I posted a picture to Facebook not too long ago and used it as my profile picture. It is a picture of my ugly mug (this one, to the left) and in the preview you can not see my chin. But for those who have not seen my face in a while, hope welled up in their souls for the idea that I had cut off my goatee. Alas, for those are hatin’, I have not vanquished the facial hair, it is still alive and kicking. It is long enough that it could be braided, some time it gets caught in my work, I have to comb in the morning…. and I don’t thing is going anywhere too soon…
People who know me ask me why I keep my beard (I have found that one does not question the purpose of one’s hair decision to their face, unless they are good friends or it behind their back), they often urge me to get rid of it (sad, I know). There is two reasons I have my beard. First one is that I do not like my chin/jaw, the beard covers it up and makes me look about 3-4 years older that I actually am (For anyone younger than 14, it adds 10-15 years to my age…) For the longest time I was trying to look older than I was. I was trying to look more mature. It was for vain and something to hide behind. There was no purpose, it was a fashion statement (a failed one at that).
The second reason is much more important, it is a bit more personal. It is a representation and reminder of my purposes and commitments in my life, both to myself and those around me. These are things I hold dear.
Awhile back I can into this video (SFW) by happenstance. It was a response to a question about shaving a beard for a job, if it should be done or not. The responder talks about how a beard should be sign a of purpose. It uses the example of being a father or an athlete. If it is a sign of purpose, it must not be shaved; however, if the beard is shaved, it is then done for a purpose, as a statement to the outside world. The answer to the question was no and yes, it depends on the intent of the facial hair.
As for me, I would not say my beard is a fashion statement, but a statement of purpose. (If it for fashion, I should be for shame, because the beard is the least of my fashion transgressions…) For me it an outward statement of a commitments I made to myself. It is a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish. It is a constant reminder of purpose in my life.
I started growing the beard this time in early November. I had buzzed my head and the full facial scruff I was sporting did not working with it, so I shaved and started growing my current goatee. However, in my mind, I started associating it with a purpose in life. I was growing facial hair with a purpose. It was no longer just a beard that obscured part of my face, but it was now a outward sign of an inward commitment (sounds like baptism, doesn’t it?)
For me now, it represents my passion and striving for my lifting/fitness goals. For me lifting weights helped me get through so bouts of depression, therefore, lifting is very special to me. The beard reminds me push myself when I am in the gym, that I can push my body beyond my constraints of my mind. Currently, I am looking to push my 3 rep maxs for deadlift and squat to 450lb and my bench 350lb, all this very soon. Also to be comfortable with my body image, both in how I see myself and how I project myself, but willing to push it to be better and greater.
However, most importantly, it is a reminder of my commitment to the Word of God, to prayer, and God’s goodness. The Jewish people had different adornments on the that reminded them to pray for different things, Catholics have Rosary, and I have my beard. Every time I stroke it/play with it, I am reminded to pray, to meditate on God’s Word, and to reflect on the blessing I have in my life. When I am nervous or anxious, I stroke my beard and I am reminded to pray and to come before God in prayer, surrendering the situation to him.
With all this say, different seasons call for changes. Starting school in the fall. Moving to a town (LA) that I told myself that I would never live in (never say never). Goals change, but purpose in this life does not. The purpose of living to serve God and the desire to know Him stays the same. I do not write this to dissway persons from growing facial hair. I do write this as justification for those who grow and maintain beards as a sign of purpose and commitment to a goal or endeavor in their lives.