Men, Women, and God: A Day in Chicago

 

{Guest Post by Lexy Pederson}


 

I experienced something a couple of weeks ago that has happened to me many times since moving to Chicago, but really shook me that particular morning. I’d like to share my thoughts.

Before I do, if you don’t know me that well, I am a pretty independent individual. I don’t mind sitting alone at meals, moving far away from home knowing close to no one in the area, or navigating public transportation. I am all about empowering women to be the best they can be, but I strongly feel that the role men play in society and in the family is underrated, and wish they also felt empowered to lead in a strong, healthy way. I dress modestly mostly because I am always cold, but also because I think modest is the hottest. I try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt in any and all situations. I am not writing this to accuse anyone or enforce a stereotype. I am writing this to bring light to something I, as a woman, have been dealing with for the past four months and many women have been dealing with for far longer. Okay, I’m ready.

On this particular morning, I had an interview in a different neighborhood of Chicago at 9:30, so I left North Park around 8:15 and strolled to the bus stop. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, sweater, skirt, leggings, boots and a long coat. It went well and I was heading back to my bus stop to go back for the rest of my day. Even after getting Dunkin’, I still had about ten minutes until my bus would get there. During these ten minutes, I had one man come up to me and ask a question, crossing my personal space bubble that I draw in public with strangers. I answered the best I could and told my mind to relax, that I wasn’t familiar with the area, and that’s the only reason why it made me nervous for him to be so close.

A couple minutes passed and I saw two men walking my direction eyeing me from down the street. I immediately held on tighter to my purse and looked at the ground–something I have gotten very good at since moving here. Ignore them, my mind tells me. They walk by looking me up and down the entire time, and even have the nerve to turn around as they pass me with a snicker on each of their faces.

I’m just a piece of meat to them. I wonder if they know how insanely creepy they are. It’s obvious I’m not from around here that they think they can do that. Stupid Iowa vibe. When is my bus coming?….tick tick…

My thoughts are racing and my heart rate picking up. At this point, a quick glance down the street and I can see my bus heading my way.

The next thing I know, there’s a red light and a car with two men pulls up. The man in the passenger seat had his eyes glued on me. I kid you not, his face is almost pressed up against the window watching me the entire three minutes they sat there at the light. I finally got on my bus and made it back to campus just fine, but that was a mere ten minutes of my day and still enough to shake me up for awhile after.

If a guy had been with me, I guarantee none of that would have happened. I’ve actually tried it before. If I was a guy, that would not have happened. I would’ve been left alone and probably wouldn’t have thought twice about two men walking down the street towards me. Something is seriously wrong in our society. I was not dressed scandalous at all. I would not have hesitated to wear what I had on to my grandma’s, yet I was terrified on a Wednesday morning at 10:00am, and rightfully so. I did absolutely nothing to bring this on myself. Women everywhere are scared to go to work and back; scared to go on a walk; scared to get the mail; scared to walk to their car at night. But WHY?

I don’t have an answer to my own thoughts, but something is wrong. We are not objects. We are independent, intelligent, loving, caring, sassy, frustrating, curvy, skinny, beautiful, funny, courageous, brave, adventurous and flawless women.

And we deserve to be able to live life and go anywhere without feeling threatened, nervous for our safety, or looked at like pieces of meat.

This really got me thinking about life. What are the true battles that I face everyday? Is the battle I faced that chilly December morning in Chicago, Illinois, a battle against the two men walking down the street that made me feel uncomfortable? Or is it a continuous battle against the one true enemy, Satan, who is trying to make all women believe the lies in their head that they are inferior people to be dealt with and have no other worth or purpose?

Then I began thinking about other battles that I face in life, like feeling as if I am too much of an independent woman. Am I really “too independent for my own good” (as some have told me), or is something greater than those comments trying to make me believe that women should be submissive and unhealthily dependent upon others? Am I really supposed to have all of my dark secrets shoved under the bed and left alone, or am I made and encouraged to share them in community with others?

Then I got to thinking: who is fighting these battles for me? On that particular morning, I think I was trying to fight my own battles by coming up with twelve different ways I could throw my hot coffee at someone that came too close. After reflecting on and sharing this experience, a couple scripture passages were thrown my way:

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”- Exodus 14:14
“I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.”- Psalm 62-1-2

Maybe we should shift our train of thought when dealing with the challenges that come with everyday life. It is not realistic to fight our battles alone, and it is not healthy to funnel all of our frustration and anger into broken people like ourselves. There is a much bigger battle going on in the world around us. This battle is one we often forget about or are uncomfortable talking about with friends. It can never be won by our own power or by the blame we put on others in the world. It can only be fought through strong community, transparency with others, and a knowledge and love of Christ. Everyday as we step out the door, we have the opportunity as strong and independent women to hold our heads high and walk without fear because the King of Kings, our Lord, is leading the way.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things?                                                                                                       If God is for us, who can be against us?”                                                                                                                                       – Romans 8:31

Before You Go

What are some battles in your life on which you would like to change perspective?

Who is fighting your battles?


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Lexy is a sophomore in college studying business and social work. She has a huge passion for bringing reconciliation and support to the kids of broken homes and the whole family unit. After finishing her AA, she will be taking a year off to intern as the Volunteer Recruiter for an organization called Wine to Water based out of North Carolina. Their whole focus is to bring clean water to people that don’t have access to it, and they currently dig wells and provide cleaner water options in 11 different countries. She loves Iowa and the wide open spaces and freedom it provides, but is eager to travel and see the world more globally.

She blogs every so often here. 

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