A Theology of Hair-curlers (Call to Creativity)

Curly hair
“So – I’ve been thinking about a theology of hair curlers recently – how are you?”

It had been a while since I last had a friend round, and I had a whole lot of pent-up extrovert energy. I babbled like my young son: a mixture of dying to tell someone what I’d been thinking and trying-to-remember-the-proper-manners. We hovered in the kitchen, in that ‘waiting for the kettle to boil’ no-man’s-land of social convention.


“Oh!” Cat replied. “Right…”

I took that as an invitation to continue, and spurted it all out.



Something peculiar has been happening to me recently. People who have known me for a long time can testify that I am not really a ‘girly-girl.’


This is my confession: I have never spent longer than 10 minutes doing make-up. I don’t style my hair, I just wash it and let it dry in its own sweet time. It curls underneath and is straight at the top, which means that some days it works, and some days it really doesn’t. I choose my clothes according to how warm it is outside and whatever happens to be clean and in my drawer. I come upon fashions when everyone else has stopped wearing them. The concept of accessorising terrifies me.


But Abby Leigh surprised me by writing of fashion, and Christian bloggers Alia Joy and Joy Bennett wrote how putting care and thought into what they wore transformed their mental attitude and sense of worth. Before then, I wouldn’t have thought fashion and God would really go together.

Until, these last few months, (pre-relapse), inspired by the TV program Nashville, I have started to curl my hair – with proper curlers, and everything. I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoy it, and feel good about looking good – and so, naturally, I’ve been feeling guilty about the time and energy it takes to do it. Surely God wouldn’t want me to be spending my time with this? Doesn’t God disapprove of such fripperies?


And then I consider again: is this really how I should be spending my energy, when I have so little? Is it not hideously self-indulgent to invest time and money on primping?


Which leads me onto writing. (Stay with me on this).


I think of my blogging, my writing, as a luxurious self-indulgence. It was only recently, doing the one-day Story 101 course with Elora and Preston and reading Ed Cyzewski‘s short book that I considered for the first time that my writing could be a calling, a ministry, a way of worshipping God and serving Him. Despite the fact that I write about faith issues and spirituality, this was something of a revelation. (I think I unconsciously subscribe to the philosophy that if I like doing something it must be a sin or an idol in some way.)


But what if the things that we enjoy are part of our calling? After all, we have the psalms in the Bible – that’s poetry, music. God appointed craftsmen to make the tabernacle beautiful and colourful – He could have just set it up to be a 1960s-style utilitarian shack. Drama enables us to understand ourselves and the world better; art forces us to think and consider the eternal; cooking enables us to enjoy God’s gifts and give pleasure to others; Miriam danced when she prophesied; David played the harp to calm Saul’s depression.


What if God created us to play as well as work? Do you think it’s possible to have a theology of curling one’s hair?


“What do you think?” I asked her, and I found myself unexpectedly nervous.


“Um, you sound like you’re talking in blog,” she said, which was true. I hadn’t so much as paused for breath. She got a cup of coffee, settled down on the sofa, took a breath, and considered all that I said. “I guess it can be a problem if you’re spending all your time on your appearance and your identity is in that. It could become an idol.”


She was right, of course, that that was a danger, and a very real problem for many; but the idea of me being obsessed with how I looked is so far removed from my personality that I involuntarily snorted.


“Yeah – I don’t think that would be an issue for me. What if it’s not an idol? What do you think – is there a way you can justify it? Make-up and stuff? Fashion? Poetry and playing with words?”


She paused, and thought. “If it’s a way of bringing attention to God’s creation, adorning God’s creation, I think that gives glory to God.”


I breathed a sigh of relief. I had not known how much it mattered: realising that I wanted permission, somehow. I sat for a moment and hugged that thought to my chest: the possibility that as well as working and serving, God permits us to – no, enjoys seeing us – play, create.




We live in a fallen world, but our theology does not start at the Fall, it starts at creation. God is not anti-pleasure. We were built to enjoy God’s good gifts. We were made in the image of God, and part of that image is that we too are creative beings; we take enjoyment in creating beauty. God blessed us to work in the garden, to play, to procreate.


In every sphere of life there is that fault-line of creation and fall: God’s good things that have been spoilt. There is paradox, both-ands. I want to tread that line with care, with humility.

We can pause awhile while we chop onions and throw red and green peppers into the pan, and reflect on the green and red of the fruit-filled trees in that first garden. We can remember the fact that God’s Spirit is always hovering over the deep, and He continues to speak life into places of darkness, of nothingness. It can be a corner of the day where we hold in our hands that thing we have done, and reflect on the possibility of God’s joy in designing us. It can be that time when we remember the sheer pleasure of making something out of nothing, beauty from dust, colour from grey.

Creativity can become a sacred space, if we invite God into it. This is what my hair curlers are teaching me.

Advance notice: Guest post series on creativity – all July! I want to think more about creativity, and I’ve invited poets, artists, musicians, and academics to help us do so. It’s gonna be good!!
Over to you:

  • How do you express your creativity?
  • In what ways can your ‘play time’ become a sacred space?

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50 Responses to A Theology of Hair-curlers (Call to Creativity)

  1. Mia 12th June, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Dear beautiful Tanya
    I just love your curls!!! If you look at the story of Esther we see that she had to take many months to make her pretty for the king!! Everything we do, should be for His glory, so that includes looking after yourself, dear friend. He created our bodies and is not ashamed of the work of His hands. So we should take proper care of our appearance. This should not be what we rely on to be beautiful though, we should rely on our Lord to give us a still, quiet spirit! That is true beauty in His eyes.
    Much love XX

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Hey Mia – I love your biblical-saturated thoughts! Xx

  2. Caleigh 12th June, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    can I just say that I had this huge smile on my face as I read your theology of hair-curlers?! I have fought for a long time with the idea that if something was enjoyable, fun, or I felt good about doing, then it was wrong, sinful, and I was making an idol over something. My dad greatly instilled this lie in me through making me miserable anytime I was happy about something.

