Yesterday I wrote about how women need to fight for our men, whether they are our spouses, dads, brothers, uncles, neighbors, friends. Today, I’m taking the Y chromosome out of the picture and adding back in an X.
When I was twelve years old, my dad was away at school in another town and my mom was out getting groceries a few miles down a lonely, west Texas road. A storm was pushing across the plains (which was nothing abnormal for early summer in west Texas) as I kept my ears to the weather radio and my eyes on my little brother, I knew we needed to take shelter. A tornado was moving our way.
As my mom pulled into the driveway, the tornado was moments away. We escaped to safety with moments to spare, baseball-sized hailstones pounding at us as we ran.
The next morning, the San Angelo Standard Times featured our property on the front page of the paper. We lost most of the windows in our house, a decent sized storage building, my dad’s library, a considerable part of the roof, and the oddest casualty was the satellite dish.
Our yard was a perfect square with 3 rows of 3 trees each. The dish from our satellite was covering one tree and a across the yard, the pole was pulled out of the concrete, thrown several yards away, and wrapped like a twist tie around the tree.
I was twelve when that happened, and every week or so until I was almost 31 years old, I had nightmares where a tornado was coming and I had to save the people in my dream. Thankfully, with some counseling, the nightmares have stopped, but the message of I have to protect myself stayed with me (and still hangs around) for the rest of my life.
My heart shattered when I went through my divorce, and the walls around my heart doubled in size. There were only a couple of people – and even fewer men – I felt I could trust; that I felt had my best interest in mind.
What does protecting women look like? Do women even need it? Is that a husbands’ job? Or any man’s job?
First, for me, I took the verse Proverbs 4:23 as my shield: above all else guard your heart…
What I didn’t realize is that God was my ultimate protector. As I lived life with that in place, I found it easier to let men enter my life (in appropriate ways) who truly wanted to protect me: spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.
Once when we had a crazy snow storm in Nashville, my dear friend Brian drove me to a Starbucks. Brian is one of my closest friends. We both needed some hangout time and he knew there was no way in the world I’d be able to safely drive in the bad weather. He drove across town to get me, and we sat outside Starbucks in the cold, simply with each other. Even when I moved miles away, Brian was a safe person.
Women aren’t always the best at receiving protection and love from men. I sat in a classroom at Hope College last year and we were always one desk short. A guy and girl walked in at the same time, and the girl sat on the floor. The guy insisted she take the desk. She refused. The professor looked at him and said,
“I understand. It’s tough being a gentlemen these days.”
Because of the culture shift I wrote about yesterday, it’s hard for you guys to love us like sisters in Christ. But please, don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to show us you are watching out for us. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or single, if the girl is your wife or your mother. My brother bought my mom flowers randomly a few months ago. Why? Because there aren’t many girls in this world that don’t like getting flowers.
Show us that you’re trustworthy. Follow through with us. Keep your promises. Watch out for us in the physical realm by taking the side of the sidewalk closest to the road, getting the door for us. No, we aren’t helpless creatures, but at least in my experience, these tiny gestures help us open our hearts.
All this may sound old fashioned, and maybe that’s partially due to the fact that I’m wired in an old fashioned way. I thought I didn’t need a man (whether a husband or not) to make it in life, but in the last few years of opening my heart to the men who were stepping in and protecting it in a variety of ways, I realize just how much I did need their protection. Fatherly advice. Friendly support. And eventually, a husband, Tim, who protects me fiercely and graciously.
I really do believe if women take to heart how to believe the best about men (who sometimes feel like boys) and if men can take on the challenge of protecting women (who sometimes feel like they’re all alone), we can live holy, beautiful, generous lives enjoying who we are in Christ, male and female, brother and sister.