After graduation, I attended a Christian Bible College (on scholarship), was a missionary in Mexico building houses for the poor, waited to have sex until I married (and I mean REALLY waited--no "everything but" for this good little girl). I wrote curriculum for and taught Children's Church and traveled in a gospel singing group on the weekends, too.
As I read over this opening, it sort of shocks me that it's true. I know people can write anything they want, and exaggeration and lying are par for the course on the internet, but I really DID all these things (and more) in my youth in my quest for goodness.
Some of you might be impressed, some might want to vomit, but stay with me...I'm going somewhere important with all of this.
I'm not going to get into the paticulars of my descent into personal hell...it is a private story that is not only mine to share in such a public forum.
But when I arose from the ashes, from the belly of the whale, from my three days in the tomb, my goodness was dead.
Please don't mistake my meaning--this in no way is a comment on religion, monotheism, or goodness as ends unto themselves, just an honest exploration of my own metamorphosis.
The good little girl died, but I grew up.
When I say goodness died, I mean I stopped "being good". I stopped measuring myself, my accomplishments, and my worth by an outside rulebook (a moral yardstick if you will). I stopped comparing myself to any external ideal of rightness, holiness, beauty, or success. I gave up appearing to be anything other than what I was, instead following the immortal words of Joseph Campbell:
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”
For some growing up is a process, for me it was a revelation. As a little girl, I was used to revelations, so this should come as no surprise really, but like a butterfly is to the caterpillar, so I was after my good little chrysalis shattered.
Caterpillars are sweet, good little creatures...but butterflies are better.
For the most part, being an adult butterfly is glorious...there are high days and low days, but I wouldn't trade a single, honest one for the "good" caterpillar days. Not one.
For me, the good little girl was the foundation that needed to be broken for the "real" me to escape. I'm thankful for those days, as well as the suffering that freed me from them, for they form the context that created "me".
I cherish the chrysalis of my childhood, it's probably why I love dolls so very much today. A doll captures the beautiful innocence of being a little girl, as well as all the burgeoning potential slowly awakening, waiting for its release in womanhood.
A girl's doll is her friend when she has none, a confidant when she has secrets, a partner for adventures, a safe place to lash out and safely confront the darker sides of her inner world, and a reminder of her own precious beingness every day of her becoming.
The good little girl can't last...but the doll is a treasured beacon of all that is wonderful about that passing time, as well as a reminder that the child, the caterpillar, the good little girl is always a part of us. But only a part.
Some of you may be shouting a hearty "amen" to this post, others might still be longing to find their own butterfly, and still others may be painfully breaking forth from your own chrysalis. Pick up that precious doll and give her a hug, for life may be full of pain and suffering (and irritability and monotony), but it is also replete with tea parties and mountains to conquer and people to love.
It's good that the good die young...for on the other side of tutored goodness, comes the truth of your own unique brand of honest deliciousness. I call this embracing the "Yum" of life.
Embrace the Yum!
"We save the world by being alive ourselves."