When I began cutting hair at Haywood Street five years ago, I experienced a lot of joy in helping people look and feel better. But not everyone put a smile on my face.
“Trim my beard,” barked one of my first clients.
“You might try saying ‘Please,’” I thought. My stomach tightened. In my experience, men don’t touch other men’s faces. Nevertheless, I steeled my nerves and trimmed his beard. Then his next words completely jarred my world.
“The nose hairs.”
“What the … !?!” I couldn’t believe my ears! I had to ask, “You want me to trim your nose hairs?” With a grunt, he confirmed my suspicion. I was trapped. Then in a heartbeat, I had a plan. “Here,” I said, giving him the clippers. “You do it. I’ll hold the mirror.”
“No,” he commanded. “You do it.”
“Son-of-a …!” a voice in my head screamed. “If you want to see me grovel, you have another thing coming!” I was ready for a fight. Sure, I could trim his nose hairs, but it was a dirty job and I simply refused to do it.
I was on the verge of sending this arrogant creep packing when in my mind, I imagined Jesus washing this man’s feet. In that instant, I broke. I knew what needed to be done. Without another word, I got down on my knees and bent his nose to one side. Holding back my emotions, I trimmed his nose hairs as best as I could. When I’d finished, I got to my feet and removed the apron. I brushed his neck and thanked him for coming.
In this act of surrender, I was completely broken. I had touched the untouchable on his terms, not mine. I had bridged a chasm with a compassionate touch. This gentleman walked away looking neater but he was still the same person. But not me. I was a new man.