Approaching Grace in Red High Heels
Chop, chop, chop.
I sliced the green peppers in slim lines, then cut them crossways and pushed the pieces into a little pile on the cutting board. I moved to the cherry tomatoes, and then the carrots, then the romaine. My Kitchen Aid whirred loudly, beating a batch of pumpkin bread, and I could smell the banana bread as it rose in the oven.
“I still need to do the laundry, vacuum the bathroom, and wash the dishes…” I muttered to myself, because not talking simply isn’t an option, even when there’s no one around.
As I moved around the kitchen I thought about the last week. I’d done all these things before. I do them every week, some of them every day. I get up at 5 AM most days, make breakfast for myself and Mr. M, and do devotions until 5:45. Then we head to the gym until 7 AM, when I shower and head to work by 7:45. Then it’s phone calls, Excel sheets, deposit bags, meetings and tour times until 5 PM, when I battle traffic back to the apartment and make dinner, pack the gym bag, and chop peppers for the next day’s salads and lunches once again.
We read the words mommy bloggers who go through this with their little ones: the diapers, baths, and bottles; the “Why?” and “When?” and “I’m hungry!”s of the day after day. But we have those, too: the needy infants of our own in-between lives. To-do lists with menial tasks we do again and again.
I recently took a personality test, just for giggles. The result stated my type was ‘The Executive':
“The ENTJ has many gifts which make it possible for them to have a great deal of personal power, if they don’t forget to remain balanced in their lives. They are assertive, innovative, long-range thinkers with an excellent ability to translate theories and possibilities into solid plans of action.”
The results went on to state that people of this personality may “have a problem with being constantly absent from home, physically or mentally” due to their intense focus on achievements and goals.
As I read that paragraph, I thought of myself chopping peppers in the kitchen. My mind is never on those peppers. So menial. So pointless. Yet so necessary.
“So,” My acquaintance leaned in eagerly. “Have you kissed him yet?”
I adjusted my feet and cleared my throat. “Um, no. We’re not… doing that right now. We’re saving our first kiss for our wedding day.” It came out through gritted teeth. I didn’t want to say it. Not because I was embarrassed of it – I wasn’t. I just knew what the reaction would be.
I could see the visions passing before her eyes as her countenance changed in front of me. I knew what she was picturing: ankle length skirts, long sleeved wedding dresses, some ‘Virgin Diaries’ awkwardness that was so not me. I wanted to say, “I’m waiting BUT I’m not who you think I am!”
My husband (‘Mr. M’) and I waited until our wedding day to kiss each other. Even among Christians there was a reaction of ‘I could never!’ or ‘Why would you do that?’ that was at best uncomfortable, and at worst, demeaning. The simple statement, “We’re waiting” seemed to throw us into a stereotype that I wasn’t happy to be pigeonholed within.
I chose to save my kiss for my wedding day when I was 18. But I didn’t do it because Josh Harris said so, my parents said so, or my church said so. In fact, I didn’t even choose it for spiritual reasons, at first: I simply wanted my first kiss to be as special as possible, and my wedding day seemed to fit that bill. Once I started dating, I realized my threshold for physical temptation was very low, so reserving my kiss allowed me to check my desires but also to test the motives of men who asked me out. If a man wasn’t interested in dating me after I said I wasn’t ready to kiss him, I knew he didn’t appreciate me for the right reasons, and moved on.
By the time I met my husband, however, I had been through a relationship where I’d been pressured to give of myself physically to ‘keep’ the guy I was dating. When Mr. M and I started going out, we had both kissed other people. Our relationship was a new beginning, and though we struggled at times, failed in many ways, and stumbled back to the throne of grace, our first kiss was on our wedding day – and we’re really happy it was.
We are a normal couple. We work full time jobs, wear normal clothes, have great friends, and live blessed lives. We’re not Doomsday Preppers, Quiverfull homeschoolers, or any extremist division of Christianity. But we believe that Grace necessitates a holy reaction, and saving our kiss was our way of trying to keep holiness at the center of our relationship.
Due to a corporate remodel fund, our office is getting a facelift – and the process is taking several weeks. Having just about grown up on a job site while working with my dad, the sound of saws and hammers is not foreign to my ear, though it seems misplaced when it’s happening right by my desk. The plastic dust shield between me and the construction crew is hardly soundproof. The workmen, however, don’t seem to comprehend that fact.
