Some of the most enlightening conversations are those engaged in by other diners sitting within earshot of your own table.
On two occasions in a matter of months, this type of overheard commentary un-graced the breakfast I had just asked the Lord to bless. Sadly, both times it was at my favorite ‘family’ restaurant, a thriving eatery with good food, friendly servers, and a comfortable atmosphere.
Apparently quite comfortable for some of the general public.
Call me naive, but it seems that the sort of talk that has long taken place in bars and man caves has migrated out to booths and tables laden with pancakes and mugs of hot coffee.
Never mind if the next table over is a family with three assorted kids and a baby trying to engage mom in a tireless game of ‘pick up spoons’. Or, the grey-haired elderly couple that shuffled into the booth three feet away and overhearing, are already rolling over in the graves they aren’t even in yet.
Or ones like me and you. Full of opinions ourselves, but a while back learned lessons in common courtesy about what made for public consumption and what was best kept in bars and man caves.
Meanwhile, back to the ‘other diners’ …
“She didn’t have much on top but she made up for it in other ways.”
Six young adult to early forty-something guys were seated at the big round table a biscuit’s throw away. On a different schedule for the day, I had brought a book and was enjoying my breakfast, ie. minding my own business.
This particular comment garnered an eye-roll from me and a silent sigh of gratitude that my husband’s 28 years of employment at the aluminum plant were long behind us. I can’t tell you how many times he came home in disgust because women’s anatomy and men’s conquests were the only topics over which some could even hold a conversation.
At least the hot and grimy aluminum plant was a more fitting atmosphere than being seated near the restaurant wall painted with an encouraging verse of scripture. On a side note, I silently agreed, albeit from a different take, with “she didn’t have much on top…” since I’ve had a bilateral mastectomy due to breast cancer. One never knows who’s listening.
But wait. There’s more.
“It’s sad what women have to go through to get [taken to bed]. (I’ll spare you the exact quote). I ’bout spit out my coffee over that one.
Followed immediately by, “I had to go to a museum to seal the deal!”
As if visiting a museum was a fate worse than death for someone who simply wanted to get picked up and get on with it.
The saddest part that got to my heart was this last two-line commentary, as well as the disparaging opening line about inner beauty, was uttered by a 50-something woman expounding ‘pick-up’ wisdom to a younger couple with a child in a nearby booth. The disparity didn’t escape me.
I am a 50-something woman who promotes inner beauty.
Lord help us! and pass the maple syrup.
Though it may sound like I’ve been living with my head in the sand, nothing could be farther from the truth. The ministry the Lord has called my husband and me to is filled with real people with real stories. Some of which would curl your hair and drive you to murderous thoughts if not for the Lord’s grace and the occasional angelic hand clamped down on our shoulders or over our mouths. We know about this.
Then we leave our counseling office where we at least somewhat know what to expect (ie. anything) and venture into public. There are far greater numbers of anything out there than we will ever come into contact with or offer help. But it also makes us thankful for the ones the Lord brings directly to us.
In the teeming mass of the general public and Christian community, though, here’s the kicker for me …
All the ishshahs who fight the battle of being a woman in myriad ways, only to have succumbed to the lies about their supposed value. That doesn’t leave too many women – like stones – unturned, does it?
Females have been the brunt of male humor and lust since the near-dawn of time. That doesn’t surprise us. But when women regard themselves in such a manner as I heard described above, it cuts even more to the quick. Our own have a deep, infected wound that cries silently for an equally cleansing healing.
Except they’ve clamped a hand over its mouth. And some have adopted a brassy bravado as their weapon of choice:
- If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
- Better yet, beat ’em at their own game. Be proactive and give it away. That way you at least maintain control.
- Bring it on, big guy. And don’t take me to no museum.
The picture it brings to mind is ishshahs‘ souls wearing combat boots while trying to fit in Marilyn’s high heels.
I live in the land world-famous for Hollywood. Not many people are unfamiliar with Marilyn Monroe, the quintessential American sex symbol. While reading about her early life though – before she was ‘discovered’ – it was evident she suffered as deeply as the next general public person, perhaps more.
By the time she had been re-crafted into a blonde bombshell and starred in many films designed only to exploit her sexuality, she tired of how everyone viewed her. In her own words …
“I want to grow and develop and play serious dramatic parts.
My dramatic coach…tells everybody that I have a great soul,
but so far nobody’s interested in it.”
She died at the tender age of 36. Pictures of her deathbed nude body were snapped and published. No one was interested in her ‘great soul’.
Or, apparently, her inner beauty.
That breaks my heart. For her and all the women resigned to believing that “inner beauty won’t get you free drinks.”
What if Marilyn could know, decades later, that the story of her life impacted some ishshahs in a manner opposite to for what she was known, salivated over, and jealously regarded?
That there were some ishshahs who, though well aware they are ‘not quite Marilyn’, do identify with her desire for someone to take an interest in their great soul?
Perhaps it’s time to be the first to take an interest in one’s own great soul. The one bought and paid for with the precious blood of Jesus.
For the ‘not quite Marilyn’s out there – inner beauty gets you far more than free drinks. It gets you a well of living water that never runs dry.
Straightening up, Jesus said to her,
“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
John 8:10-11 NASB
Please drop your self-condemning rock and pass the maple syrup.