So this post is going to be majorly exceptional in that I will not open it by mentioning my obsession with Jack Bauer or my crush on Robert Goren. Nope, not even going to think about it. But this post will also not be exceptional in any way in that it will open with a reference to some television show half of you either have not seen or care nothing for, and it will discuss some philosophies I picked up at Repentance and my revised views on them.
Changing the subject, I am always vastly entertained to watch the show Phineas and Ferb. Dr. Hans Doofenschmirtz is the best villain ever, with all his half-baked and semi-evil schemes for conquering or revenging himself upon the entire tri-state area! The best part about him, though, is his Emotionally Scarring Backstories. He always has one to explain the motives behind his latest dastardly deed, because how will you know why the villain is villainous unless he just straight-up tells you? Anyway, I would like to share with you an Emotionally Scarring Backstory from the distant archives of my youth.
When we went to Repentance, I actually had it pretty good. I was always the Good Girl, which was important because gender roles were absolutely rigid. Women were supposed to be quiet, sweet, submissive, and possess an inordinate fondness for housekeeping and an infinite capacity for work. Except for being sweet, I got along fairly well. I have rather a passive personality, I’ve never minded housework, and I love children. I always thought it would suit me grandly to just marry and settle down. Also, I possessed, in great quantities, the convenient lack of any sense of self-worth. Practically the only thing I didn’t do was sew my own clothes. And to be scrupulously honest, I didn’t really feel like I was being forced into any of this. I fit, beautifully, the mold they constructed for a Good Woman.
Now we’re out, I feel so different that I wonder if I was ever a good girl at all. Maybe it was all due less to my own personality than to my very human ability to adapt to social pressure.
Good Girl Andrea may as well be dead now for all the influence she exerts over me. It’s very possible I slipped ricin in her tea (it’s vitrually untraceable. I make a point of knowing these things, and it’s absolutely none of your business why), because she is just gone. In Repentance, the very idea of being a career woman was utterly repulsive, and now I’m finding I rather like the notion. Mostly, girls were supposed to train their whole lives for marriage and motherhood and just take it from there. Singleness was less a choice than a curse. But do you know something? I don’t think I’m really the marrying type at all— for a variety of reasons, but chiefly because I doubt very much that Detective Goren will ask. And as for being dependant and meek; I’m making an active effort to learn to take care of myself and control my own life. And for those of you who don’t know, me “making an active effort” to do anything is pretty much a broken record right there. Basically, I’ve abandoned everything they told me about gender roles. And guess what?
I always doubted that I would be married, and I had therefore braced myself for a life of sitting at home, writing children’s books, and waiting— futilely, skeptically, but obediently — for Mr. Right (or, as I would vastly prefer, Agent Right) to prance into view. Now, I still doubt the marriage thing, but I am bracing myself for a life of sheer, unmitigated awesomeness. Maybe I will write children’s books (I illustrated a children’s book! It’s not out yet, but trust me, it is fully awesome. My boss wrote it.), but it won’t be because I have nothing else to do. It won’t be because that’s all I have; it won’t be just a placeholder, a temporary fix until my real life begins. It will be because I want to. Because I choose to. And because publishers will be begging me to on their hands and knees (wait, what?).
Now, before I continue, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against marriage, and I do not believe that it robs one of one’s individuality or whatever. Some of my favorite people are married, and they pull it off beautifully. I’m sure it’s absolutely marvelous, and if no one ever got married the world would be a dark place indeed. I like the idea very much. I just don’t feel like I’m cut out for it. But who knows? I’m only nineteen. It might end up that I am cut out for it after all. (Strike that! I just remembered that Robert Goren is fictional. Curses! At least I still have Jack Bauer. Don’t you dare crush my dreams.)
Anyway, previously I was led to believe that a woman without a husband was just drifting aimlessly. She was sad and lonely, and life for her was a white canvas with nothing on it save for the words “It might have been” painted very blackly all across. Females were not allowed to be their own people. We were supposed to do as we were told, and like it. And once, I thought that life would make me happy. But now? Now I’m just going to fling myself at the unsuspecting world and see how well it takes the shock. Derisive laughter is the reaction I’m preparing myself for, but you never know. Maybe it will be pitying laughter.
