Moving Out

1:43 PM

Maiden4Jesus. I chose that email address when I was eleven, and I cringe every time I write it down on an official form, scholarship application, or any other piece of paper where an adult can look over my shoulder and smirk. Humiliation.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with it, per se, except that "maiden" is such an antiquated word that made me feel set apart from the androgyny of the day; and that I was trying to make a spiritual statement which comes across so childlike now that I'm nineteen and know how to make spiritual statements in ways bigger than my email address. At least, I hope I do.

Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to beg my dad to change the address. He's offered in the past, knowing far better than my teenage self that I would one day regret such an unprofessional address.

In any case, I do know how to change a blog name. You notice the tab no longer says "Big House in the Little Woods"? Yes. I grew out of that house, big as it was, grew out of that creative space encapsulated in the name. I no longer spend most of my time at my real big house, anyway; I'm a college girl. And even though my family still defines me in certain ways and though I look forward to the exhilarating crunch of the gravel driveway as I pull up to my home, I am independent now.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up.

You can read about the name change in the pages tab underneath the header. Here I want to address something else: what about all those old posts?

Do you remember them? The ones where I blasted feminism and radiated joy about stay-at-home daughters? The ones where I tried so hard to be interested in crocheting as a life goal? The ones where I so wittily and powerfully denounced the egalitarianism of the time? The ones that showed brainwashing by ultra-conservative, patriarchal propaganda?

Those posts embarrass me. It humiliates me when people mention them, humiliates me even more when said people like them. "People," I want to beg, "how can you find those arguments convincing in the least? They were silly and uninformed. How naive do you have to be to see any profit in them?"

The whole stay-at-home daughter issue. . .friends, I wasted so much passion and time and brain cells over something which brings God no greater glory, which will not impact the world in a substantial way, which trapped me into so much fear, confusion, and misunderstanding about the sexes that I'm still unwinding the mess to this day. I stopped writing about it because I care that little about it -- so much so that I do not even see it as something worthy to be addressed, yea or nay.

Why then do I not delete those posts entirely? Why not take a proverbial Sharpie to the post archives and black out every single silly post -- as with the diary of mine in which I tore out and blackened every mention of my third grade crush and my mean-spirited observations about the people I love? When I did the twelve-year-old purge of my diary, I did not yet understand the concept of God's grace. I didn't understand His willingness and power at redeeming the years locusts eat. I didn't understand the storyline of life, how God works all things together and never fails to complete the sanctification of His saints.

I didn't understand any of that. I saw only shame, and I saw only my stark duty to eliminate my shame, so I paid penance for my past evils by blotting out every mention of my sin and stupidity.

With my blog archives, while the sting of embarrassment makes me cringe, the shame does not overwhelm me. I saw God redeem all my attempts at pleasing Him and making myself look good before Him through the man-made stay-at-home daughter paradigm. I can look back on my past and see only redemption. Because I believed much of what patriarchy taught, I was able to write for a large website and slip in the bits of Gospel grace and freedom from man-made rules as God taught them to me. Some of you, my readers, stuck around for the whole ride, beginning to end, and I saw God work the same grace and liberation in us together. I see the progression of thought in my ignorant blasting of feminism and my immovable stand on women at home to a more gracious understanding of the purpose of womanhood through the lens of the Gospel.

And I want people to see that redemption. To know that their past does not have to define them. To understand that they don't have to purge their sin and their shame but merely allow the Savior to redeem everything imperfect and unholy. To believe that no matter what sort of lies or sin they're stuck in, God delivers. Even if it takes a while.

This is my story. It's the story God wrote; it's the people God allowed me to interact with; it's the things He permitted me to write. He knew what He was doing, even when I had no clue. I cannot erase the hand of God from my life.

Maybe, maybe, girls struggling with the same things I did will read about where I am now and get a glimpse of hope that they too can change. That's what I pray. And as I move on to a new blog name and a new focus and a new season of my life, I want to celebrate where I've come from and where I'm going -- because redemption brings that kind of joy.

