It was the crayons that started me thinking this weekend. A box of Crayola 96 colors crayons that I bought at the store and excitedly showed my husband when I arrived home. ” Look, 96 colors! Isn’t it AMAZING! I have ALWAYS wanted a box of 96 crayons!” He looked perplexed and I went on to explain how, as a little girl, some of my classmates had come to school with the 96 pack instead of the standard 12 or 24. How very much I wanted a pack but never bothered asking for them because they were more expensive and I felt like I shouldn’t ask for or get more expensive things. “You know, honey, it seems to me you’ve been settling for less your entire life.”
Eureka! He’s so right. I have always tried desperately hard to fit into the good girl mold. To keep quiet about my needs,wants, hopes, dreams, and especially my opinions. Good girls just keep those babies to themselves lest they offend or upset someone and receive a ticket straight to hell. At least that’s the way life seemed to me. It became my modus operandi. Stay quiet. Be nice. Sacrifice all your needs and wants for the needs and wants of everyone else. Keep your opinions to yourself. Keep the peace at. all. costs.
Then life happened, my first marriage fell apart, in spite of my trying desperately to follow all the rules. And the good girl mold simply couldn’t hold me in anymore. The cracks began to spread and little rays of strength began to escape. I did the single mom thing for 2 years. I travelled alone with 4 small children for nearly 2000 miles ,on my own ,after never driving for more than a hundred miles on my own previously. I started trying out my voice to make boundaries and say No. And that mold started to crack wide open.
Then good girl Brandy slowly morphed into a brave woman with a wild inner cry of “Towanda” It has not always been pretty ,by the way. It’s taken quite a while to find my sea legs, if you will. I had a hard time finding the right balance. Sometimes I came across too forcefully, other times I backed away and tried to hide behind the good girl mold again. Ya’ll? Life work is HARD. Becoming the best version of yourself will never be easy.
Could it be that God put in me both an incredibly tender heart AND a spirit of courage? That they could combine into someone who will not stand by and watch any sort of injustice or unkindness unfold without becoming involved. That my peace making could transform from a passive voice into an active voice? I believe the answer to those questions is YES! A million times over. I’ve written before about how I have never desired to raise “cookie cutter kids”. I suspect I was also speaking to my own deep seated desire to be completely free from the mold.
I still have work to do. But then, don’t we all. I won’t stop improving myself until I am dead, I suspect. But I want to be who I was fully created to be. A woman of kindness AND a woman of courage. How about you? Are there parts of you that you hold back because you feel like they would make you too much to others? To the world? To the church you attend? What steps can you take to step out a little more and be brave………..
One of the books(of many) that has helped me on my journey is Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. http://smile.amazon.com/dp/1476717257