The Deacon's Daughter
I'm not really certain when I realized what "labeling" was....or what it meant. I do remember that I was very young and that the first label that was slapped on my back was the "Deacon's Daughter". Now, at the very young age of 7 or 8, that meant no more to me than my Daddy breaking the bread and pouring the wine at our annual communion and foot washing every May.
But as time went by and daily confrontations about my family's beliefs and convictions were raging....I started to understand that labeling was usually more important to the "labelER" than the "labelED". I attended school in the Bible Belt and didn't realize that those around me were being raised very similar to me, without the obvious signs like my wearing dresses all of the time, or my family not having a TV. We spent our Sundays with churches who were like minded for the most part, then on Monday I was back in school with children and sadly teachers who taunted, made fun of and questioned our "strange" life style. I was so very intimidated by the words of a young man (no names here) who I thought had no clue of God and salvation my seventh grade year. He was surrounded by a gaggle of girls who laughed at every cruel thing he said to me. I spent that year dodging into darkened doorways, hiding in the bathroom and hanging my head at lunch. I also spent a lot of time in prayer. By this time in my life I was a saved individual with an experience that was all mine. I was still very young and without a lot of personal convictions, but I trusted my parents. Some of my earliest memories were of them praying. I would hide near Daddy's prayer place to listen to him pray...and it comforted me when I heard him call my name with his knees in the dirt and his head bowed. There were times I held my breath when he would reach Heaven too afraid to move.
Anyway, after a couple of years of my parents going to the school board, intimidation, humiliation and such...I was ready to move on to high school. Something changed around that time, my own convictions were lodging in my heart and I started noticing things going on around me. First of all, I realized that the boy who so humiliated me was the grandson of an "old time Baptist preacher" and that he was in no way ignorant to our way of life. Secondly, I started gaining my footing through the preaching I was hearing at church and the ever constant love and guidance of "The Deacon" and his dear wife.
My three years in high schoool (graduated one year early through summer correspondence at UK) weren't "easy" but I only called my parents to my rescue one time during those years to help me deal with and get the grade I was due from a PE teacher who was charging me a "penalty" for dress standards. My parents never had to go board of education that time, I stood with both feet planted firmly on the ground and eye to eye and slowly, respectfully and with MUCH fear had my say to the teacher. and I didn't DIE or FAINT....I was so excited with my newly discovered ability... equality!! Woo-hoo! I, the dress- wearing, non- football game-going, pro-life, pro- child, anti lying, not so perfect, Deacon's Daughter had faced the enemy and won! I felt like the biblical David...and at that point the teacher was most certainly Goliath!
Those were hard years for me as I struggled to find a balance between my "church" acquaintances whom often declared that my parents were to "lenient" with me and my "school" peers and teachers who challenged my beliefs constantly. Oddly, I found that balance from learning from the relationships that didn't fall in either of those categories. I quickly learned that adults who felt threatened by my beliefs, for whatever reason, were almost always on the defensive. Likewise, I learned that those who were just curious had a way of honestly asking questions. Most importantly, I learned that my perception played the biggest role of all.
Someone recently suggested to me that my wearing dresses was a way of screaming" I'm a Christian". I didn't say anything, I just held my conviction close to my heart. I wanted to say (but didn't because I wasn't *asked* anything (another characteristic of the "threatened) : I suppose having the Holy Bible on my living room end table would be the same thing...but it's there, and there it will stay. Folks are going to think and believe what they want to think and believe.
So, in closing this scattered post, I will leave the words of wisdom from my favorite Deacon:
Serve the Lord for yourself. (Ultimately, it's me that will stand before God and give an account for my ragged life)
Everything that hoots ain't a hoot owl. (Regardless of words, dress, life, etc....just because some one "says so" don't make it so and vise versa)
If you sweep it under the rug, eventually you will make a pile and you (or even worse, someone else) is sure to trip over it. Clean up your messes as you make them.
- ► 2010 (10)