I stand there just staring. How can this child be so persistent? Why can’t she just accept that the answer is no? Why? Why do I have to tell her no, not because I really have a reason, but because someone else is making me tell her no?
“Because that’s not allowed.”
She stands there staring. I can tell what she’s thinking. My momma doesn’t understand. Why do I have to be so different? Why do I have to be the only girl who can’t do this because she drags me to some stupid church?
“But what is wrong with piercing my ears?”
I sigh. I don’t know what is wrong with piercing her ears. With buying her a swimsuit and letting her swim in the same pool as a boy. With letting her wear pants and leggings and jeans. With letting her wear a princess costume and going to our neighbors and getting candy. With buying her presents and seeing her face light up. I don’t know what is wrong with everything considered a part of a normal childhood in America. I don’t know, so I just repeat the same tired thing my own Momma told me.
“Because the church forbids it.”
That was always the reason.
No, you can’t go to her house, because the church forbids it. No, you can’t wear that, because the church forbids it. No, you can’t eat that, because the church forbids it. No, you can’t listen to that…read that…watch that…attend that…play that…do that…BECAUSE THE CHURCH FORBIDS IT. That was my life. From the time I was 3 years old, I was told no. No to swim lessons because I’d have to wear a swimsuit AND I’d be bathing in the same water as a boy. No to playing with the boys because I was the daughter of Eve and I’d deceive their little souls away from God. No to having friends outside the place because one day we’d face persecution and those friends would turn us over the authorities. No to wearing jewelry because that was vanity and a women’s vanity was horribly wicked…and so apparently was that of a little girl. And NO, most definitely NO to doing ANYTHING to alter ones body. So, NO to earrings.
And then my daughter went to public school and she was exposed to girls who wore earrings and the fights began. They should have ended the day we left that place. But they didn’t. Eventually “Because the church forbids it” didn’t cut it. I had to give this child a good reason. So I chose to compromise by putting it off as long as possible. Finally this summer, at age 15, I signed the papers to pierce my daughter’s ears. And then she asked me when I was going to pierce my own.
It’s been a long time coming. I’ve wrestled with it. I’ve let the fear of the pain keep me from making a decision. But deep down inside there was a fear that I couldn’t back out of this once they were pierced and that God would hold me accountable for disobeying a law that had been in my life since I can remember. And then I remembered I kindly told that law off.
So, I made plans with my sister and we laughed nervously about being the rebellious heathens we are not and then we brought a mutual friend into our plans and it was game on. I considered backing out because the husband wasn’t still on board with his wife piercing her ears but he knows and I know that I was going to do it anyway, so his protest was just for show.
Today, on my 42nd birthday, I pierced my ears. For the first time. Ever. So did my sister. And it was an amazing experience with one of us in tears, the other silently roaring as loud as she could and the third laughing because when you see people set free it’s worth celebrating!
The Jewish system had a method whereby a slave could make a lifetime commitment to his master, called a bond slave. To show his willingness to stay with his master they pierced his ear (I’m sure it was not as neat and tidy). I pierced my ears, not to bind myself to sin but to life. I no longer live in a world of legalism, control and abuse but in a world with grace and truth and mercy and peace and love and joy. To loudly proclaim I no longer belong to a man but to God, my Abba. This was our proclamation of freedom.
As my friends rejoiced with me, and they knew the significance of this, someone made a comment. One that made me think of a TV jingle…
Sometimes it takes a while to grow up, but I’m getting there. Momma, I’m a big girl now.