She was just a Child...no more than five years old. Her greatest hero was Peter from C.S. Lewis' Narnia series.....hours upon hours were spent daydreaming about finding another world, and having a dashing big brother with a sword who could conquer all wrong. Men and boys were idealized in the Child's mind as brave and daring creatures who rode horses and saved damsels in distress.
The Child grew, and became a Young Girl, and as she neared her tenth birthday, she began to realize that things may not be quite how they seemed. The boys she knew were...different....than how she'd imagined.
The Young Girl grew still more and became a full fledged girl....a Teenager. She had changed drastically from the Child she was originally. Experiences had taught her that most boys weren't heroes....in fact, most boys didn't give a rip about the fact that she was a girl. It shocked her at first. She expected to be recognized as a woman and to be treated as such. But none of the boys she knew even bothered to open the door for her.
Hurt and confused, the Teenager lashed back in the only way she knew.....pride. Her naturally competitive spirit egged her on to be better than all the boys she knew. Whatever they did, she would do....plus some. To be considered "one of the guys" became her goal. If it was a water fight, she had one of the biggest guns there, and would be sure to emerge one of the dirtiest. She rode horses, slung hay bales, wore boots, and laughed at any boy who didn't drive a truck. She gloried in her strength, her knowledge, her fearlessness, and her ability to get banged up and bloodied without a tear.
Then one day, God decided she need an attitude adjustment.
Slowly but surely, He started the process of transforming her from the Teenager she was into the Young Woman who He had in mind. One by one, He sent some very special boys into her life.
But no, to be honest, I can't call them boys. They were men....in the truest and best sense of the word.
Men who knew to treat a girl differently than their guy friends.
Men who refused to be intimated when their offer of help was met with her brusque "I can get it."
Men who knew to say, "Oh, I know very well you can get it. But you're a girl, and I'm a boy, and as such, I'm not going to stand here and watch you carry the heavier load. Now hand it over."
Men who opened the door for her...not just once, but again and again and again until she stopped fighting and just let them do it....and then, finally, came to appreciate it.
One morning, the Teenager woke up, and suddenly realized that she was now a Young Woman. No longer did strength or knowledge hold the highest place in her esteem.
She had been humbled.
She was no longer ashamed to like pretty clothes and wear earrings. Dressing up didn't horrify her like it had at one time. Things like emotions and tears and weaknesses weren't brushed off as "girly". Oh, she could and did still wear boots and throw hay, but there was a difference in the attitude with which she did it all. And oddly enough, her idea of men and boys and heroes and chivalry....well, it was pretty close to what the Child had believed about it all. But it was different, too.
The Child thought of heroes as men with flashing swords and big horses.
The Young Woman saw them as normal people doing unusually wonderful things.
The Child dreamed of experiences that only happened in fantasy books.
The Young Woman gloried in real life experiences...and found them so much more fulfilling.
And so, she came to realize that chivalry was not dead. It was nearly forgotten, but it still lived in the hearts of a few special men. And with God's help, those men, though maybe unaware of it, slowly shaped her into a more gracious, humble, and accepting person.
In case you hadn't guessed, the Child, Young Girl, Teenager, and Young Woman.....those are me. This post http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/01/13/chivalry-is-out-of-style/ got my wheels turning and made me take a closer look at the long journey I've taken to get to where I am. Looking back, I shudder to think of how I viewed chivalry when I was 15 years old. While I hated it, at the same time, I longed for it. God slowly and graciously peeled my hands off my eyes....forcing me to see that no man is perfect, but many are trying very hard, and the least I could do was accept their efforts.
Girls, never turn down the offer of a helping hand. It makes the guy feel like a million bucks, and it certainly doesn't hurt you!
I've heard so many times about the tremendous influential power girls have on the men in their lives. And while I believe that is true, I think it's often underestimated as to how much a man can influence the girls in his life.
Men, please, please don't ever stop being chivalrous. As stubborn as us girls can be, we truly love it and are blessed by it. So please don't be discouraged...
"No, sir, 'tain't what a man gets that makes him rich; it's what he keeps.
And these folks that are swoppin' the old-fashioned sort of love that builds homes and raises families and lets man and wife work together, an' meet trouble together, an' be happy together, an' grow old bein' happy together—if they're swoppin' all that for these here new, down-to-date ideas of such things, they're makin' a poor bargain, accordin' to my way of thinkin'.
There is such a thing, sir, as educatin' a man or woman plumb out of reach of happiness....."
"Childhood scenes rushed back at me out of the night, strangely close and urgent. Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.
I didn't know it then-nor, indeed, that there was any new future to prepare for in a life as humdrum and predictable as mine. I only knew as I lay in my bed at the top of the house that certain moments from long ago stood out in focus against the blur of years. Oddly sharp and near they were, as though they were not yet finished, as though they had something more to say............."
~ Corrie ten Boom
We read from The Hiding Place aloud tonight...this ending to the first chapter hit me hard.
All the scenes of the past, all the heartache, all the joy, the tests, and the triumphs, the letdowns......all the memories.....if I can only surrender them to Him, they are the perfect, the only thing that can prepare me for the future He has planned.
Only God knows what 2014 will bring, but my prayer is that, by His grace, I will have learned from the memories, and can meet whatever comes with more love, more faith, more willingness to forgive, less fear, less self-protection, and more joy than I did in 2013.