caroline holzberger

Keepin' it real about motherhood, Jesus, life, and everything in between.

From the Knee Down

We are closing up the usually non-existent season of fall in Texas. It’s warm. It’s cool. It’s freakishly hot. Then, it’s freezing. Welcome to Texas weather.

Growing up in God’s country this area, you get used to the constant weather change. We know it is not safe to do the Great Closet Change until at least December 1st. You know this game don’t you? You spend two weeks the whole day replacing all of the warm weather clothes in each closet in the house. You bag them up for the next kid in line, or donate them, or want to burn them sell them, only to exchange them for cold weather clothing. Switching out short sleeved for long sleeved and bathing suits for velour tracks suits. Don’t lie, you know you own one.

One of the worst problems during this time frame, for yours truly, is the great hair dilemma. To shave or not to shave; that is the question. To all my male readers, you may want to skip down a paragraph or four I apologize that this particular issue doesn’t pertain to you. Wait, I take that back, I don’t feel bad for you. You are the lucky ones who only have to shave about 10% of the surface area of your skin on a regular basis. And, really, you don’t even have to. You can grow a beard, or a go-tee, or a mustache or that annoying little soul-patch thingy. You have like four options! Or, even if you are typically clean-shaven, you can still let it grow a little and it’s seen as a sexy and scruffy look. If a woman doesn’t shave, trust me, she’s scruffy, but she ain’t sexy. And don’t get me started on your benefits of standing to pee, no monthly enemy visiting, or worst of all, the complete ease of childbirth watching. You are never touching me again!!?!  Stick around though, you will still get something from the Jesus part. 🙂

Often during this long process of weather change, a girl just doesn’t know what do. You wake up. Take a shower. And then you have a choice to make. If you are like me and hate with every fiber of your being to shave, it often isn’t a tough choice. Nah. I’m not going anywhere special today, anyway. Scruffy, it is. And there was much rejoicing! Yaaaay.

Confession time. Ok boys, you for real might want to skip ahead! You’ve been warned.

As some of you may know, I went by the nickname, Carrie, during my growing up years. It turns out that I actually have a long history of being “anti-shaving” going back to those Carrie days. It just so happened that these most crucial months of anti-shaving also coincided with my favorite sport; soccer. For those of you who don’t know, female soccer players i.e. the “cool kids” are generally not known for their femininity. I am no different. I was a pretty big tom-boy for the majority of my life. I still prefer jeans, a T-shirt, and flip flops to a dress any day of the week. But, I have embraced my girl-ness – I can rock a little black dress, don’t you worry.

Anyway, back in the day, when winter months were approaching, I slowly began to feel quite a bit of liberation. The burden of shaving every single day was gone, and that big smooth-skinned weight was happily thrown off for a few months.

That’s right, I confess that I would often go months without shaving. Somebody just stopped reading.

After all, what was the stinkin’ point? Nobody ever saw my legs, ever! How would they know?

Well, I guess there was game day.

On game day, there was no way to hide it. Not that I tried. Fortunately, in soccer, your legs are mostty covered up. The tall socks that cover the shin guards go clear up to your knee cap. Then, the baggy shorts hang down to about two inches above your knee. So, there you have it; two inches.

Ain’t no way I am shaving my entire leg every single day just for the once weekly chance that someone might see those two inches. Um, no. Aboslutely not. Not me.

Eventually someone in the locker room noticed. from four feet away. They couldn’t believe it. I had man legs. But, I’d take that over their dry, winter-burned shaven legs, any day. It didn’t take long for someone to put two and two together that my legs were hairy and my name was Carrie. Perfect. I was now Hairy Carrie. Hilarious.

It didn’t end in soccer season, either. I mean, the hairy legs ended, but not the teasing nicknames. Volleyball season followed and yes, I shaved diligently. Especially for home games when we had to wear the “buns”, which were nothing more than glorified underwear. That’s right; a jersey, thick-ish material underwear, knee pads and shoes. Lovely. I assure you I shaved then. But of course, most of them knew my winter habits, and this was back in the late 1990’s when Forrest Gump was popular. So, despite my smoothly shaven season, my past followed me, and at the volleyball banquet I was awarded the “Forrest Bump” plaque. Nice.

Fast forward a decade and a half and here I am. Same me, new life. Now, of course, I have a husband I love, who did choose to marry a girl, not a boy. The first eight few years, he suffered through the occasional relapse of my soccer days, but overall, his life was fine and his wife’s legs were clean shaven. Pretty much. Hey, he picked me, people.

So, what in the heck is your point? you are most definitely probably thinking.

It’s simple, friend. Welcome back, male readers!

It hit me a few weeks ago when I was in the midst of the great hair dilemma. for the third day in a row.

I could wear jeans today…again. But, it is kinda hot.

Ugh, I don’t want to shave my whole leg!

(Ding!) Oh, I got it! I’ll wear capris and only shave from the knee down. Perfect.

As I sat there squirting the shave gel onto only the lower half of my legs, I was a bit proud of my genius compromise. After all, capris could hide the yuck, while the rest of the world only saw smoothness.

BAM! No, I didn’t fall in the shower. That was God’s loving 2×4 to my head.

Why is it that I feel I have to show my best all the time (i.e. “smooth legs) to the outside world, but leave the worst (i.e. hairy legs) in hiding? (Hey, I can’t help where God talks to me, people!)

Really though, don’t we do that in life, friend?

We “show” our best to everyone else, but we know the big hairy truth is just above the knee line, and each day we hide it, the funkier it gets!

We always smile.

We never act sad.

