I've been called a lot of things in my life.
Sweet. Sassy. Snarky. Beautiful. Nice. Funny. Flirtacious. The list could go on and on.
I love some of the descriptors I've been given. I can't stand others. And still others, I have a love-hate relationship with.
One such descriptor is "good girl."
I've been called a good girl by countless people in a ton of different contexts over my twenty-five years of life. I'm sure my parents called me a good girl when I was first learning things like how to walk and talk, or when I was a young child and learning to follow directions, read, and a gazillion other things. At that generally young age, I embraced the title.
I loved being called a good girl because it meant I had done well, that my parents and others around me were pleased and proud of who I was and what I did.
As I got older, the intention behind the words "good girl" began to change. And my love relationship with the descriptor morphed into a love-hate one that was mostly hate or general frustration.
I'm one of those girls you might've called a prude, depending on who you are and when we met.
I didn't kiss anyone until I was 22. I'm not entirely sure when I went on my first actual date, but the first one I knew was definitely supposed to be a date was on my 23rd birthday. I've only had one boyfriend.
When I went to college, I was a marvel to many of my friends. I'd never been on a date, had a boyfriend, or even held hands with a guy — much less kissed one. I was the epitome of a "good girl." And for a while, I was okay with that descriptor because it gave me some great opportunities to share about my faith.
Among my non-believing friends, I still don't mind that label because it means they recognize there's something different about me. Even if sometimes they don't view it as the most positive thing, every person I've talked to about my relationship history — or general lack thereof — has told me how much they respect and admire me for having that kind of self-control and personal conviction.
The place where I can't stand that descriptor? The place where I hate to be labeled a "good girl"? The Church.
I grew up during the height of purity culture. I was told that my purity was a rose and I had to protect it, so I did. Fiercely. For years.
And when I made the "mistake" of giving my rose away (ie. letting a man who turned out to not be my husband kiss me), I was wrecked with guilt for months. I no longer knew how to be who I'd been my whole life — the "good girl." And I didn't feel like I could talk about it in the Church, because in the Church, being the good girl was the prize, the ultimate goal.
So for the last few years, I've struggled.
I've struggled between learning a lot more about myself, changing my understanding of certain things, letting the Lord redeem broken parts of my life and my past and my expectations, and letting Him speak truth into the lies I've believed, and still being labeled the good girl, because in the Church, the good girl fits into a box and it's one I'm learning I don't really fit into anymore.
Here's what I'm learning.
I'm learning I enjoy the physical side of a relationship. I like holding hands and cuddling. I also like kissing and making out. And (gasp) I'm looking forward to sex in my marriage (heaven forbid!).
And guess what? I also struggle with lust. Because, newsflash, it isn't just something men struggle with. (But that's another post for another day.)
I love Jesus a whole lot and I want my life to bring honor and glory to Him. But I don't believe that He meant for me to feel guilt or shame about enjoying the things He gave us to enjoy in relationships. I don't believe He meant for me to feel guilt or shame about admitting I struggle with certain things. Nor do I believe He ever wanted that stigma of guilt and shame to exist because all it does is perpetuate brokenness and delay or prevent healing.
So, if being a good girl means I have to fit into your box and your expectations, if it means I can't admit I struggle with or enjoy certain things because that's not what a "good girl" would do, if it means I have to feel guilty or ashamed or hide parts of myself in order to not disappoint you, then you can take your "good girl" status and shove it, because I don't want it.
But if being a "good girl" means I live my life loving Jesus and trying my hardest to please Him in all I do and say, if it means striving daily to honor and glorify Him with my life, if it means being honest with myself and others about where I'm doing well and where I'm struggling, if it means living life abundantly and making God extravagantly joyful at the pleasure I take in the gifts He's given, then I want to be known as a "good girl." In fact, it's a label I would fight to have.
Photo by Holly Elizabeth Photography. Used with permission.