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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)

TITLE: It's All Relative
By Debi Derrick


It pretty much happens in every family – at least that’s what Dr. Phil says. Everybody takes on a role. In my family, big sister was the good kid. Incredibly good. Incredibly conscientious. Middle brother could do anything he wanted. He was, after all, a male child of the 50s. That left me. The baby girl. I took the bad kid role.

Don’t take that too seriously. Remember, it’s all relative. Actually, I was a compliant child who liked to please people, too. I was also a concrete thinker who needed good, clear direction. The truth is, I was the NORMAL kid. They just didn’t know it at the time. For example, when my sister, who was 10 years older than me, had her first date, mom didn’t give her a curfew. “Please the Lord and you’ll please me,” she said. I don’t know what time Sis came home, but my guess is the sun hadn’t even gone down by the time she was walking in the front door.

My first date? “Please the Lord and you’ll please me,” Mom said. It worked so well the first time, I’m sure she thought she had the winning game plan. I never did know how the Lord felt about things that night. Mom was so hopping mad when I came in at 2 a.m., she decided to take matters out of the Lord’s hands and told me in no uncertain terms that from now on, she was the one I needed to please.

My list of badness could go on. Only today, I’d call it my list of “surprises” for a down-home country-grown family where everybody did what they were supposed to do when the folks in charge thought they should do it. Mother told my sister when she needed to start shaving her legs. I told mother after I did it. I was two years younger than Sis was upon this momentous occasion. I went for the make-up and hair color and – child of the 60s that I was – hand-embroidered blue jeans and John Lennon sunglasses.

This caught the attention of my mother’s hard-working sister who lived a state away and, like my folks, found the 60s to be pretty tough on their depression-raised, world war-fighting, stable generation. She once commented to a friend how she hoped my brother, when it came time to settle down, would find someone who was like his sister. “His older sister, that is.” she leaned in and added with a sideways glance.

While this disappointed me, I wasn’t really hurt. She didn’t know me. And, things being relative, I may have been a wild child to her, but was purely a pansy compared to the teens I grew up with – especially the one who once ribbed me a little about how I could pray before a test and score a 100. (Hey – I studied!)

Then something happened that only God could engineer. I traveled with my folks to visit my aunt for a few days. The first morning, I was up and dressed while they others were still in their bathrobes, visiting and laughing and enjoying their coffee and eggs and bacon long after the early morning mist was lifting from the woods around the house.

After they finally disappeared into one bathroom or the other, I did something I genuinely enjoyed doing. I started putting away food and clearing off the table and washing and drying the dishes. All the while, I was singing the worship songs and choruses that I so loved from church.

I’ll never forget the look on my aunt’s face when she came out of her bathroom next to the kitchen. It was as though she saw me for the first time. She seemed to be downright shocked! Neither of us said anything. But for the rest of the visit, I came out ready for the day every morning and cleaned up while they showered and dressed. And I sang. And I prayed. And I enjoyed every moment.

I learned a couple of things from that experience. First, I learned what the Lord meant when He said He didn’t see people from the outside – he saw their hearts (I Sam. 16:7). I also learned what Paul meant when he told Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example…in love…” (I Timothy 5).

Love. Now that can turn a bad kid good every time!

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Member Comments
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Beth LaBuff 05/17/09
I had to smile at your comment, "It's all relative" (nice play on words with that). :) I LOVE the transformation you describe in your MC! I really enjoyed your writing!