42 pounds… That’s approximately what a 5 gallon bottle of water weighs. I had back surgery several years ago and I am 50 years old now, so I rarely fill our bottles for home because my sons and husband don’t really allow it. Yesterday, I was at the grocery store and I took a bottle to be refilled from home because I just wanted to have a spare at home and I didn’t want to bother any of the busy men in my family. Truth be told, I did it on the q.t. because I knew one of my men would object.
I finished my shopping and was basking in the glow of remembering to get a bag of ice when I pulled my car up to the curb near the water machine. Just as I grabbed my 5 gallon plastic bottle, a woman who was about 10-15 years older than me, pulled up behind my car. I had left my emergency flashers on and after getting the water going, I returned to my car to open the door so that I could put the soon to be very heavy bottle into the car somewhat smoothly. The water was taking forever… I went back to see how much progress it was making and then walked to the plants set out in front of the store and asked the store employee if they carried any organic plants. She told me she didn’t think so, I thanked her and then I saw another car pull up behind the car with the older woman. After almost 7 minutes my bottle was almost full when this man, who looked to be in his mid-30’s, jumped out of his car with his two water bottles and came right up behind me. I noticed that the woman was visibly upset and was trying to hurry with her two empty water bottles to the machine. My mind was racing… I could not believe that this man was going to cut right in front of this woman who was almost twice his age and more importantly, was there several minutes before him. He was well aware that she was waiting before he arrived.
I turned with my heavy, awkward water bottle, looked right at her and said, “You were next, weren’t you?” While the woman shrugged her shoulders apologetically and said not a word, this man stepped around me and shoved his bottle into the machine without any hesitation. I was beside myself. I walked to my car shrouded in disgust for the man who had done this as much as for the woman who refused to speak up for herself. My first thought was to protect her, in fact, I almost turned my car around to say something to this rude man, but life has introduced me to too many women who allow for this kind of behavior from the boys and men in our society and I was pretty sure, based on her reaction when I spoke up, that she believed that she was being kind or being some kind of peacemaker. I had this imaginary conversation with her where I shared with her that allowing this kind of behavior isn’t kind, but simply leads to self-centered, rude behavior toward others in the future and that is not beneficial to anyone.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, and I spoke to God about my frustration, I had this lovely thought run through my brain and heart…
My sons would NEVER do something like this. They probably would have offered to carry the lady’s bottles to her car for her. Their father has been a wonderful example and we have taught them since they were very small that being a gentleman is a requirement. When they were small and their grandma would tell them it was okay to not help her with her bags or anything heavy, my husband and I would tell her that we expected our boys to be gentlemen. It was hard for her to give in to this kind of child rearing, but she honored it and I believe she is very proud of the gentlemen her grandsons have become.
Now, before anyone gives me a hard time about feminism or any of that, I don’t believe that simple good manners will ever go out of style. I believe in women being independant, but I am also old-fashioned about men being gentlemen. I do many things for my husband and all of my children on a daily basis, as do they for me. Common courtesy and respect are requirements, at home and everywhere else.
I was reading this quote to Hannah and Maggie a few evenings ago:
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
when they started telling me that I needed to watch Frozen because it was about this very thing.
I think EVERY little girl needs to watch this movie OFTEN. All of us have talents, gifts that He intended for us to use and become what He sees in us. Let me preface this by first saying: Maybe lots of boys have experienced what I did as a young girl, and if this is true, please forgive my ignorance. In my journey I have only had other women share this common experience with me and this was unique to me, the only girl, in my family of origin.
When Elsa, as a young girl was unable to master her amazing gift and she hurt her sister, Ana, quite seriously with it, her father told her to, “Conceal it. Don’t feel it.” I was immediately reminded of being told very similar things as a child. I was not an idyllic little girl. I was opinionated, passionate and a bit of a tomboy. My father encouraged me and I could tell he felt very proud of me, even informing me that he thought I had moxie. I still smile when I remember him telling me that. My mother was not equally as thrilled with who I was. Typically I was told that “nice girls didn’t do…” (fill in the blank). I was also told to “stop being so emotional” on a very regular basis. I wasn’t easy to like. I remember numerous occasions when my mother would point out “nice” little girls who were quiet and sweet and who didn’t have mud on their dresses or scuffs on their Mary Janes. I was emotional and outspoken. My mother knew the correct things to say and do at all times. She was embarrassed by the things I said in front of people and I believe at times I said things just to get a reaction out of her. I think I wanted to punish her for how I felt about myself when I was around her.
