As a “recovering perfectionist,” I have to remind myself quite often that the goal is rarely flawless execution, but rather agility, authenticity and serenity in my life. Practice makes progress, indeed.
I’m born and bred in Texas, a state where barbecue and Southern Baptists define much of the culture. In response to this, I declared myself a vegetarian and born-again heretic sometime in junior high. Being contrary became a favorite hobby.
I delighted in the “Meat is Murder” bumper sticker on my first car and studied theology so I could argue intelligently with anyone carrying a zip-up bible and proclaiming a corner on the Truth. In fact, I ended up in a pre-ministry program in college, imagining a career for myself in the Unitarian Universalist community.
Around 1996, I met the extraordinary Mary Daly, a radical feminist theologian whose call to action for spiritual seekers was, “Sin Big!”
At the time, I interpreted that to mean “stick it to the man,” or some variation thereof. I still admire voices of cultural and religious dissention, those brave souls like Mary Daly who challenge the status quo and challenge us to think bolder.
But Sin Big has a very different more personal meaning for me lately. The call to Sin Big double dares me to know my truth and own my power, something that at times feels like a deadly transgression against my inner Good Girl. She just wants to make everybody happy, experience no unpleasant feelings, and look perfect from the outside. And I do believe that listening to her was killing my spirit.
Being a Good Girl was a family role I took on with relish and one which got me a lot of pats on the head in school and society. Who doesn’t like the girl or woman who’s agreeable, eager to please, and always has matching accessories? But I was cut off from any sense of self and it manifested in some quite disturbing ways: anxiety, depression, food issues, dysfunctional relationships, and way too much drinking. I was unhappy and unfulfilled and spent my teens and 20s looking for something or somebody to “fix” me.
At 31, I experienced a complete crisis of faith in life as I had been living it and made some radical changes in my lifestyle. I was either going to lose my mind, or something was going to shift.
And shift happened. I started seriously questioning that Good Girl’s operating system, declaring large chunks of it complete rubbish, then acting as if until a new behavior became grooved. Basically, I started to Sin Big.
The sinning is ongoing, my friends, and it’s beautiful. I believe that my purpose on this planet is to grow into my own skin, to be the most authentic Leah possible and share myself with others in genuine relationships. That Good Girl is the antithesis of all that. When I Sin Big today, it’s about going against her rules, her codes, and her standards of behavior. Because I was not born to “get good,” I was born to blaze trails.