    Just in the past two years, since getting married really, I have been slowly coming to terms with the fact that I actually feel at peace, relaxed, comfortable, and happy when I am doing things that make me feel happy and I enjoy to do. Like, I just got bangs for the first time in my life, and with naturally curly hair, it’s a daily task to make sure my bangs look good. But I ENJOY taking care of my hair. I love the way it looks, and when I like the way my hair looks, as trivial as it seems, I feel better about myself. I am a HUGE advocate for taking care of ourselves and enjoying it! God is giving us good things to enjoy, so why not enjoy them!! We don’t live under shame, all of our sin, past present and future, has been taken care of, so why not be happy and rejoice?!

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Hey, kindred spirit-girl – I’m so glad you’re taking better care of yourself now and giving yourself permission to enjoy those good gifts God has given us. I love your bangs!

  3. Shona 12th June, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Can we encourage you to keep on writing and keep on curling! I came across your blog a while ago, and I find your writing so helpful. My daughter had ME so we have some identification with things you write. Today she read the blog with me ( she’s 11) and she said to tell you that she liked it. She loved the thought that our creativity is blessed by God. Have you read John Ortberg ” The Me I want to be”? It deals with this whole idea of becoming you-ier – I think you’d like it.

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Oh, Shona, this made me all emotional! I LOVE that your daughter loved the blog – that’s a huge compliment! That’s totally made my day. Thank you for the book recommendation, too – I’ll look out for it!

  4. Joy Lenton 12th June, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I love the way you thread and blend practical with the profound in this fine piece of writing. So much of theological teaching leaves us suspecting that if we enjoy something then it’s selfish, could easily become an idol, and is not likely to be a calling. Doesn’t God specialise in sending reluctant souls to minister in hot climates when they hate the weather, insect life etc? Actually, no. He knows our hearts and gifting. Our part is to recognise it too.
    I firmly believe our calling and ministry are intrinsically linked with what we are gifted at and what gives us our deepest sense of joy and fulfilment. Even if we may fail to appreciate it at first. I’m with Mark here. You definitely have a calling to write and minister to others with your gift of expression, knowledge and experiences. Oh, and your hair’s amazing! You look great, Tanya. Your warm personality really shines through. With love and blessings of strength and healing to you 🙂 xxx

    • Mark Allman 12th June, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      You are right about how she “threads and blends”. I agree with you about calling and ministry being linked with what we are gifted with and that which we enjoy.

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      ‘Thread and blend practical with the profound’ – I should have that on my CV, thank you!

      Thanks so much for your affirmation of my calling and gifts. I especially appreciate your lovely words on here, cos I know you’ve had to take it easy lately on the blogosphere. Hope you can continue to exercise positive self-care in that way!

  5. Emmie 12th June, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    I absolutely believe that God can be glorified through creating beauty and healthy self- love and expression. I really love your space and have enjoyed reading your stories. And your hair is so lovely. Blessings to you.

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, Emmie! (And is it weird that I was really chuffed by your hair compliment?!) thanks!

  6. Mark Allman 12th June, 2013 at 2:12 pm #


    From the first post I read of yours I knew well that your writing was extraordinary; that it was one of your calling’s, was a ministry, was obvious worship both in the good times and bad; and you are serving God. You bless many sharing your life me included. Thank you for doing so. The things you are passionate about: teaching the Bible, answering those tricky questions of faith, and training others; you are doing right here every time you write. Your ministry is strong. You may not be getting paid for it now; and you might not have a fancy title but it is as valuable as if you were and did.

    Who created beauty? Who knows best of all it’s depth. It is all inclusive; the curls; the mind, the heart, the actions, your words and the passion. They build one upon the other.

    Great Picture! One of the best.

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Mark – you are such an encourager! I am going to treasure these words up for a rainy day. Thank you.

  7. Shelly Miller 12th June, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Oh I think about this often actually. My best friend often talks about the way I create beauty in food and in my garden and through words and the way that ministers to her. And well, she IS my best friend but actually she helps me see those things as more than chores or mundane, random or rote activities. And when someone brings up a meal we had together, one I created as being a fond memory, I recognize that as a form of worship. Using our God given gifts to bless the Body of Christ. I love the curler analogy Tanya, good stuff here.

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks, Shelly! My husband is an amazing cook, too, and he creates food that looks and tastes beautiful. Every meal feels like a gift to me, so I reckon your best friend is right. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Alice 12th June, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Ah cool! I love your serieses!
    I have a confession that I went and got my colours done at the weekend. I spent the entire journey praying about whether it was the most indulgent thing in the world and whether I was deeply ungodly. And I felt like a bit of an idiot – shouldn’t I know what suits me by now?

    I won’t tell you every thought I had because (you know me) I’m still processing them! But I feel as though beginning to connect properly to who I am physically (as well as who I am in terms of thoughts and character and feelings) is part of honouring God and celebrating him with my entire self.

    So keep on curling! xx

    • Mark Allman 12th June, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      Keep on coloring!

    • Tanya 14th June, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      I am SO excited by this. Love the thought of connecting to yourself physically as a means of exploring your identity and honouring the physical person that God made you to be. I am SO glad you got your colours done.

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