I grew up in a culture that only proved one thing: Women are objects. Blessedly, I got a reprieve from that image and belief system any time I walked into my church… But those mixed messages got confusing. While working in retail, I would get suggestive “proposals” all the time. I learned quickly I existed for “harmless” conversations and a man’s desire to live dangerously without getting caught. Anytime I tried defending my value, my job got threatened.
When I bemoaned the harshness of my world to a fellow Christian, he cried harder than I did. We had both been subjected to perspectives of our value no young adult ever should. My friend quite simply squeezed my hand and muttered, “I’m so, so sorry, Cass. Men are… Well, you know.”
Trying desperately to get control of my heart, I asked cryptically, “Why don’t men step up for women anymore? Why is it so easy for value to fall between the cracks? What have I done wrong?”
In a moment of bravery, he replied, “Any time people like me try to stand up for you, you claim independence, act offended and throw my God-given right to protect you to the wind. I may have fallen short, Cass, but your unwillingness to challenge me to do better confuses me as a man of God. I’ll always love you, but I think you’ve completely misunderstood what mutual love between a brother and sister in Christ is supposed to look like.”
I’ve never forgotten that conversation. Currently, this friend and I see each other once a year and maybe talk every couple months. But he struck a cord in my heart that scared me into action. I may be a woman who can stand on her own, but somehow my, “daggum, I can do it myself” attitude spiritually confused and hurt the men in my life more than I ever thought possible.
Men are divinely created to protect, serve and provide. When we as women push that piece of the puzzle to the side in order to prove our independence, life gets sticky for the men we interact with. God tells them to do very specific things. We often times make it impossible for them to do it.
In the last three years especially, I’ve had to learn that allowing myself to be served (when appropriate) is not a sign of weakness. Rather it is a sign of strength that I am confident in my role as a woman and able to put aside my need to prove myself in order to bless my brothers in Christ.
It’s funny, though. Initially, I felt like I was being the “bigger person” by letting guys do the little things like open doors, help me with my coat, or even protect me in weird social situations. Kind of like a, “Here Kiddo, you need something to do” way. But after awhile, I saw my relationships with the men in my life take on a deeper mutual level of friendship and respect.
Like it or not, Christian or not, women were made for men; men were not made for women. The moment we as women come to terms with that Divine plan, and learn how to be secure in our identity as the helpmeet of men (not necessarily the main attraction), the more valuable our roles in society can be.
It’s not about equality. It’s about seeing God’s hand in both gender roles and loving unconditionally because we need each other.