Through the Ginger Window: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is my doppelganger || Some thoughts on beauty

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is my Doppelganger

{I originally wrote this almost two years ago in October of 2013 and then never posted it because…well…I don’t know why I never posted it. Looking through old drafts that’d been left to languish here in WordPress, the title jumped out at me because “doppelganger” is such a ridiculous word. I liked it. The me of 2013 must have thought it needed more editing or expanding, but 2015 me decided to leave it as it is.} 

A kid told me this week that he could tell my grandpa must have been a farmer because I had a little space in the corner of my mouth where my wheat stalk was supposed to go.

I didn’t exactly know how to take that, so I laughed until I cried.

Once a guy told me I looked like Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  I didn’t know how to take that, either.   It’s clearly every girl’s dream to be told she looks like a dude.  My favorite part is that it was literally the first thing he said to me.  Me: Hi, nice to meet you!  Him: You look like Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  Me:  Oh…um, OK then.

NASCAR auto racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks wi...
NASCAR auto racer Dale Earnhardt Jr., my doppelganger. Ooh, or doppelginger? Can that be a thing, please?  Photo credit: Wikipedia

A girl once asked me what “all those holes” were on my face.  Those are my pores, thanks for noticing.  She also asked why my face was so shiny, like I had “grease all over it.”  Well, sister, let’s refer back to the pores.  Also, watch it. You’re only 8, but your day will come.

A man this week came into our office, leaned over the counter, and told me how ages and ages ago, when he was young and highly attractive, his first girlfriend had beautiful red hair just like mine and how ever since he’s always…appreciated…red hair.  Combine that with an eyebrow raise, a head tilt, and second-hand knowledge of an inappropriate story he’d previously related to another staff member and you come away feeling super creeped out.

Why do I even leave the house? I’m a hay-chewing grease-ball who looks like a dude and has hair that makes old men think creepy thoughts about me.

I leave the house because I don’t actually care.

I mean, I care about being presentable. I try to look nice and appropriate for whatever setting I’m in.  I like makeup.  I like when my clothes fit well. What I’m not worried about is what you’re thinking  when you look at me (unless you’re thinking about telling me my skirt is tucked up in back, then I care a great deal).

Is my self-esteem bullet-proof? Absolutely not.  It’s exactly the opposite.  Left to my own devices, my mind and heart can wander to some dark, self-hating places.  In fact, I have a top three.  There are three things that ever since I was really young have been on a replay in my mind as attributes that make me less than other people.  It sounds so crazy to type it out, but I think that’s honestly how we feel sometimes.   If we didn’t feel like life would be a million times better if we could just change that one little thing about ourselves, the beauty industry wouldn’t be the booming business we all know it is.

Anyway, it’s Honesty Hour here at Through the Ginger Window.  These are my three: my hair, my skin, my weight.

As a kid, my hair was crazy. CRAZY.  Google Dilbert. Check out his female office-mate.  Make her hair much more red and you’ve got me in elementary school.  I matured sooner than most other kids and got that fun skin that comes along with adolescence.  Never in my life have I been accused of being small.  Currently 5’8″, I’ve maybe grown an inch since fifth grade. I’ve never known a pant-size with only one digit.

Dilbert. My comic strip doppelganger sits just to his left.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I weren’t honestly afraid of becoming an internet meme, I’d post  a picture of me in 4th grade.  It’s probably a sign that I haven’t fully overcome all my insecurities that I’m pretty sure I couldn’t handle my face with some random “Ermahgerd!” stamped all over it floating through the internets.

Over the years I’ve lost and gained and lost weight, tamed my hair, and aged out of the terrible skin phase.  For awhile, I felt great. My “problems” were fixed.  People would tell me how great I looked. I was confident.  I’d conquered my top three.

Slowly, subtly, and so, so sneakily, my thoughts started to drift away from my top three and pick apart pieces of me I had never really thought about before.  My thoughts had grown so used to traveling down a negative path that even when I’d removed their vehicle, they’d just jumped onto something else.  Being self-critical feels so natural. You feel like you’re just thinking things that are true.  My hair IS red and crazy. I DO have oily skin. I’ve worn some big jeans.  It’s truth.

