As the daughter, grand daughter and daughter in law of pastors, I've had plenty of practice being a good girl. Some of it comes naturally--for example, I had horrible asthma attacks as a kid and cigarette smoke would make me gag, so I was never tempted to smoke. Alcohol, even the good stuff, tastes like flavored perfume to me, so drinking is not my thing. I'd much rather spend the calories on a fabulous coffee drink. I've never even been offered drugs (yeah, I'm sheltered) but I've seen enough heartbreak in others' lives to not be interested, and medicines do weird stuff to me, so I don't like the way I feel when I take them. I've never even kissed anyone besides Carlos, and we saved sex for our marriage. I don't even speed (yes, I am the annoying person going exactly the speed limit when you can't pass and are late!).
Honestly, part of me really, really likes rules. Having very defined boundaries with regulations, and spelled-out consequences for disregarding them feels safe to me. Growing up, my family did all of the Gothard stuff--Basic, Advanced, follow-up--and I liked having a guarantee of solving every problem (my own and anyone else's) by following seven simple steps. When I taught K-12, I felt secure when I was following the handbook to the letter and making sure that my students did that, too. I devoured books by people like Charles Finney and Elisabeth Elliot, and passionately persued holiness.
It is actually pretty amazing that I didn't wind up using some super-strict Ezzo-esque parenting philosophy. But, somehow, after Ariana was born, I found myself more and more willing to let go. I'd been working on the "obey" part for a long time, now I became more interested in learning to "trust". To trust God's design of my body and my daughter's body. To not worry about being manipulated, but to allow myself to love lavishly. Of course, in its own way, that can become legalistic, too, but there was a cool feeling about deliberately loosening my control. It felt just like jumping off the high dive for the first time. Scary, but also freeing.
Don't get me wrong; I think that doing justly is important. I want my children to grow up with a heart that burns for holiness, that delights in obeying God. But I am finally learning to love mercy. There is so much joy in giving freely of compassion and grace, not fearing that I will be taken advantage of. And in clinging to mercy, I've begun to truly believe that I have received it. That is a powerful thing. I'm finding that it transforms my walk with God. It is good. Micah 6:8.