“God’s not dead, He’s surely alive! He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion.”
The other day I overheard an argument between two co-workers; one female, one male. The female co-worker was climbing a ladder to lift down heavy items. The male co-worker offered to help. She became offended, defensive and went on the attack.
Since I was standing right next to her, I challenged her. I asked “Are you a strong enough woman to let a man be a man?” Her reply was passionate, sincere, and rude. “Yeah. When I meet a man, I’ll let him be one.”
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head, so I hope you will indulge me as I put my thoughts down on paper.
“A lady is a lady as long as she acts like one.”*
Somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten lost. We’ve taken the “lady” out of the woman and asked her to take on the man’s role. Along with that role, women have mistakenly taken on behaviors as well.
“For 1900 years woman was not equal with man; she was superior…She had dignity; was revered, protected, and loved. To stand equal with man she had to step down from that position. It’s no wonder men no longer feel romantic towards women.
Poets have become immortal by remembering on paper a girl’s smile. I’ve never read a poem rhapsodizing over a girl’s giggles at a smutty joke. I’ve never heard a man brag that his sweetheart or his wife could drink just as much as he and become just as intoxicated. I’ve never heard a man say that a girl’s mouth was prettier with a cigarette hanging out of it, or that her hair smelled divinely of stale tobacco.” **
It seems to me that women have forgotten how powerful it is to be a woman. We reflect the character of God. His nature of nurturing, compassion, mercy, and creation are ours to display. Tenderness, gentleness, mercy; these are not qualities of weakness—they are a strength in and of themselves. The biblical definition of mercy is the image of a powerful warhorse that is being held in check.
Man displays God’s character traits of protector, provider, and warrior/champion of justice. To say a woman doesn’t need a man to complete her is true. But, she does need a man, just as a man needs a woman, to complete the image of God in her life. It does not mean she has to be married, or even dating someone, it simply means that she needs to recognize and value those character traits in the people around her.
Is it possible that those who are most offended by displays of chivalry are those who are least secure in themselves? Or, perhaps, those who have been wounded and put up walls against any act of common civility or good manners displayed by the opposite gender?
I am challenging you today. Are you a strong enough woman to let a man be a man? In any given situation can you respond graciously, politely, and with kindness? Can you encourage and reinforce those character traits that strengthen another’s sense of self and which benefit society in general?
That is not to say that you shouldn’t do what you are fully capable of doing. Nor is it saying that you should expect man to step into the role or habit of doing things for you. That is a dangerous type of manipulation as it has the potential of teaching you to accept the role of “damsel in distress”, or worse, a victim’s role.
So, how do we find balance? How do we know what to accept, or expect in being treated like a lady, and not like a weak, useless human being? By taking it one day at a time, one moment at a time. Examine the motives. Is he displaying archaic, chauvinistic behavior with sneering comments such as “she’s a female, she can’t do…” Or, is it simple good manners such as opening a door for someone, or an act of chivalry, such as offering to assist you with a heavy burden.
Using wise judgment– when there is a sincere (and in some cases a natural and automatic) attempt to assist you; you should be gracious enough to accept it.
It’s a beautiful circle; when you come to recognize aspects of God’s character in others (despite their gender), you will appreciate them more and your relationships will improve.
*quote from the 1940’s movie “The Canterville Ghost”
**quote from the movie “A Man Called Peter”—a biography of Peter Marshall, chaplain to the US Senate