In the course of a recent day I heard thirteen hiccups, eight moans, nine whines, and at least thirty-one belches. Not that I was counting. By the time the twenty-eighth burp bounced off my monitor, I’d given up on the male portion of society. My head dropped to the keyboard in despair, leaving a sizeable QWERTY imprint on my forehead. Is this what I have to choose from – Sheik Ilderim and his posse of ill-mannered compadres?
This is a national epidemic, girls, not at all specific to my Northern-Michigan locale. During my stay in Virginia, I witnessed a similarly appalling spectacle in the college cafeteria. Two freshmen lovebirds huddled at a table across from me and my roommate: the girl, a dark-haired little twig, and the guy, a grungy, hoodie-swamped specimen sprawled across the table spilling into his girlfriend’s arms. She was splitting time between hugging his head (for a limit of three seconds; this IS a Christian college) and picking at some unidentifiable object hidden in his greasy locks. But that was her man: drowning in his clothes, in need of a shower, and about as socially astute as a chimpanzee.
Love is not a science, but if it were, I’d have a degree in Relationship Logistics. Do you ever wonder what inspires a girl to settle for a man of such mettle? I’ve come up with a feasible theory for the workings of the female mind; a mentality that inspires a girl to make decisions far different from what her nearest and dearest would hope. It’s the mentality of settlement: this is as good as it’s gonna get.
You see my pictures where I look happy, laughing-happy. Happy because I’m married and have a cool job, because I go on business trips and girls’ weekends. Because I drink coffee and blog, because my hair looks good in that picture and I probably don’t have a care in the world.
I look happy to you, like I don’t worry, don’t stress, like I woke up this way. Like my apartment is perfect, my clothes and husband and life are perfect. And yours isn’t.
In a world where we all ‘follow’ each other – a discipleship of image and best-face-forward – you look at me and think less of yourself. Or you look at me and think more of yourself.
Just like I look at others and do the same.
Dear girl, I’m just like you.
I’m the woman at the gas station in the scuffed heels. I’m the girl answering the phone with annoyance in her voice. I’m the one with the fighting heart and the too-strong tongue that stings sometimes, even when I don’t mean it.
Based on Mark 5:1-20.
With a slow turn of the bow, the boat leveled in the water, not far from the shore. Peter secured the anchor and jumped in the water, waist deep. He glanced at the sea: a deep, Galilean blue. You would never guess there was a storm last night.
The other disciples waded ashore as Peter tossed the goods on the ground. The landscape was rocky, even desolate. Peter looked up at the mountains, rippling downward to the eastern shore of the sea. The morning sun cast shadows through the ridges.
Peace was torn by a ear-piercing scream.
Racing over rocks, undaunted by the bloody scars they caused on his feet, a creature bounded toward the disciples. Dishevelment flew behind him in a mass of matted hair. He snarled and hissed and spat, barreling toward the Master, who had just stepped ashore. If the creature were not completely naked, Peter wouldn’t have known it was man.
Throwing himself before the Master, the creature slammed a rock into the ground, growling as he ground it in his hands. Peter noticed shackles on his wrists and ankles – but the chains had been broken. A few links hung like charms, clanking against the rocks.
Jesus was unmoved by the man’s writhing screech. “Come out of him.”
“WHAT have YOU to do with me, Jessusss, the Mosst High God?” The man writhed on his knees in the level gaze of the Master. “I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
I was clicking through some of my referral links – the ones that send people to my page – and one pingback took me to a girl’s blog where she expressed her distaste for my post, “The 5 Myths of Modesty”. But her dislike for my stance wasn’t limited to the belief that women can wear whatever they like, regardless of responsibility or consequences: rather, Hannah expressed: “I just want to speak about my opinion of this dangerous, “submissive-attitude”.”
Submission: is it dangerous, like Hannah claims? I addressed this issue as it relates to modesty in my post, That Day My Husband Told Me What to Do. Subsequently, I did some research in both secular and Christian sources to evaluate both worldviews.
I’m bothered by both the Christian and feminist approach to this issue. For the Christians, it is imperative in this culture to know more than the face value of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3. Submission does not mean in this culture what it meant in Paul’s. And for the feminists – until you also understand what is meant by the Christian stance on marriage and submission, your arguments against it will be fallacious and flawed.
So we’re going on a submission safari. I don’t think it means what you think it means.