I don’t think for a moment that my mother was trying to be mean to me or make me feel as if she didn’t love me for who I was. I believe with everything in me that she was trying to help me fit in. She wanted my life to be easier and she understood that women get along better in this world if they are quiet, sweet and agreeable. Being clean and not disheveled helps, also…
The thing is, is that is not who He made me to be. He made me passionate, outspoken, emotional and … nice. I also understand that with all of our gifts come responsibility. I am learning to be more sensitive to other’s opinions. Just because I believe in something, does not mean that it is a fact and even if it is a fact, it doesn’t mean that others want to accept it or even deal with it. I wish I could go back and have a do-over with all that I understand now. I wish instead of being ashamed of who I was and feeling resentful of how my mother dealt with me and believing that she didn’t love me, I could have embraced me for who I was/am and I could have understood that my mother was trying to help me in the best way she knew how because she didn’t understand me.
The irony to me as I grew up and became a believer is that I was treated much the same way in the churches that I first attended. In my experience the church tends to expect women to be seen but not heard and we can support our husbands, but we shouldn’t expect to be in any real place of leadership. I’ve watched too many women who clearly love our Father and live to serve Him be made ashamed of their talents, their callings, even. What are we so afraid of? I often wonder if we committed to helping our daughters, our girl friends, our mothers, and every other woman hone their gifts and passions instead of making them feel as if they should “conceal and not feel” how much more would be accomplished for His glory?
I love my own children, but I know at times I have wondered why they couldn’t just … (fill in the blank), because life would be much easier then. I fully embrace who each of them is. None of them is on a similar path, but all of them are in much better places than I was at their ages. They accept themselves and we all celebrate who God made them to be – most of the time…
I think we walk a fine line in childrearing. My goal was to love my children unconditionally, instill old fashioned values like respect, hard work, and kindness while encouraging them to be who God intended. My children don’t fit into “the box” and that has been painful at times. I admit that I’ve tried to squeeze them in there now and again when I felt unsure of their choices. It has brought about nothing but heartache for all involved and in my experience it has caused my children to go two steps back before they went forward again. I’ve had many humbing moments asking my children to forgive me and to allow me to support them in the way they needed me to. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’ll have more of these moments. I know that I will get better at this and I know my children will do even better with my grandbabies because of the transparent relationship we have with each other and because they are seeing the fruit of living in His will and not in fear.
When I think of what amazing things could happen if we could all embrace each other in unconditional love, it makes me teary. In raising my children I’ve seen that when I show them this kind of love and support, they are open to my advice because they trust my wisdom based on my experience in life. When I talk at them, even though I am speaking from life experience and love, they don’t feel respected and they know I don’t trust their hearts or their decisions. They know I am also speaking from a place of fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I think one of my favorite things about Frozen is that the act of true love comes from a sister and not another Prince Charming guy. Ana loves her sister, Elsa, without condition. She adores her gift and encourages her use of it. When Elsa leaves her kingdom and begins to hone her gifts, beauty is created all around her. Although there is still ice everywhere and people are suffering because of it, so it is obvious that things are still not as they should be. Almost everyone has turned against Elsa and thinks she is evil. She is just beginning to embrace who God made her to be, but she hasn’t come to terms with the pain she has caused or the pain and shame her parents caused her. When Ana puts herself in death’s path for her sister, everything begins to melt and become new. With Ana’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance, Elsa’s heart begins to thaw, she embraces who she is, and her gifts bless everyone in the kingdom.
I think that’s what He wants us to understand. If we love each other, accept each other and extend grace, then He’s got the rest. We don’t have to be afraid of ourselves. We don’t have to be afraid of each other. We don’t have to wonder if He made a mistake in giving us this passion for that thing that causes us to move out of our comfort zone surrounded by walls built on the fear that the world has instilled in us. I just can’t even imagine what kinds of awesomeness would happen and multiply if we all lived with abandon when it came to our own passions and to loving one another, passions and all. I long for this. I ache for this…
I pray He gives me the courage and clarity to live like this…