Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Nose Knows

So, I have been wrestling with a decision for the past couple of weeks that represents larger issues within my life. Are you ready for the question I have been asking myself?

Should I pierce my nose or not?

Let me begin this argument by stating that I have had my nose pierced before. In fact, shortly after I got it done, I posted a picture of me and a friend that displayed the modest jewel.

When I posted this picture, a former youth pastor (MAM) posted the following comment: "if that's a nose piercing i'll kill you out of sheer jealousy. youth directors ought not cause their youth directors to stumble." By this point in our relation, MAM and I were more friend/colleagues than youth pastor/youth, but I understood her comment.

I had always been a person who valued self expression and felt wonderful about explaining my gauged ears and my tattoos. I welcomed the conversation, even from the people who disagreed with what I did to *my* body. I very vividly remember that there was a woman who attended the church at which I was a youth pastor who approached me to question my facial jewelry. I was ready to do the *smile-and-nod-and-respect-an-elder* defense of my jewelry when she declared, "I just love it! I may have to get one myself!"

It surprised me that someone who was well over the age of 70 valued my own self-expression, too! As I finished college, I was deep in the final stages of planning my wedding. My (then) fiancé had asked that I think about taking out the nose jewelry for our ceremony. I obliged, agreeing that I may not want a little bauble showing in my pictures 30 years from now. As we waited in the airport to depart on our honeymoon, I realized that I had not replaced my nose stud. Stupid me...

but the nose piercing went by the wayside. I have been working in a church since college, so I welcomed the *not having to defend yourself all the time* mindset that the lack of facial piercing afforded. As I wore my hair down most of the time, very few people even noticed my gauged ears. And I continued to "grow up."

As I continued to age, I began to have a desire to wear fun, dangling earrings. I made the decision to take out my size zero gauged ears. (See below picture... the white is solid, forming a large hole in my ear).

With my gauges gone, my nose piercing closed, and only one tattoo made known to people with whom I work and attend school, I started to feel like a large part of my personality had been stifled. I was, after all, the person who rounded up friends on my birthday and drove to the tattoo shop to get inked or pierced.

So here is where I find myself now. I am a young woman in ministry, who is working in a church where I am the youngest by at least 15 years (and even 40 year olds are hard to come by). I feel largely misunderstood by my congregation anyway. I don't explicitly state my personal political views, as I know it would cause more harm than it would good.

Even beyond my immediate context, I am preparing for some major interviews that will influence my appointment and journey toward ordination. My husband has made it clear that he thinks it is a poor decision to pierce my nose again. Though I disagree with him, I value his opinion.

As we were talking about it yesterday, my husband and I reached an impasse. He has made it clear that he believes it to be a poor judgement call on my part, and I made it clear to him that I am not asking for his permission. He gets that. He does. I want to respect his viewpoints without losing myself in this marriage. It is a unity candle thing (which we didn't do...) Do you blow out the two small candles after lighting the large one? I don't think so...

I think what this all stems from is a lack of control. I am feeling very helpless in a process of appointment, graduation, etc. and my husband would admit he feels the same way, too. It may sound a bit silly, but it is one thing that I can control. A nose piercing, although disputed, is not a polarizing topic.

So what say you? To pierce or not to pierce? THAT is the question! What would you think of a pastor with a pierced nose? Would it even make a difference?