Oh, but I haven’t told you the half of it yet! You’ll never guess what career has taken my fancy. I want to be a police officer. In Repentance that’s nothing less than all-out apostasy. A woman. A female. In. The. Police force. But I shall explain to you the thought process that led to this scandalous decision, and perhaps you will be inclined to look more kindly upon me.
Basically, it all boils down to my conviction that I possess the right qualities for such a job. I have an all-consuming passion for justice and a ferocious desire to protect the innocent from those who would do them harm. I already suspect 95% percent of the human race of being in some way involved in criminal behavior. I’m nearly six feet tall, and I can be fairly intimidating when I want to be. The whole system fascinates me, from the psychology of the criminals themselves, to forensics, to the law itself. Even sitting on the side of the road watching for speeders— a task I shall no doubt be performing for years — holds great appeal for me. Plus, I want to kick a door in. At least once.
And it is my great love for God and His creation, the human race, that motivates me to reach for this goal. I want, more than anything, to make a difference; to do something, however small, that leaves the world just a little brighter. And if I can be a police officer, if I want to do this, why shouldn’t I? Ignoring this desire God has placed in my heart is, I believe, fully comparable to burying my talents in the backyard. You remember that story, don’t you? Several men were given sums of money; one used it to its greatest advantage— he worked with what he had been given — and another simply buried it in the ground. I want to be the smart one in that equation. I have a talent. I have a passion. I won’t bury it to fulfill someone else’s dream for a world full of pretty little homemakers.
The one huge, hideous mistake we make as Christian women (indeed, as Christians at all) is believing that we are born as shapeless lumps of clay, and before us is the square hole into which we are commanded to fit. We spend our lives molding ourselves into some impossible form we call “perfection.” We pray to be perfect squares, and the parts that refuse to contribute to our squareness, those bits that can’t be smoothed down or removed, are “holding us back,” and we wish for nothing less than to be rid of them. Ambitions or desires that don’t fit into the square hole are downright evil, so we bury them so deep we don’t recognize them anymore.
Yet we are still misshapen.
But that’s not how it works.
We aren’t born shapeless; from the very first moment of existence, we are fully individual, perfectly unique and uniquely imperfect. We are square pegs already; or round, or triangle, or octagonal, or star-shaped, or we just look like a splotch of indescribable who-knows-what. We are colorful and solid. Life is not about creating yourself. It is about discovering yourself. So many of us spend our lives trying desperately, futilely, to make ourselves into something we’re not, when instead we should be simply looking deeper to see who we already are. God made you already. That part is done. It’s not like there’s no room for self-improvement, but why give your entire self a makeover when it’s fine just the way it is? You will always be you. You can act like someone else and make yourself perfectly miserable, or you can be the person you were designed to be and have the time of your life.
Women especially struggle with this. We see isolated verses in Corinthians about being sweet and gentle and staying at home, and, ignoring the rest of the Bible, we shape our entire lives around twelve— at most, eighteen — lines of text. I could spend all day talking to you about my views on those verses about womanhood, but quite frankly I doubt you could stand an entire day of my company, not to mention the discussion would no doubt devolve into a debate about whether Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyn was the better Mr. Darcy (it’s Matthew MacFadyn hands down). The point is that God never once laid out a format for a woman’s ideal personality, and saying He did is just stupid. Our focus here is far too small, ladies. We frenziedly obsess about whether we are being good women, but we fail, utterly, to ask whether we are being good people. I am a woman, but before that I am a person.
Anyway, that’s all. I still want to be a police officer. Giving speeding tickets is so hardcore. And I believe, as I once did not, that this ambition lines up beautifully with God’s plan for my life. Instead of making myself something different, I’ve decided to embrace and accept the person I already am. I think the world would work so much better if everybody did what they were designed to do in the first place, rather than attempting to shape themselves into something they were never intended for. The strengths you already have are infinitely preferable to the oes you wish for. I would advise you to use them to their greatest advantage. And who knows? Perhaps you will make an impact. I'm rooting for you.