Leave Her Alone

Leave Her Alone

I’m a southern girl. I grew up in a small, modest house in the mountains of North Carolina; a house equipped with one bathroom for a family of five, four of us girls.  I have clear memories of my Daddy, his 6’2” frame rising above ours as he jostled for a spot in the mirror to get ready.  He never complained. He never showed any annoyance or frustration, even when we’d spray our hair, oblivious to his presence behind us, leaving him gasping for air as the cloud of fumes surrounded his face. Raising girls was no easy task for my Daddy. He helped produce three, strong-willed young women, frequently reminding us to never let people walk all over us, to stand up for ourselves because we mattered. He weathered the storms of our teenage years, persevering in teaching us to assert ourselves because he knew the long term benefits of giving us a voice would far outweigh the initial struggles of adolescence. Certain smells trigger memories of times past. For me, the smell of Old Spice and leather conjure up memories of my childhood, my dad and me in his pick-up truck, his two hands on the steering wheel, me cuddled close to him, my head resting near his shoulder. I felt such security with my Daddy. His love for my sisters and me was tangible, evident in his tone, his smile, and his embrace. I always felt special; I never experienced the longing some children feel when a parent is absent, distant, or gone for long periods of time. I never wondered if my dad missed out on having a boy. I knew with everything in me I was enough. I admired my daddy, I longed for his approval, and there was never a moment during my childhood, adolescence, or adulthood when I didn’t receive it. He introduced my sisters and me to others with the pride of an Olympian, placing his arm around our shoulders and smiling down at us, his three gold medals. I thank God each day for a father who looked beyond my gender to my soul. He gave his all as he raced me around the track in our go-carts, never taking it easy on me because I was a girl. He pushed me when I wanted to quit, exhausted by the physical conditioning for basketball and volleyball.  He cheered me on during every game and practice. He reminded me of my tenacious spirit during one of the worst heartaches of my life.  He never missed an opportunity to tell me how pretty I was, how smart I was, or how capable I was.  He sent me out into the world with the belief I could do anything and be anything, and I bought it all hook-line-and-sinker. Looking back, I think Daddy knew the challenges I would encounter as a woman, and he worked to build my endurance in preparation for the fights I would face to claim what is rightfully mine in this patriarchal world. Although my dad sent me out into the world ready for battle, he never spoke specifically of the heartaches I might endure by simply being the person God has called me to be. I can honestly say I’ve floated through a good bit of my life completely unaware of how others perceive me. I can also attest to how painful the slap was which awakened me to the realization that the qualities of my personality which made my Daddy so proud are the same character traits which fuel others’ perceptions of me as not fitting the model of a Biblical woman, of not participating in a Biblical model of marriage. I’m too bold, too assertive, too opinionated, too transparent, too authoritative, too out-spoken. I walk with my husband, not behind him.  My spiritual leadership in my family is equitable to my husband’s. I engage in philosophical and theological and intellectual conversations using the personal pronoun “I” instead of “we”, speaking for myself, instead of including myself in my husband’s opinions which naturally should be mine, as well.  I do not obey my husband or ask for his permission, but partner with him in every nuance of our marriage and parenting, each of us submitting to Christ’s will, losing ourselves, not for each other, but for Him only and always. My relationship with Christ has always been very similar to my relationship with my dad; a relationship in which I participated fully. I was never excluded from anything because I am a girl. I never had to temper my strengths or silence my voice. I enjoyed complete access to my dad and...

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