I’m a Valley girl.
Yup, I admit it. I’ve spent the majority of my life in the Valley and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.
The Golden State has many valleys – the San Gabriel Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley, the Antelope Valley – but there is only one that is simply referred to as “The Valley.” This notoriety is thanks in large part to the 1983 movie “Valley Girl” – which propelled the San Fernando Valley and what came to be known as “Valley Vernacular” into national consciousness. Slang words and phrases like “rad” “totally dude” and “gag me with a spoon” were added to the vocabulary of teens virtually overnight. Top it off with the casual flip or twist of the hair, the rolling of the eyes, and the ability to place the word “like” randomly at two different, like, points in a like, sentence and you were a tried and true “Valley Girl.” I was a teenager at the time, and considering my parents were both English teachers, my new found lingo really did “gag them with a spoon.”
In geographic terms, the Valley is a large, urban section of Los Angeles surrounded by the Santa Monica, Santa Susana, and San Gabriel mountains. The area is densely populated with nearly 3 million people crammed into 260 square miles. Main streets like “Sherman Way” and “Balboa Boulevard” named after Valley land owners and famous explorers stretch from one end of the Valley to the other, making it fairly simple to navigate. In the 50’s, the Valley was a quiet haven for families looking to get away from “big city” living. Today, drive a mile in the Valley in any direction and you will most likely pass 2 skateboard shops, 5 liquor stores, 3 stray dogs, 42 palm trees, 2 community parks, 7 thrift shops, 2 high schools, and 11 Mexican restaurants. I find my days here to be relatively peaceful and uneventful, despite the fact that just a few miles away on the other side of the freeway, gang violence is a weekly occurrence. I attribute my safety to four factors: I live in a small neighborhood full of decent people, an ADT security sign is prominently displayed on my lawn, my killer Chihuahuas bark at anything within an 8 mile radius, and most importantly, God’s grace and protection sorrounds me daily.
Even though I am in my thirties and the “Valley Girl fad” occurred over twenty years ago, many people (mainly those from out of state) will snicker when they hear I am from the Valley and tease, “So can you talk like a Valley Girl?”
To which I usually repond, “Like, no dude.”
Realizing this is all they are going to get from me, they immediately launch into their own rendition of Valley talk. It’s funny to here a New Yorker try to talk like a Valley Girl – it’s sort of like Al Pacino on helium. While I am sure I add a few more “likes” than necessary to the average sentence, my days of “Radical dude!” are over.
Which leads me to wonder...
If people make assumptions about me based on where I live, what assumptions do they make about me when they find out I am a Christian?
Do they automatically assume I will be a loving person or do they wonder if I will judge them?
Do they picture me assisting widows and orphans in need as James 1:27 describes, or do they think of me as someone who’s generosity is directed only toward people or organizations who’s religious and political beliefs align with mine?
Do they say to themselves “Oh she’s a Christian? She must be kind.”
Or do they think, “Oh, she’s a Christian. She'll probably look down on me.”
Everyday, I pray that my actions and words reflect the love, compassion, and kindness of Jesus Christ because as a Christian, I represent Christ to “the Valley” and beyond. This is an awesome and humbling responsibility; one that this Valley Girl hopes she and other Christians never forget, like, ever.
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