So the phrase “basic Becky” has made it into the mainstream these days. I’m not sure how I feel about this considering MY name is Becky and I’m not sure I want to be basic. Because I’m fairly certain it is NOT a compliment. I’ve never really had a problem with my name. It was a good name growing up. The only point of interest up until now is that Becky seems to notice big butts (circa 1992 Sir Mix A Lot, Baby Got Back), and there is a shrinking amount of girls actually named Becky. You don’t meet many little girls named Becky these days. The majority are around my age (must have been a popular name back in the early 70’s). So the only real concern here is that as I continue to age, the name Becky will as well, until it is only associated with old ladies. (Unless it makes a miraculous comeback). And truth be told, I’m not so sure that’s a real concern. If it is, then maybe I AM a basic Becky.
If you’re unfamiliar, the urban dictionary defines basic Becky as “a girl who tries so hard to be different, but in reality brings nothing to the table.”
So I ponder; I dig deep. And I ask the probing question:
am I a basic Becky?
I don’t think that I am, in the traditional sense of the idea, but maybe sometimes…
I’ve never thought I was particularly unique. I don’t say this to foster some sense of false humility. I mean I’m cool, for sure I’m cool. 🙂 And there are things that I can do. I know that I have gifts and talents that I bring to the table, but is it enough to not be basic? I mean am I really unique? You look around the world, you look around your neighborhood and you see people who have done and are doing amazing things; people who have overcome incredible odds to accomplish real stuff. There are people out there changing the world man. And it seems that so many of them have a “story.” There’s something unique; there’s something unlike anyone around them; there’s an experience that has given them “color.”
When I became a pastor, someone told me that I needed to be grittier; I needed to experience more hardship if I was going to be successful. It’s the idea that my life had not given me enough “color.” If I was to be truly empathetic, I needed more experience at the hard things. I found this odd because grit and hardship is not necessarily something you can just manufacture. I can’t just decide to experience hard things. It’s true I grew up pretty basic. No major traumas; no real heartbreak; no real loss. When I initially went off to college, it was to a small Christian school in the middle of a cornfield and my sheltered, happy existence continued. Life was good; no worries man. Twenty-eight years later and I have definitely experienced some hard things; I have witnessed hard things; but overall I feel I’ve survived this journey called life so far, with only minor cuts and bruises. Now part of this could be due in part to the fact that I am at times extremely oblivious. This can actually be a lifesaver at times because it saves you from being offended. It’s hard to be offended when you don’t realize you’re supposed to be offended. And please don’t misunderstand, I am no saint. I have held onto my share of grudges.
My point in this is that major things that can make you gritty just didn’t happen to me. This isn’t to say that things like alcohol, divorce, depression and illness have not touched those I love, but gritty is just not who I am. I am a middle-aged, heterosexual white woman….pretty basic.
And there was a time (and sometimes still) when I felt guilty about this. I either a) wait for the other shoe to drop; because the odds are against me so something really bad is bound to happen; or b) feel inadequate because I have not survived a great tragedy or experienced some phenomenon that will give me depth. And honestly, neither of these are good choices.
So this is what I’ve decided. I am pretty basic; not a terribly exciting life; no memoirs being written about me. But just because I cannot manufacture hardships to give me grit, doesn’t mean that I cannot experience hardships; because this world is full of hard things if I’m paying attention. And so my “basic-ness” doesn’t mean I can’t bring something to the table.
It’s so easy to live within the comfort of what we know; it’s easy to go through life with tunnel vision and believe all is well. It’s harder to open your eyes to the broken world around you and actually see. When your life is pretty basic, it is actually a more difficult hurdle to actually see; to pay attention. In the call to love our neighbor, we must train our eyes to see what is broken, what is in need of healing, what is in need of love. Because that is the way of Jesus.
I do not suffer from mental illness……but I must see my sister that does and love her well not as less than.
I do not suffer from addiction or physical illness (if you don’t count getting old!)…..but I must see my brother that does and empathize with his pain and chaos.
I am not divorced……but I must embrace and understand rather than shame my sister or brother that is.
I am not a person of color……but I must see my fellow human who is and recognize and fight against inequality that creates obstacles and pain simply because of skin color.
I am not gay….but I must accept and love my friend who is as valuable and whole and made in the image of God.
I am not in poverty……but I must care about those who are and desire to not only feed and clothe them, but recognize their worth and dignity.
Often times the journey of basic can place blinders on what we see. When we ourselves have not experienced the reality of who we deem an other, it’s easy to forgive ourselves for our lack of mercy, our lack of kindness, our lack compassion, our lack of seeing. So we have to push back. We have to see the inherent worth of someone simply because they are human. They are made in the image of God. And so we view them as such. Whether they are basic, whether they are gritty, whether they are full of life’s color; we view them as image-bearers. And we love well.