Something that has been on my heart for some time now is "ladylike behavior". I have to confess that is something that I have never really understood. On so many levels the roles of women have become a confused and muddled mess of stereotypical nonsense that no one could ever (or should ever) conform to. If you stop for a minute and think about what today's society expects from us women it will just make your head ache. Women have traded what the Lord intended for them for a fairy tale. They have bought into the lie that they should behave as men, work as men do, and live up to the same standards as men do and even operate in the same realms of authority that men do, all while still trying to be women....no wonder women are so confused about what it means to be a woman. I wish I had words to describe what those mixed up messages and society induced gender confusion have done to me in my own life but I don't .....maybe after some more time to heal and get it right I will but right now I'm busy trying to correct all that I have learned so incorrectly and in turn taught to my daughter incorrectly.
One thing that has really stood out to me the last few weeks is how much of a difference it has made in my own life to be "treated like a lady". I have always before now been taught to "take it like a man"....my daddy would say that to me so often when I was a child or tell me to "tough it out" or something like that. Daddy would frequently play more roughly with me than he did my brother so I would learn to be tough. I was never discouraged from rowdying with the boys and if I complained that a boy had hurt me my daddy's response was that I should go and fight until I gained victory physically or the end result would be not only the physical suffering from a lost battle but punishment by daddy for being weak.
Needless to say I learned to be extremely "tough".....physical challenges were soon something that I relished in and became very dominant in. I learned to play all of the "boys" sports and most often outplayed and outlasted the boys in them all.....I could play football with the best of them and wrestling was a cinch for me, I made school records in track and won trophies and medals on the softball team. I could fist fight with the best of them and at later ages knives and other weapons got thrown into the mix... I learned to squish any feelings of sympathy or such 'girly' stuff and fight ruthlessly, more ruthlessly than the boys.
When I reached junior high school I was furious to find out that girls simply were not allowed on the wrestling team or the football team and seemed to only hold value wearing skimpy skirts and jumping about to cheer on the boys....the very same boys I had been taught to best from my youngest memories. Of course I rebelled!!!! Of course I looked for every way that I could to continue to do what I had been taught to do best! So I got kicked out of school frequently for fist fighting in the hallways, or smoking in the parking lot, or bullying someone who teased me for being a 'girl'. I got into trouble with the law for fighting before I was even 13!! I fought my way into fellowship with boys and young men, I learned to work on cars and do construction work, I learned to drink more and fight harder than men twice my size....daddy's words of 'take it like a man' still rang through my mind. I had never been treated like a lady should be so I learned that I only had value in competition with men.
When I got saved way back in 1994 I was attending an extremely liberal church in a farming community and there was still very little value in being a woman unless you were a woman who cooked a lot and could still pull more than your share of work on a farm....so that's what I learned to be as a young christian woman. Now that we are in a church that is shamelessly preaching the truth I am learning that there is so much more to being a godly woman that I had ever thought there could be. It's scary really, to think that there are so many things that I should know and be able to teach my daughter that I just have no clue about! When we first came here and people (men) called me Mrs and waited for me to go before them in a line and were courteous to me it just shocked me silly....to be honest it still catches me off guard sometimes. Until now I had always thought that a man holding a door open for me was an insult....now I know that it is one of the sweetest expressions of honor that I have ever seen and it tickles me to pieces to see my sons opening car doors for my daughter as they mimic their daddy opening mine. Something else that has come from me being treated like a lady is a really strong desire that just wells up from deep inside of me to be more of a lady for my man. It has taken me completely by surprise to catch myself asking him to carry things that I know full well I can pick up and tote across the room all by myself.....but he gets this really proud look on his face and just beams every time he carries something for me. I never realized how much our men need for us to need them!
I am finding myself really focusing on teaching my sons how to treat women and girls and why it is so important that they know how to be gentlemen. It will break my heart if I ever think that they were even a tiny part responsible for causing a young girl to behave in a way that dishonors her for the sake of 'self defense' or because she felt that she had to keep up with the boys. I was so touched to see my boy in tears over the way other boys were treating one of the young ladies at church....not that he is any better than the other boys, just that my teaching has been taking hold even before I was aware that I had taught it.
I'm so happy to be learning more of what the Lord would have of me as a woman and to know that I don't have to act like a man to earn respect. I am finally learning to enjoy being a woman for the first time in my life I don't find myself saying "I hate being a girl". I am finding such joy and peace in being a "lady"....don't laugh, I'm much more of a lady now than anyone who has known me very long would ever have thought that I could be. I'm enjoying being a woman who can work hard when my husband needs me to be his help but can still be that soft hearted WOMAN without fear of being criticized or compromised. I'll be right there by Troy's side from the house to the woods and back again but in my proper role as his help meet. It's so wonderful that our Lord can restore anything to anyone no matter how late in life you come to Him willing to be changed!