Our marriage is perfect.

Our kids are angels.

Bills get paid early.

And, we all love our jobs!

Praise God, and Amen!

Sounds great!

And utterly fake.

Why do we feel we can’t be real with everyone? Trust me, if people can still be my friend after reading this post, you will, won’t you!? then they can handle just about anything you throw at them.

Is that it? Do we feel that people can’t handle it? I get that. Before this medical roller coaster, I was generally a happy, energetic, outgoing person. And, I remember having a “bad day” sometimes and it completely freaking people out.

“Whooooaa. What’s wrong? You’re sad?! Whoa. But, you’ll be Ok in a little while, right?”

Gee, no pressure. Of course, the last few years have stripped me of any pretense. It’s amazing what true trials can bring out of a person. This has brought authenticity out of me, whether you want it or not. Hence, the ability to write about my hairy legs. I do want you to still be my friend, but I will just have to be Ok if you aren’t.

Or maybe we are ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid to admit that things really do get hairy sometimes?

What will they think?

Who will they tell?

I bet it is a lot little of both. But, really, friend, who do we think we are fooling?

I’ll tell you One person we aren’t fooling. His Name is Jesus.

1 John 1:8 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

And, friend, this is much more than simply deceiving ourselves. Just two verses later, 1 John 1:10 says “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

Ouch. I don’t know about you, but I do not want anything I do or say to make Jesus out to be a liar. No way. No how. Not me.

The Bible says He has numbered the hairs on our head, (Matt. 10:30) but I am pretty sure He is aware of the ugly hair on our legs, too. He knows our sinful thoughts. He knows our judgmental assumptions. He hears our every envious thought as if we were saying out loud to His face. He knows the hairy truth, and get this, He loves us anyway.

Ephesians 3:17-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”

He loves you. He loves me. But, friend, He doesn’t want us to be fake.

Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Today we don’t call people Pharisees. But, be assured, they are still all around us.

Back in this day, they were the ones who knew the Bible inside and out. They knew the laws, the protocol, and the procedures of every religious act. They went to the temple every time they were supposed to. They gave money. They kept the Sabbath holy. The outside of their cups were clean. But, in reality, they were deceitful, selfish, prideful, self-righteous, dishonest, greedy, materialistic, and manipulative. They had absolutely shaved, but only from the knee down.

Today, unfortunately, that person still exists; their cup just looks a little more updated. They have a fish on their car. Maybe their kids even go to a Christian school. They know some key Bible verses and can even quote them. They most assuredly have them hung up on the walls of their house. They may wear cross jewelry and have a blinged out cross shirt. Their cups are clean, but so often, only the outside. At home, they gossip about their friends, bad-mouth their spouse, only give a little money (and no time!) to the church occasionally, judge the homeless, avoid the poor and care more about the label on their jeans than the needs of their neighbor. They, too, have shaved, but only from the knee down.

I speak about these people because I used to be one. I wasn’t very blingy, but the concept still remains. I “looked” the part, but had no real change of the heart.

I want to make a disclaimer that none of the Chirstian-ish stuff I mentioned is not “bad”. Some of the most authentic, Jesus-chasing people I know have a fish on their car and a blingy cross on their shirt. That isn’t what I mean. What Jesus looks for is what’s inside. He wants to know if we are just faking it, or if we really have shaved the whole leg.

Jesus was authentic. He was the real deal.

And if we are to be named after Him and be called a Christian, He most certainly wants us to do the same.

DC Talk quoted a wise idea years ago in their super cool song, “What If I Stumble”

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians; who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

So true.

Friend, we are supposed to look different from this world! We are supposed to stand out, but still be authentic. Not perfect, but authentic.

I am not saying that we have to be completely blunt and tell every single person we come into contact with that we are having an awful day.

“Hi there, ma’am, how are you today?” (says the teenaged grocery store clerk)

“Oh kid, you have no clue. Do you know what it’s like to slowly feel like your soul is being sucked out hour by hour by four little children who can’t seem to do anything for themselves and need you every single second of every single day?!!”

(Clerk runs crying in the other direction.)

Yah, see, that is a bit much.

But, if you are having a day like that, then I recommend you find a trustworthy friend, or maybe your spouse, who can help you talk through it. More importantly, someone who can point you to Scripture and Jesus for encouragement. I had to do that just two short days ago. I was completely about to lose it, my strength was gone, my will was wavering, and I had to reach out. I have about seven girlfriends that I KNOW I can call anytime for anything. They’ve seen, in me, the good, the bad, and the super ugly. Remarkably, they stick by me and continue to support me in His Truth. I couldn’t be more thankful for them!

We all need that. Every single one of us!

Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Be honest in front of these people. But, be careful who you choose. Be careful what you say. Don’t go gossip to someone. Don’t bash your boss or your spouse. Be careful of what comes out of your mouth.

James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”

Matthew 15:18 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean.’”

So, friend, I guess the choice is ours. Do we want a clean cup, inside and out? Do we want to be able to attend an impromptu pool party and not be concerned our hairy legs would scare the small children?

Join me and let’s ask ourselves a few questions before God right now.

Am I really going to dive in and do this life right?

Can people see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life?

Do I show people the real me, or just the me I want them to see?

Take some time in prayer. Ask God to give you people you can trust. People who can handle the knee-up hairy truth. Read the Bible. Spend time in prayer. Be involved with a group of fellow believers who are willing to go on this journey alongside you. Friend, I assure you they have nicks and cuts and razor burn just like you do.

Do it now. Stop reading and pray. I gotta go shave anyway. 🙂

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