Thursday, October 1, 2015

When You've Reached the Breaking Point

Though I intern with young children, I am also a high school color guard instructor. Like any teacher, there are days where I want to quit. There are also days where I cry at the thought of my girls graduating, because I love them dearly and hate to see them go. There are days that are simply pleasurably enjoyable and there are days when you wonder what you're even doing there.

Let's get one thing straight. I love color guard. And I love these girls. But I teach young children for a reason. Yes, I do just as many lesson plans for my high schoolers as I do for my youngsters. I worry about them just as much when I get home, and pray for them just as much at night. While I am at work or in class or even at my own practices, I am thinking about them. But I have a real thing about maturity: the older you get, the more you should have, and unfortunately, we probably all know this is simply not the case.

You see, when my two-year-old's tell me "no," I know that it is a normal developmental process. They are learning to assert themselves and communicate, and as frustrating as "no" is, it is essential. Does it mean they shouldn't be disciplined anyway? No. But at least we understand that when a toddler says "no," they are not yet old enough to know better. But I have high schoolers who tell me no. I have high schoolers who question my authority. I have high schoolers who cannot stand not being in control, and refuse to listen to instructions and commands. Some even refuse to answer my questions if they feel it is beneath them. These girls are the epitome of the Entitlement Generation: they think the rules don't apply to them.

Now granted, not all my girls are like this, but the bottom line is: I'm their coach. When they drop, they do push-ups. When they are late, they run laps. When they have not practiced enough to know their show, they do not perform. I have rules and they are to be obeyed.

I received two emails this week from two different members of my guard. One was from the captain, an exquisite leader with ultimate patience and always follows the rules. The other was from one I've had to approach several times due to her lack of compliance. I've had to hold meetings with her, with the band director, and have threatened that the next time will be with principal. I hope she knows I am serious. But that's beside the point.

I think you're starting to get the picture.

Both these girls had an automatic electronic signature attached to the bottom of their emails. The captain's read, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." The other girl's read, "I will not be taken advantage of again." I don't know if they realize I can see those things. I seriously doubt they care. But it really got me thinking.

Every woman has been at that breaking point; the point where they have been walked all over, trampled upon, and mistreated so many times that they snap, vowing "I will be strong, and I will not be taken advantage of again!" Anyone who has been around a woman after she has made this vow knows that she becomes a very hostile woman, only thinking of herself in attempt to guard her own heart. And I don't think that selfish image is the image any of us want to portray, but so many of us do without even realizing it.

I don't know what happened to my abrasive high schooler to make her the way that she is, but my guess is, she's been through a lot. She's been hurt. She's been wounded. She's been screwed over one too many times. She's well past her breaking point. But here's the deal: So has the captain. For the sake of all confidentiality, I will not discuss a single thing about the captain's life, but in more ways than one, she's got it pretty rough. Just trust me on that. So if both of these girls have been trampled, wounded, bruised, torn, and scarred, why are they so different? 

They had both reached the same breaking point, but how they handled their breaking point was totally different. One girl set out to stand up for herself to the point of selfishness, while the other embarked on the ultimate challenge: treating everyone with the respect and love that she wanted people to give to her. But the effectiveness of their achievement is the biggest difference of all. Both girls achieved their goal: You would never guess either of them had ever been broken. But one girl I would trust with my life, and the other is a test of patience every day.

There is an overwhelming pressure in today's society for women to be strong, and I believe that we should be. I've written my own post about how women should be powerful, strong, beautiful creatures, because we are taken advantage of all the time. Think about it ladies. The quickest way to get a guy to leave you alone is to tell him that you have a boyfriend (even if you're single!), because he respects another man more than he respects you. It's not enough that you don't want to go out with him. It's not enough that you're interested in someone else. It's only enough when you are already taken by someone else. If that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does. We get taken advantage of. But God doesn't call us to be harsh and powerful, he calls us to be strong and dignified. 

God is clear on what a good woman should be in Proverbs 31.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household, and suffers nothing from laziness." 

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

"She extends a helping hand to the poor, and opens her arms to the needy."

And a personal favorite of mine...

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." 

Margaret Nadauld said it best:

"The world has enough women who are tough,
     we need more women who are tender.

There are enough women women who are coarse,
     we need women who are kind.

There are enough women who are rude,
     we need women who are refined.

There are enough women of fame and fortune,

     we need women of faith.

We have enough greed,
     we need more goodness.

We have enough vanity,
     we need more virtue.

And we have enough popularity,
     we need more purity."

The world needs more refined minds. We need more pure hearts. We need more virtuous souls. We need more Christ-centered women.

So when you've hit that breaking point, you've got a choice to make. Do you callous yourself to stand up to your oppressors? Or do you choose to love them? That choice is never easy. So instead I'll ask it a different way: Which kind of woman do you want to be?

I know which woman I am most likely to be, and it's not the same woman I want to be. And I don't know about you, but I've got a new quote tacked to my bulletin board...

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." 

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