Tonight, I found my voice.
While I shopped for groceries at Walmart, the sun went to bed painting the sky dusky navy blue. I exited the wrong doors, forgetting where I parked my van. It was in the pause, while I mentally mapped the parking lot that he spied my vulnerability. Like a vulture, His motorized cart swooped in, his gaze locked on the prey.
“Ma’am, “ he spoke invitationally, slightly pathetically, a well-rehearsed mantra.
I glanced over my shoulder at him, and that “Mother Bear” instinct, it surprisingly emerged to protect me.
“NO”, I literally yelled adding a hand gesture indicating that he better not move any closer into my space.
Suddenly he shed the victim card and angrily grunted back, “F_ _ _ you, lady” as he spit my direction and turned his cart around to scope out the next easy target.
The adrenalin surge that accompanied that one word, carried me confidently to my vehicle but when I positioned myself behind the wheel and reached for the door lock button, I found my hand slightly trembling.
Psychology explains the brain’s design to respond to danger this way: On a subconscious level, our amygdala sends alarm messages to all of our powerhouse hormones even before our rational mind can react to the perceived threat. This triggers automatic bodily responses we call Fight, Flight or Freeze.
My body’s default position typically re-sets on Freeze. Even after self-defense classes and carrying pepper spray on my key chain, fear turns me into a mute pillar of stone.
Except for tonight– when I found my voice.
Tonight, I boldly reject making excuses for the ill-treatment of women.
I reject justifying predatory behaviors.
I repudiate the way we do somersaults to upend the roles of victim and predator.
It’s not OK to intentionally pretend you can’t walk or you have a disability to make yourself appear vulnerable to a stranger. That’s deceitful.
It’s not OK to threaten a driver’s sense of safety by hovering in close to their window, staring at them while they wait at a stop light. That’s intimidation.
It’s not OK to target women at night or in vulnerable locations to beg for money. That’s menacing.
And the panhandlers, those guys only make up a miniscule proportion of the population of males who exploit females.
There are also the guys who drug girls drinks to make folly with their bodies.
And the neighbor, friend, co-worker, or relative who’s distorted sense of sexuality results in harassment and voyeurism.
There’s the dreaded stranger, the one who’s warped lust for power ends in assault.
And let’s not forget the priests, pastors, camp counselors and other religious authorities who obliterate the trust of the females in their spiritual care through abuse.
Or the boyfriends and husbands who’s passive-aggressive approach imbibes on porn and objectifies women for their own cheap thrills.
And then, there’s Jesus.
The ultimate gentleman.
It’s Holy Week. Christians everywhere set apart this long weekend on the calendar every year so we can intentionally reflect on the passion of Jesus.
And the refreshing reality is that Jesus’ passion isn’t about getting,
He doesn’t need to power up,
And he never shames.
Jesus redefines passion and flips the world’s definition upside down through supreme self-sacrifice.
Jesus leadership style watches my back by surrendering His.
That scourging Jesus took in my place, it came from a heavy whip designed with small lead balls attached to leather thongs. The first lashes cut through his dermis then into the subcutaneous tissues, breaking blood vessels and ultimately the veins in the underlying muscles until the skin on Jesus back hung in long ribbons leaving the entire area an unrecognizable gnarly mass of torn, bleeding flesh. Half fainting from blood loss, a guard pressed long thorns hard into His scalp and He carried a heavy cross to the hill of Golgotha where they drove wrought iron nails through His feet and wrists positioning Him upright on a cross in a perfected posture of ultimate torment so that His muscles would quickly cramp and prevent his ability to take breaths. As His tortured lungs filled with fluid, His heart went into shock and ultimately ruptured.*
And in the midst of His own unfathomable suffering,
He’s concerned about the safekeeping of that woman in His life, his own dear Mama.
“Take care of her for me,” Jesus tells His buddy John.
That’s our Jesus.
And perfectly good.
He doesn’t dismiss our fears.
And he doesn’t excuse harm and violence against us.
It’s a comfort to know that in a broken down world where our sense of security is commonly threatened, that Jesus fights for us.
That we can flee to His strong arms and freeze right there, held tightly in His nail scarred hands.
And that’s just one of the reasons this Friday is a Good Friday.
Postscript: In case you think I’m man-bashing, stay tuned for my next post on Other Good Men in the Making. Male image bearers of Christ abound and I’m grateful.