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9 impressions

  1. Wow! This post was so refreshing to read and really spoke to things I've struggled with! I've followed your blog for a long time and haven't commented for awhile. Coming from my own experience, its so easy to get caught up in the trivial things and fall into legalism and really forget the true meaning of God's grace and his glorious Gospel! Thank you for posting this! :)

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  2. I too had one of those email addresses. Thanks to my preteen/teenage obsession with Christian rock, I was "anticonformity_chick" (from a Krystal Meyer song). I had a good excuse to change my email when I started my Etsy shop.

    Anyway, well said. And I still read and enjoy all of your posts, though I may not comment as much as I used to. :)

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  3. Ah, Bailey....even though I don't usually comment, I want you to know that I always read your posts. And they're really encouraging. I feel like I'm on somewhat of the same journey right now.

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  4. You know, an independent woman could create her own email address.

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  5. An independent woman knows how to use her resources wisely, too. ;)

    Sarah K. -- do email me, love, if you need anything along your journey. All the best to you.

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  6. Haven't we all said or written things that we wish could be buried, burned, or something permanent that would hide them from humanity's collective eyes forever. At least, I have ;-)

    Sometimes I remember your adamant posts about forgoing college and the wasteland that is higher education. Then I read your beautiful posts about how you are learning and growing like crazy at Hillsdale. And then I smile. Who woulda thunk it. I'm so,so glad that we serve a God of grace, redemption, and enormous imagination.

    I am going through a season of purification. God has been opening my eyes to the sin and inconsistency in my own life and showing me what it means to take up my cross. It's painful. Most of the time I feel like it's not worth it, but I force myself to remember, Further up and further in, press on towards the goal, keep running the race.

    Transformation is hard. But then, we didn't choose an easy religion.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing! I definitely can relate to the feeling of shame over what you have written in the past, and it is very wise of you to look back on God's grace in the journey instead of trying to obliterate all memory of it.

    I found your blog in early 2011, and at that time, I was really struggling with the typical conservative Christian views of womanhood. I was not interested in domestic arts, and even though I saw immense value in motherhood, I could not be one of those gentle, sweet ladies who gardened flowers and made cute crafts and loved the color pink. Although none of the articles I read would actually tell me that I had to be that way, overall they seemed to be championing particular attributes which were contrary to my nature. This was very difficult for me, because I felt like these well-meaning writers were telling me that I was somehow less godly just because God gave me a different personality and interests.

    There was no way that I could ever fit into their mold of what a woman should be... I was the kind of girl who stepped on her skirt going up the stairs and ripped it, and as far as I could see, I was a lot more modest, comfortable, and able to glorify God when I was wearing pants! For the most part, I was content with who I was, how I dressed, and what interested me, but it was very difficult to defy the standards of both the world and the Christian circles. I felt judged as less than, and even though I knew I was fine, I felt very alone.

    If it is any comfort to you as you recall those old posts, I would like you to know that I thought you were the voice of reason among all the other women writing about these topics. I did not agree with everything you said, but I felt that you had a common sense view of these issues, and your differences brought authenticity to your principles. I really respected you, even when I thought you were wrong, because I could see that you were not choosing these ideals just because they seemed to fit with what you wanted.

    Because I could relate to you on so many points, you were a huge encouragement to me, and it has been wonderful to grow along with you. Your blog has been a tremendous blessing to me, and I will be thankful forever for the influence you have had on me.

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  8. it's crazy how God changes people over the years. when i look back to how i believed and thought about the world 3 years ago and then see how i think/believe now, i'm blown away by the difference. and i'm sure i'll feel the same way in another 3 years, looking back on now.

    on another note, i probably should peruse some of those old blog archives sometime and look at all my comments on those said posts... hmm... i think we've grown together, bailes. ;) love you!

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  9. Yes! Maybe it's just the place I'm coming from right now but I sense at this time a lot of freedom and balance beginning to spring up in those of us that were raised with fundamentalist christian beliefs. I relate a lot, and there are lots of blog posts I kinda want to delete even though my views probably weren't as extreme as a lot of people's. I even thought about burning my journals recently, but my sister wisely encouraged me to hang onto them. I read some of them again and to read what kind of a person I was 5 years ago both made me cringe but also made me praise God! Sometimes I don't see a lot of progress day by day but to be able to look back and say, "yes, God, your spirit IS changing me" is so great. I look forward to see what God does in all of our lives as we try to figure out life together now.

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