Except that it isn’t.  It might be a fact that my pores produce more oil than the girl sitting next to me, but it isn’t truth that there’s value attached to that. There isn’t value attached to my jeans and there isn’t value attached to whether or not I look like a NASCAR driver or comic strip character.

Years ago, after I’d lost some weight and tamed the mane and settled into a skincare routine, I sat on my couch and felt pretty good about myself.  Until I thought about my nose.  I’d never thought about my nose before, but, man, if it were only smaller.  I’d be so pretty if I had a smaller nose.

Never have I heard God’s audible voice, but there are a few times when I’ve felt Him bust into my thought life.  This is one of those times.

“Rude.”  That’s what I heard Him say.  “You’re being so rude.”

When you think about God speaking to you, wouldn’t you rather He say something else? Something like, “I really love you.”  Or maybe He’d quote one of those Christian T-shirt sayings about you being a princess because you’re a daughter of the king?  When I’m starting to feel like I’m looking like a used boot, what I want is for someone to say I’m the shining north star of beauty and all other stars fade when compared to me.  Is that too much to ask?

Um, yes, it surely is. And it surely isn’t what He said.  He said I was rude.  By wishing I had anything other than what He’d seen fit to give me I was being insulting, hurtful, and incredibly prideful.  He seemed to be saying, “I let you go ahead and ‘fix’ the things you thought needed fixing, but that’s enough. Knock it off.”

This is how I know God is real.  A god I made up would never talk to me like that. A god I made up with go along with that “north star of beauty” thing that I also made up.

He let me do the work of changing some changeable aspects of my appearance, but was swift to point out to me exactly how habitually wrong my thought-life had been.  It’s one thing to think that you just happen to have a big nose, darn that genetic lottery, and entirely another to think God, who made the world and declared that it was good, somehow messed up your face.

The bottom line is, I just get to rest in the truth that God did not mess up my face. He didn’t give me faulty hair follicles. He put together the exact physical person He wanted me to be.  Can I make some adjustments to that? Cut my hair? Put on mascara? Work out? Oh, for sure.   I’m responsible for taking care of what He’s given me. And I think I’m responsible for enjoying and celebrating what He’s given me.

I’m beautiful, not because of how closely I match up with something I saw on Pinterest or because ginger hair is the new blonde (it isn’t), but because I am God’s handiwork and to think anything else is incredibly rude of me. We don’t earn beauty. We don’t lose our beauty over time. We just get to have it. It’s ours, and anything that cuts through that security is a lie.

{2015 me, back again…I eventually got over that fear of my 4th grade self becoming a meme and posted this photo on facebook: Through the Ginger Window: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is My Doppelganger || Some thoughts on beauty

You’re welcome.  I’m trusting you, internet.  Also, the realizations in this post came before and were referenced in this post: Better Than Being Okfrom March of 2014. I have so many more thoughts on all this, so stay tuned. Maybe it’ll come up again in another two years. Ha!}

A Place at the Table: Thoughts on Lent || Through the Ginger Window

A Place at the Table || Thoughts on Lent Thus Far

I’m observing Lent this year after never having done so for my entire Jesus-loving life. I’ve been going through the #SheReadsTruth Lent study having previously fallen in love with their Advent study (another Christian tradition in which I’d never really participated).

These first days are centered around Returning. On day one, I thought, “This is perfect. I’ve been out of the Word for all of January and February thus far. Here’s the perfect solution.” And it has been. Each day I wake up and roll over right into the Bible. It’s been wonderful, but I’ve also found myself rather confused and confounded by some things I thought I “got” pretty well.

A Place at the Table: Thoughts on Lent || Through the Ginger Window

I draw a deep sense of security from knowing who I am in the Lord, from knowing who He is, what He’s done for me, and how deeply He loves me and this world. This week, though, I’ve been led to see there’s still so much I don’t know and so many things I’m looking at through grimy lenses.

Day one I was struck with Romans 3:22-24. That God’s rightousness is revealed to all who believe “since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are justified freely by His grace. I was humbled by Job 42:3 & 5, about speaking on things that were too wonderful for me to know and really seeing with my eyes instead of just working off “rumors” or what everyone else has to say about God.

