Red Hair and Realization

For years, I hated being a redhead. If you’re redheaded, maybe you know what I mean. We stand out in a crowd like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and grow up hearing chants of, “Hey, Carrot Top, I’d rather be dead than red on the head!”

There’s no denying this hair–bright red from the moment I was born.

 

My whole family was redheaded–all six of us. When we went out in public, people stared like we were The Addams Family.

 

One day my discontentment got the best of me as my lifelong friend Robin and I headed toward the beach.

I stared at her.

I want to look just like Robin. Tan smooth skin. No freckles.  And definitely no clown-red hair.

 

Here I am–my skin white as the glaring sand.

We stretched out on our blankets and Robin covered herself in Baby Oil.

So I did too.

No sunscreen.

No zinc oxide like Mother always made me wear.

Getting a tan can’t be that hard.

All day long I copied Robin. Flipped over when she did. Applied more Baby Oil every hour or so.

She never said her skin was on fire, so neither did I.

Even though it was.

That night I smiled through my pain. This thin cotton shirt hurt like the dickens.

At 34, I got skin cancer. (I wrote about it GUIDEPOSTS magazine .)

Probably because of all the times I’d gotten sunburned.

Trying to be someone I’m not.

Over the years, Robin and I’ve had lots of good talks. We’ve thanked God for giving us life, loves, and laughter.

And He’s changed my thinking.

When you finally come to love yourself, something amazing happens.

You stop doting on yourself.

You forget about yourself.

Then, my friends, you’re free to love others.

Love,

Julie

P.S. Here’s Robin’s incredible blog ALL THINGS HEART AND HOME.