Monday. The day we all meet with dread, sometimes without reason. We anticipate the unknown week, knowing that a hurried life may happen, crisis could emerge, personalities could flare up, or the week could simply fly by without us noticing.
But, this past Monday was different. I woke up rested, yes I said it, rested. The weekend was relaxing and accomplishing all at the same time. Laundry was caught up, so I could literally wear whatever I wanted. There was nothing pressing in the day.
I rolled out of bed with a smile on my face, threw on one of my favorite sweaters, had enough time to coordinate my jewelry and even pack lunch, and take a breath before work. If I could actually whistle, there probably would have been a happy tune as I walked to my car.
The morning carried that same peaceful tone, even in the midst of brainstorming and creating.
And then it happened, the inevitable, the reason we’ve been conditioned to hate Mondays. The urgent that creeps up and steals your joy! John came in after his break and said, “does someone drive the little cavalier outside?”
Oh, you mean, the little blue one that just keeps going even though it’s been on its last leg for the past several years. You mean the one you can leave completely unlocked with the keys in it and no one is going to touch. The one with the paint coming off and the one where the driver’s seat becomes a recliner at the most inopportune times.
I prepare myself for the doom and say, “Yeah, that would be me.”
I’m then informed somehow in the course of a few hours my tire has gone completely flat. My thoughts begin to shift into “how am I going to fix this” mode while my emotions slowly start to drift into “woe is me” mode. In an instant both modes were wiped away when he asked for my keys so he could go take a look at it and told me not to worry about it he’d take care of it.
Within a few hours, he had called a friend, took it off, put on my spare, and his friend took the tire for me to see what they could do.
And, within a few hours, I felt…respected…cared for…Cherished. These two men, one I didn’t even know, gave up their schedules and time and went out in the freezing cold to take care of me. They didn’t have to. It wasn’t an obligation, or even an expectation really. It was done out of thoughtfulness, kindness, and respect.
Later the same night, I was reminded of just how powerful a respectful man can be while hearing a story of a 15 year old girl. Her story starts with a man who was “annoying.” I learned quickly that in our world annoying is now interchangeable with aggressive, insulting, even abusive. The actions of young men, or society, or whatever culprit we would like to blame, has now minimized hitting, biting, name-calling, and abuse to a word that is equivalent in my life to someone smacking their food or continually clicking a pen.
The stark reality of the two worlds collided and now I had to take notice.
My reality is one in which my entire life I have been surrounded my men who have loved and respected me. I have men that protect me, teach me, and encourage me. They provide me strength and kindness all at the same time. Sheltered by their safety and protection, I learned to risk, challenge, and live.
But, the opposite is true for so many other girls. They’ve learned to settle for not be scared 50% of the time, or 25%, or 10%. Their norm has become “well at least it’s not as bad as the last one.” They’ve had men inflict them with unnecessary shame and guilt. Safety and protection was replaced with robbery of their innocence, choices, and an understanding of what a healthy man looks like.
One creating confidence built on respect.
One creating not knowing built on disrespect.
Two worlds completely distinct, yet blending and intersecting so often we don’t notice they coexist.
But once they collide questions have to emerge.
Questions like, what determines if a man becomes a man of respect or disrespect? What determines which ones we allow in our life?
As well as questions like, What if respectful men rise up? Would they believe it? Could they accept it? If healthy, loving men stand up would they feel the same safety and protection I feel when I with my uncles, my teachers, my pastors, my brothers, my friends?
I have to believe the answer is yes.