A Place at the Table: Thoughts on Lent || Through the Ginger Window

Day 2 looked at passages from Joel and Jeremiah and returning to the Lord with all your heart. One sentence that stuck with me from the devotional section #SheReadsTruth provides with each day is this: “When you doubt your whole, achy self is welcome in the presence of God, look to the cross.” I tend to doubt my whole, achy self is welcome anywhere (not church, not friendships, not Target — hide your crazy and act like a lady, right?), so them’s was good words.

Day 3 looked at Isaiah and 2 Corinthians, how the Lord “is about to do something new,” and “has made a way for us in the wilderness.” That He is “reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” and that we might “become the righteousness of God in Him.”  My poor little brain and heart couldn’t take that in. I understand the idea of grace allowing gross little me to enter God’s presence, but actually becoming His righteousness seemed ridiculous. Slow your roll, Jesus.

Day 4 had us in 1 John (which is kinda one of my favorites in the first place) and verses 1:5-10, where my heart clung to “God is light, there is absolutely no darkness in Him.” I walked through the day with the framework that no matter what chaos or crazy popped up, God is light. God is good.

Sundays are meant to be devoted to scripture memorization, so Day 5 was spent dwelling on Joel 2:13.A Place at the Table: Thoughts on Lent || Through the Ginger Window

And this is the day my heart had that, “Aha!” moment. Those moments always feel to me exactly like that scene from Hook where the lost boy is squishing Robin Williams’ face all around until he finally sees the boy he used to love and exclaims, “There you are, Peter!” My heart calls, “Oh, there you are Jesus!”

After dwelling on this verse for a bit, rewriting it, praying through the words, I had the question: Have I returned? I’ve been meeting with You every morning, God, but is that returning? How do I know?

Reading over the verse again and thinking about God’s steadfastness, grace, and mercy, I had the thought, “God, I am fully welcome at Your table.” And then He said, “Yep, but you’re not choosing to sit there.”

And then I saw a Thanksgiving table, probably a lot like large family gatherings you’ve been to, where all the adults sit at the long table with the big chairs while the kids sit at a smaller table, still in the house and maybe still in the room, near the big table but not a part of it.

“That’s where you’re sitting,” I feel like He said to me, “There, with the kids.”  And He’s not wrong, I realized. The kids’ table is fun. You’re loved, you’re in the house, you’re eating the meal. You’re free to put your elbows on the table, spill your milk, get up and dash around the house real quick when you think no one’s looking. You can see Jesus at the big table, sitting at the head, but you feel like He can’t really hear what you’re saying. The kids’ table is for laughing milk out your nose and making fart jokes. The big table is for polite conversation and please pass the potatoes.

The kids’ table is where I’m free to enjoy all the benefits of the big family meal, but not really be responsible for anything. I didn’t have to bring a dish. However, He said, “the big table is where my business gets done.”

Here’s what I know about big, messy, loud, real family, though. You get to have it all. My actual family isn’t big enough that we usually have a kids’ table and on the rare occasions we have more folks than will fit in one place, we don’t separate “kids” and “adults,” we just all spread around. Everyone is at the same table sharing food, laughing milk out their noses, and getting through the hard stuff of life.

And you know every gathering has that one person you HAVE to sit by at dinner. In my family it’s usually my dad, he brings the fun. Jesus said, “That’s me. I want you to sit right at my elbow so I can tell you how I see all the things going on around us.”

I’m afraid of the big table because that’s where you’re called upon to contribute to the group. You should have at least brought a salad. You’re not a passive participant, you are a part of the conversation. But that’s where His business gets done. I was pretty sure the only folks at that big table were, like, Mother Theresa, CS Lewis, and the current Pope. Only the big hitters. Everyone else can run around the house, but please try not to break anything.

This morning He said no, not just them, but also you. And everyone. This is where you NEED to be. And you’re still allowed to spill your milk. And I kind of also like fart jokes.

(That last sentence is not theologically sound, I’m sure of it. Just go with the metaphor, people.)