It's not one of my favorite words, mostly because it's always used in a critical, corrective context by someone who thinks they know what's best for you. The word is: unbecoming.
You've heard it, I'm sure. If you are a young woman (or an old woman), you probably heard this a lot growing up. Maybe not in the younger generations, but at least my age and older, certain things were "unbecoming of a lady." Which matters a whole lot when you're six years old and becoming or unbecoming a lady are the furthest things on your mind. Sometimes, the high standards get dropped and things just become unbecoming of you, whatever you happen to be. Or whatever someone thinks you so happen to be. It's a lot less pressure than being a lady, but I still don't like it.
At least, I didn't.
I resented being told that things were unbecoming of me. The word just sounds so biting, so prim and proper, so stick-up-the-hind-end, like we should all be so worried about the kinds of things ladies do and don't do, about the images people project and don't project. About who you should be and shouldn't be. About who you could be and couldn't be.
Forget what you want to be. And whether or not the person who thinks it's unbecoming of you has any earthly idea what is becoming of you.
Did you realize that becoming is the counterpart? Did you realize that whatever is unbecoming of you is the opposite of what is becoming of you? It never occurred to me until the other night in the midst of an exhausted, extended prayer.
Now, my opinion of the word is changing. A little.
I love the idea that someone would look at my life and figure out what's becoming of me. I love that they would take the time to realize that something I did or said or whatever was un-becoming of me, that it was undoing the work of my becoming. That it was a hindrance to my development, my growth, my maturity. I love that they would be willing to mention it to me, as biting as the word might so often seem. That they would call me to a higher standard and refuse to let me cave into unbecoming...when there is so much that I am becoming.
There is, of course, a fine line here. It is dangerous to assume you know what someone is becoming, what they should be, what they ought to be. Not every little girl grows up to be a lady; not every little boy becomes a gentleman. Of all of the things people thought I could or should or ought to be in my life, I can think of less than a handful that I also wanted to be....and less than that that I truly should have been.
I am designed to be only one thing - God's precious daughter. That entails a lot of things. Discipline, devotion, service, love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, worship, createdness, giftedness, calling, integrity. The list goes on and on. But at its heart, it boils down to this: I am His daughter. It was all I was created to be. And you know what?
I hope someone tells me when I'm unbecoming of that.
I hope someone tells me when I stray and start undoing the good work He's doing in me. I hope someone tells me when I'm being an idiot, when I'm being a jerk, when I'm being ungrateful, when I'm being unfocused. I hope someone tells me when I'm focused more on what I think I want to be than the only thing I've ever been called as, and I hope they tell me in that moment how unbecoming it is of me to do so when my heart and my life should reflect my becoming God's precious daughter. I hope they're a little biting about it. Honest words can hurt. But I hope someone tells me.
Because that's what I'm about - I am, everyday, becoming God's daughter. Learning to live as His beloved child. Learning to embrace all that this entails. Trying to figure it all out while becoming something. I love the accountability that someone would hold me to that.
But just that. Nothing more and nothing less. Because there are a lot of things over the years that people thought I should or shouldn't be, that I could or couldn't be, that I wanted or didn't want to be, and for the most part, we've all been wrong.
I was never going to be a lady.