I recently had a conversation with Trace that sparked some interesting thoughts. While eating at a local Memphis restaurant, in walked a crowd of girls all wearing low cut belly shirts and short skirts. "And THAT's why I don't want to have a daughter one day," Trace said under his breath. "Why?" I asked. "Because I don't want her to dress like that and have guys staring at her. They'll expect that they can get something from her because of how she's dressed."
I thought for a minute and I came to two conclusions. One: I would hope that if we had a daughter, she would want to dress modestly because she knows that some men can be pigs (only some of them), and doesn't want to be subjected to that. Two: I hope that if we have a son, that we can raise him to respect women enough to not itemize them.
Then I realized the undertones of these two thoughts. Traditionally in Christian homes when it comes to raising our boys, we tell them to respect and protect women. When it comes to raising our girls on the other hand, we tell them to respect and protect themselves. This way of thinking is practical in some cases, as there are men out there who will take advantage. Don't get me wrong, I fully want my daughter to respect herself and also to be aware of her surroundings. In other ways, though, it is telling our girls that their role in society is to helpless. They are prey to men who don't see women as anything else but an object.
Although in Christian homes we tell our boys to treat women with respect, our girls are the ones who get a slap on the wrist if they wear clothes that are more than four inches above the knee. If they choose to wear daisy dukes and a guy objectifies them, well they had it coming. What? No. All I'm asking for is some consistency here. I have gotten pulled aside in church a few times growing up for dressing immodestly. But if the guys around here can't control themselves around a girl in Nike shorts and a t-shirt, the problem is them- not me.
The truth is that we live in a society that is saturated in sex. Movies, magazines, advertisements. This way of living gives a very unreal expectation that every woman who dresses a certain way is sleazy. In some cases this might be true, and I don't want to be naive in saying that some women aren't seeking attention from men. What I'm really trying to get at is that I don't think it is okay for men, or any one else for that matter, to assume that those women are seeking attention.
So there has to be a line drawn. Don't think that this totally discredits everything that I've said leading up to this point- bear with me. As I said before, I got a talking to on numerous occasions about wearing shorts that were "too short", but I never felt like I was being immodest or being disrespectful to myself during those times. So I honestly don't know where to draw the line if Trace and I ever have a daughter. I know that I don't want her to be naive about the world, but I also don't think it is okay to dismiss the responsibility that men have to respect their sisters in Christ.
Any comments or anecdotes to this problem? Let me know. These were just some of the ramblings of the conversation Trace and I had. Open to anything.
Thursday was Soma's annual fundraising dinner. I expected this year's dinner to be the same as the previous years that I attended. But as I was sitting in my chair in one of the back tables I was struck with just how different this one was. In prior years I was just getting into the ministry and most of the people who were awarded I either didn't know personally or I didn't know at all. The cool thing about this year's dinner was that two of my favorite people were acknowledged for their accomplishments in Soma!
My best friend Rachel Smith spoke on her spiritual growth since coming to Soma. This was one of my favorite parts of the night, as was most people's because her speech was hilarious. She spoke on her spiritual development over her three years at Soma. It hit me how much she, and all of us, had indeed changed since we got here our freshman year.
When I first met Rachel we were at a welcome week activity that Soma put on. It was a slip-n-slide and I thought it was really weird that she came and didn't want to get wet. Haha. We stayed at Soma that night until midnight laughing and watching youtube videos- Rachel's favorite pass time.
Fast forward a full school year. I went with Soma on the trip to Japan and Rachel helped practically lead it. I saw her confidence in Japanese grow that year and the next year as she helped translate between our team and the people there.
Pretty much ever since Japan Rachel and I have been really close. During that time Rachel has shown me what it means to be loyal, joyous, and humble. And the biggest change I have seen in Rachel is her relationship with God. She used to shy away from conversations about church or God. Now she's one of the people I feel the most comfortable talking with about those things because I know I can come to her with stupid questions about God and we can just think through it. I love my best friend.
Trace also got an award that night! I'm going to take a minute to brag on my husband. His transformation has been pretty awesome as well. His award was for the student who showed the most spiritual growth this year. When Trace first came to Soma not many people knew it but he was going through a rough patch. I've already shared our story on here before so I won't go into all those details, but since he has come to know God as father and lives accordingly. Trace says that he isn't learned enough in the bible to teach other people as well as he would like, but the more I watch the way he lives his life I know that he has more influence than he knows. Sometimes he lacks confidence, but he is learning how to find his identity in God. When I start to lose my vision, he encourages me to take it to the Lord. He's pretty cool.
Soma has taken each of us and molded us into honest God followers. I honestly don't know where I would be right now if it hadn't been for this place.