Growing up, I always assumed that the things I knew were the same for everyone else. I grew up happy, I grew up free. I grew up with parents dedicated and loving and outside of the box. Most people have had to learn these lessons after years and years of being an adult and trying to find their place in the world. Here's five of the most important lessons my parents taught me.
#1 YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHARE EVERYTHING YOU OWN
My parents never stressed sharing my toys with others I knew wouldn't treasure them like I did. Little girls (and boys) are told to be quiet, to let others play with your things.
Don't be selfish.
Don't be rude.
He's just a boy, that's what boys do.
My mama and daddy told me what's mine, is mine. You only share what you're comfortable with.
#2 YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU
No one has the right to touch you if you don't want them to. My daddy would hold me and tell me there were people out there who wanted to hurt me, because they don't know Jesus like we do. It doesn't matter who it is, if you don't like it, run to me.
My mama taught me to be loud. She told me I was strong. She told me that darkness can not last if you turn the light on.
Girls are told to be quiet, girls are taught to be meek. My parents told me to be a lion, because a lion isn't weak. Daddy told me where the soft places are if I needed to kick and run, and said he'd be my protector if things became undone. They said you have a voice. Use it loud and clear, don't let darkness try to swallow you-you're the bigger one here.
#3 YOUR BODY IS NOT A MYSTERY
My background is in the thick of the bible belt, home schooled and sheltered - by all accounts. Some people are proud that their children don't know the intricacies of anatomy. They're glad that their children don't know what their own bodies do. Mysteries are dangerous to children. Mysteries are what children want to solve in their innocence of fallen humanity. My parents? They pulled out medical books and taught us how the body worked.
We didn't learn silly words that made our bodies sound like a joke. We learned what science called them, how God made human bodies work.
If you solve the mystery before it starts, there's less seeking to figure it out.
#4 THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS 'COOL'
Kids have this thing about being cool, to the point of looking insane. My parents told me to look and act the way that honors God, and then the rest is up to me - no one else. That meant dressing how I wanted, no matter how mismatched and crazy I looked. It meant experimenting with makeup, or going without. It meant wearing vintage clothes exclusively, or only denim skirts.
They taught me that if I felt beautiful and happy, then I was. That's all that mattered.
#5 USE MORE NOES AND SAVE YOUR YESES
As some wise people have put it, "No is a sentence, not only a word." Say no if you don't want to go out with people because you're exhausted. Say no if you don't want to play in the dark. Say no when someone wants to touch you. Say no to the boys who want to break your heart. Say no when someone tells you to be silent, that it's better if you don't speak up.
Try something new say yes. Say yes to traveling, say yes to new friends, say yes to that cake even if you're "on a diet". Say yes to running so hard you can feel your heart in your mouth. Say yes to sleeping under the stars. Say yes to opportunity that is not what you're used to. Say yes to good books and good coffee.
PS. It feels good to write again.