Love, At the Barbershop

Yesterday I went to the barbershop to get a haircut, mostly because I was starting to look like a wild man, but also because I like going to this place that reminds me that the world can be simple. Instead of being just reminded of a simpler time, I left upset and disappointed. It wasn’t until this morning that I was able to resolve my disappointment, anger and disgust.

My favorite thing about visiting the barbershop is that it reminds me of a simpler time. Today people like you and I push ourselves to mass consumption, we’re rushed, exhausted, and always spending our time and money in places that don’t bring us enjoyment. I certainly don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a trip to Walmart, or The Mall, or Other large place of Big Promises and Low Expectations. More often than not, I don’t leave one of these big box stores a better person. I’d even venture to say that I leave a lesser person – more disappointed in people, and companies, and even myself. But harken back to a time before these Big Box Stores when small shops did the jobs of these places, and I think you find places that give more than they take. In Ashland there’s an abundance of these small businesses that will enrich your life. As a child, I recall going to White’s Meat Market, which is still open but I haven’t been there in many years. I still shop at the same store my grandparents did, not because there are falling prices, but because it literally takes me back to a simpler time every time I step through those doors.

As a child, I recall getting the world’s best hot dogs from the deli, among many other treats. There, they may even offer to take your groceries to your car for you, and will even walk the isles to help you find something. I go there not only because it’s convenient, but because they offer some little things that I like in their deli, and carry the brands that I’ve remained loyal to for years. Just yesterday I went to Jolly Pirate Donuts and picked up a baker’s dozen. And those are just 3 little places that I love in Ashland, but there are many more. Before Walmart people mostly shopped at small businesses that left them more fulfilled, better people.

My second favorite thing about a barber shop is that it’s a place to meet people in the community and talk about current events. I never know who I might see and get to talk to, and the topics can be just about anything. Sometimes it’s just talk about the Kentucky Wildcats, or rumors about expansion of local business or new business, but sometimes it’s politics. Even as we try to avoid it, and most people do, it comes up – we can’t help it, and it’s mostly okay. I can hear other people talk about something I don’t agree with without getting enraged, which yesterday I thought was a bad trait.

Among the topics yesterday were how badly the Wildcats were playing, this much we all agreed. But there was a lot of talk about fear. Fears about the COVID vaccine, how the recent vote to allow alcohol sales in throughout Boyd County would cause mass alcoholism and child abuse, and fear that President Biden would be ushering in a new world order. Some men in the shop had powerful opinions about the former and present president, neither of which I agreed with. I left there thinking that I should not go back to that barbershop, because I couldn’t believe the man I knew could believe in such crazy, conspiratorial ideals. To me, the thoughts he expressed were dangerous to our community and nation, and these opinions were not based in fact, but instead in rumor, rhetoric and hearsay. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

The words they spoke left me disappointed that I didn’t say something to defend the view of my world. But this morning, that all changed, as God began to speak to me about Love. During Jesus’ time, he did not spend time focusing on the politics of the day, instead he almost always talked and displayed love. A quick Google search says there are at least 157 mentions of the word “love” in The New Testament, and little about politics. However, Jesus’ story was a very political story. Jesus was crucified and died because he claimed to be King of the Jews – which was treasonous, according to the Roman Empire. Though he did mention politics occasionally, especially those in The Church and those of Rome, he almost always turned to thoughts and acts of love. I recalled 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which states:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

There is plenty in this world that I disagree with, and sometimes I’ll make my thoughts known. The older I get the more I choose not to express myself, because I’ve been wrong enough to know better. I’ve grown to believe that this non-action is a personal weakness. Sometimes it makes me feel like a coward. Today, I’m reminded that my weakness is not weakness, and that I am not a coward. Instead, I’m showing love to others in the same way Jesus did.

If I chose to never go back to that barbershop again I would not be showing patience, I would be easily angered, I would be keeping a record of wrongs. When my oldest son, now 16, was a toddler, this barber gave him his first haircut. I’ve trusted him with the people in my life who I hold most dear. While he’s not my dear friend, he’s an old friend, and I want to show him the love of Jesus.

These thoughts give this old sinner hope this morning. Because if I can show the love of Jesus, the patience of Jesus, then so can you. These small acts of love will make the world a better place. Even in the midst of a pandemic, political upheaval and turmoil, and a time when social norms are changing. We do not have to agree with one another to treat each other with the love of Jesus.

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