The angst of becoming a strong woman

I went to church again Sunday.  There was an eager, young guest speaker.  As I understand it, he’s been a Christian for about one year.  He seems very certain of his beliefs for one so young in his faith.  He said things like, “People have said I’d be good being a preacher my whole life.”  He was, indeed, a good speaker.  I’m just not too sure of his actual content.  The first time I heard him speak was at last Wednesday night’s apologetics bible study.  The material was well spoken, but I wondered where exactly he got it from.  My skepticism can perhaps be explained by my personal experiences with The Church.  The conservative American church, to be exact.  You know the one.  Wives submit to your husbands, home school your kids, respectable married women with kids don’t work outside the home, women don’t preach, vote Republican church.  And, don’t forget, if your husband abuses you, it’s just the unfortunate consequences of your own poor choices.  Suck it up, because God has declared that’s it’s your own tough luck, and the rest of us agree.   Yeah, that one.

I met a couple of new people Sunday.  One was a woman who sat behind me.  She asked if I was going to the Wednesday night bible study.  I’ll go again, even if I’m not sure if I completely agree with this apologetics course.  I would like to hear from the pastor to see what he has to say on the subject.  I also met a man sitting across the aisle.  He came over during the “greet someone you don’t know” part of the service.  I politely said hello and then turned to say hello to someone else.  As I sat back down, I could sense that he was looking over at me.  Why, I don’t know.  I was sitting on the side of the church, so he had to deliberately look away from the speaker to look at me.  I told myself that he was probably looking at someone other than me.  It just seemed creepy.  At the end of the service, I stalled for time to make sure he was gone before I left.  I spoke to the woman behind me and played around with my phone, then got up to leave.  The man across the aisle was still there, got up at the same time and came over to me. “It was very nice meeting you”, he said.  I smiled, said thank you and walked away.  I didn’t respond with the usual, “You, too”.  Because, frankly, really didn’t care one way or another.  I don’t want to read more into it than a pleasant hello, but I don’t want my niceness to be construed as encouragement either.

Here’s my dilemma.  I don’t want to be mean, but I’m not in the least bit interested in meeting him, talking to him, or otherwise having contact with him.  The fact that he was getting in my face irritated me.  Because, of course, as a woman, I should naturally be flattered at his attentions.  This seems to be a common problem as a single woman going to church.  I remember when I went through my first divorce, a man walked up to me in a bible study, shook my hand and immediately asked how many kids I had.  With a straight face I replied, “Ten”.  The shock on his face was priceless.  Despite my 10 kids and counting status, that same man continued to harass me and I was at a loss how to deal with it.  Guys like that count on my niceness and take advantage of the fact that I feel obligated to be polite.  In the end, I used my now almost ex-husband to ward him off.  And we all know how that ended up.

 

I guess the next time I see the “man across the aisle” will be a test of whether he tries to strike up a conversation.  My knee jerk reaction is to just not go back to that church.  But, I realize that it would be pointless to leave every church where a man approached me to see if I was interested in pursuing a relationship.  I suppose that at some point, I’ll have to learn to deal with such situations.  At this point in my life, I am not really interested in developing a relationship with any man, platonic or not.  Unless he’s gay, then I’m totally okay with it.  I just need to figure out how to deal with social, coed situations.  I think of scenarios in my head and possible responses.  That’s how I work.  If he asks me to go for lunch, or something similar, the following retorts come to mind:

“No, thank you.  I don’t know you at and I’m not interested in going anywhere with you”

“No.  I don’t eat in the presence of men”

“I guess I’m supposed to be flattered that you think I’m so foolish that I would go anywhere with a strange man that I know nothing about.  But, I’m not.”

“Do I know you?”

“No, I don’t want to go anywhere with you.  Not now and not ever.”

“No.”

(Stare at him for about 10 seconds then walk away)

See my dilemma?  Or, I could do what I’ve always done and that’s say yes, so as not to offend him.  Except, of course, that’s what has gotten me in trouble more times than I care to remember.  I guess I’ll just play it by ear.  With any luck, it’s all in my head and I won’t even have to deal with it.  But, I have a sinking feeling that I’ll have to have a plan by Wednesday night bible study.  I could always become a nun before then.  That is, if I was still Catholic.  But then I’d have to go to confession, which is more than a little disturbing.  I can still remember sitting in the back of the church, consorting with my brother about what sins we could come up with.  And, I can still smell the inside of that confessional and hear that little door opening.  Okay, maybe being a nun is not an option.  I could just forgo the makeup on and wear something really ugly.  Unfortunately, my vanity won’t allow me to do that.  I have two days to come up with something.  Maybe I’ll post an appeal for help to my Facebook crowd.  Modern technology, ain’t it grand?

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About minervasue

I'm a woman on a quest to reinvent myself. My mission, to separate doctrine from theology and tradition from the heart of God. I advocate for woman's rights in the Conservative Christian community. And take a stand against the patriarchal practices in the Church that perpetuate abuse and violence towards women.
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