One of the delights of making a new friend is the opportunity to get acquainted with one's self all over again. As I shared an afternoon walk 'round the neighborhood with the lady next door, we also shared snippets from our life experiences. And in describing my younger self, the words jumped out of my mouth: "I was a good girl!"
Hearing them out loud, I nearly gasped in surprise and sucked the words right back in. But they were already out, spilled onto the sidewalk. And so we went on.
A week later, I'm still pondering that remark. Because I really was a good girl. I complained about the rules, but I followed them. I protested, but I obeyed. I never had a secret boyfriend. I didn't change into jeans when I left the house. I never listened to secular music. I got rid of books that had the mildest of "language". I returned the necklace that Mom thought was too gaudy. I saved my first kiss for my wedding day. I filled out activity permission forms. I read my Bible and prayed every day.
For years I considered myself a "rebel". I had been labeled "stiff-necked" early on, a "scorner", a "mocker", a leader of the resistance. My mom had had a dream when I was eleven that I was "sitting in the seat of the scornful". I had an "independent spirit", which explained why I got spanked so frequently as a kid. It would be hard for me to have a happy marriage because of my unsubmissive heart. Every time my words had a sarcastic edge, every time I inwardly rolled my eyes, every time I was uncooperative, I knew I was guilty of rebellion again.
So it came as a pleasant surprise to hear myself say, "I was a good girl!" Something somewhere deep inside has healed.
I still am a good girl. A vocal, opinionated, independent good girl. While I appreciate and admire edginess, I really prefer to color inside the lines myself.
And that's good, too.