Based on my experience, when you make a sudden change, such as cutting your hair really short, you are bound to receive different reactions from people around you. Allow me to categorize these reactions into three: affirmation, rejection and questions.
With affirmation, people would praise your new look, pointing out how courageous you are for trying something new. These people probably have cut their hair short before or had planned to but were afraid of the sudden change. Because of people like them, the early stage of your post-hair cut days feels glorious.
Sadly, not everyone would react this way, most especially people who have been accustomed to your old look. Rejectioncomes in many ways: the “nice hair!” comment plus forced smiles, implicit disapproval such as “You look better with long hair!” or hard-hitting remarks such as “You look different. You’re not you anymore.” Because of people like them, you would find yourself looking at pictures of your long hair, regretting your decision and wishing that you could turn back time or that your hair will grow faster.
Then, there will be questions. To understand human behavior and to rationalize actions, some people would be curious and would try to guess and confirm their assumptions. They’d ask if you are heartbroken, sick, or on a phase and the list goes on. They would either wait for your answers or your haircut story, be satisfied with their own explanations or not believe you at all. Sometimes, your story could be the push they have been waiting for to cut their hair. Because of people like them, you would always be on defense and even avoid their line of sight. Sometimes, you would come up with a script so you could explain properly.
Just like cutting your hair really short, when you cut away your sinful nature, receive Jesus Christ in your life and walk with Him, you are also bound to be affirmed, rejected or questioned. You will be welcomed by your brothers and sisters in faith, with the angels rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:7). People will encourage you in your walk and guide you. And of course, our Father in Heaven is most pleased to welcome you in His arms and walk with you. Because of them, the early stage of your Christian walk feels glorious.
But because of this sudden change, people who are not used to hear you say “God bless!” or speak about Jesus, would find themselves awkward, uncomfortable or detached from you. You would find yourself struggling because of people who prefer your old self and would entice you to sin. They would doubt your salvation, listing the sins you have done and reasons why you are unworthy to receive forgiveness. And of course, the enemy is not pleased and would target your weaknesses.
Then, there will be questions. They would ask, “Why are you not drinking with us anymore? Why are you so kind to me now? Are you dying? Why are you not available every Sunday? Why do you look so happy even if you have so many problems? What is new with you?” and the list goes on. As with your haircut story, they would either wait for your answers or your transformation story, be satisfied with their own explanations or not believe you at all. And sometimes, your answer or story could be the message they need, what they have been waiting for, and what would lead them to know and receive Jesus in their lives.
How then should you respond to these reactions? Should you feel hurt? Try to defend yourself? Or avoid interaction as much as possible? One thing I know for sure, regardless of what people think or say and whatever you feel about the situation, God is (still) God and He will use whatever situation you are in for His glory. You only need to trust and worship Him.
A sudden change in your life, as simple as a short haircut, can become an experience of Grace. God can use it as an opportunity for you to reach out and connect with people around you, whether they are trying to affirm, reject or question you. As Christians, your life changed by Christ is the greatest opportunity you have to reach and connect people to God. You can rejoice, celebrate and enjoy the presence of God with one another (Acts 2: 42-47; Hebrews 10: 24-25). Stand firm in the midst of persecution and rejection and be a witness to others (Luke 21: 12-13). And lastly, answer their questions with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3: 15), sharing with them how God has changed your life so that they could also experience and share a changed life in Christ (1 John 1: 2-3).