Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nothing in Between

“O, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace!
…But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.”

–Beatrice,
Much Ado About Nothing

I’ve heard rumors over the years that I’m an intimidating girl for nice Christian guys to ask out. Naturally, I think this is hilarious, but now and then wonder secretly if I’m doing something wrong. One of my comforts is that Beatrice was intimidating, too.

I wish I could carry through that intimidation to the creeps who cross my path every once in a while, too. A few weeks ago, I came out of the grocery store to my car. I had just come from work and was wearing office clothes. As I put the grocery bag in the back seat, I became suddenly aware of a low voice speaking from the passenger window of the car next to me, a monologue in an undertone that I couldn’t quite catch except for a few filthy words. I turned to see who was speaking, and he abruptly looked away until I turned back to my car, then carried on the monologue and the stare as I got into the car and drove away. Ugh. A few days ago I was walking up from my office, in a busy downtown district, to meet my friend Eliot at a coffee shop, and got chatted up while waiting for crosswalks by TWO different men of obviously less-than-stellar character and implication. Again, I do a mental self-check of my clothing and note that jeans, a long shirt, and a loose jacket are not asking for any attention in that regard. The summer camp director in me even agrees that I could “praise the Lord” (raise my hands above my head) or say “oops, I dropped my lanyard” (reach to pick something up from the floor), with no untoward consequences.

Whenever it happens, I feel vulnerable, unprotected. But even worse is when the same attitude comes from someone who is not a stranger.

When “nice Christian guys” display some thought, look, word or action that reveals the real injustice of their hearts toward a woman (or women in general), it triggers such a spark of rage in me that Beatrice’s cry rings in my ears. I have spent a lot of time listening to many of my girl friends over the years. Since relationships are usually a fair amount *please read irony into that* of what all girls struggle with, I’ve heard stories that grieve me, stories of hurts inflicted by men in their lives, some outright abusive and most just somewhere on the scale of bumbling to self-centered. It happens oftener than you might think, and often enough that I find myself terribly discouraged some days at the long years that, on bad days, seem to stretch on ahead…alone, because I refuse to settle for “nice”, (a word which here means, a veneer of politeness covering a heart guided by lust, bitterness, shame, fear-driven decision making, laziness and self-focus.)

I do sound intimidating, don’t I?

I'm intimidated by it myself. I face (and almost daily fail) the same challenges every day, too. It's a battle to not live a false or double life in any sense. To keep my heart and mind steeped in the Word. To live a quiet life. To rejoice and to grieve with my friends. To cultivate my thought life and my time, to pull the weeds and encourage the fruit-bearing plants with food, water, and sunlight. To be willing to say no. To be willing to say yes.

To be willing to settle for nothing in between.

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