People’s personalities, like buildings, have various facades, some pleasant to view, some not. ― Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Little Miss Church Girl was birthed in California by a fourteen-year-old mother who was molested and impregnated by a fifty-year-old man—a man who just also happened to be the pastor of the church that most of her family attended.
Not exactly a righteous beginning. But then again, Little Miss Church Girl eventually became awfully good at turning up her nose at others who did immoral things in her eyes. She never knew the assaulter, her biological father, because he died when she was two years old. But later Little Miss Church Girl would have to deal with the un-forgiveness she harbored against that man. She wouldn’t survive unless she did.
In the meantime, her mother did the best she could, remarkable considering how naive and confused she was, a young girl from small town Arkansas who knew nothing of the world, men, or sex when she was first molested by the trusted pastor at age twelve. She took toddler Little Miss Church Girl to the same church he had Pastored before his death, a denomination whose parishioners were mostly African-American. Though her mother—understandably—eventually lost interest in church and focused instead on trying to make ends meet for her daughter and herself, Little Miss Church Girl was still drawn to it and was allowed to continue to attend with her aunt, who had loved the Lord from a very young age.
The church’s strict, legalistic approach to Christianity molded Little Miss Church Girl into its do-no-wrong mentality. By the time she was ready to start middle school, Little Miss Church Girl was well versed in how to properly dress in long skirts, properly wear her face free from makeup and jewelry, and properly look down on anyone else who dared to do otherwise. Her holier-than-thou attitude wasn’t helped by the many church kids who teased her for, of all things, being too dark-skinned and having a wide nose and short hair. After being told the circumstances that led to her birth, Little Miss Church Girl was hurt, bewildered, and couldn’t understand how a supposed man of God could do that to her mother. It also reinforced within her a sense that she was inherently bad. This attitude, paired with an almost paralyzing fear of rejection, characterized Little Miss Church Girl as middle school got underway.
By this time, Little Miss Church Girl’s mother had not only returned to church, she was teaching adult Bible study groups at the church and elsewhere. For her part, Little Miss Church Girl was a talented singer, a lead in the church choir, and on occasion directed the praise and worship service. Over time, Little Miss Church Girl’s mother’s exposure to other church denominations, combined with her own growing knowledge of the Bible, led her to believe that the tradition of her church was too much of a “bondage lifestyle” for her and her daughter. As Little Miss Church Girl entered high school, her mother gave her permission to take on such unholy adornments as denim jeans, earrings, and mascara when away from church. This started to bring Little Miss Church Girl out of her cloistered shell, but she often beat herself up about these violations of what a good girl was supposed to be as she remembered past sermons about looking and acting “holy.” Whether it was about what she wore or something she said, Little Miss Church Girl wallowed in self-condemnation. She meticulously analyzed every choice she made.
This is just so wrong, she’d accuse. I shouldn’t be this way. I’m supposed to be perfect. Right? …