Watch this video with me, if you will. It spoke to me today.
I grew up with three brothers in a neighborhood full of boys. I loved playing dolls and house with my sister, but I also spent a lot of time playing outside with the boys. I ran as fast and kicked the ball as hard as any of them my age. I was as intense as they were in foursquare and kickball. I played with snakes and toads and bugs and went “nightcrawlering” right alongside the boys and got as sweaty and dirty as they did, and at night I had to scrub my feet with Comet in the tub (because my mom would let us go barefoot all day but, by golly, we were going to bed with clean feet). And I spent hours and hours playing baseball, mostly catch and rundown.
And I hated when I was reminded that I “threw like a girl.” Because that meant I wasn’t good enough, and I never would be, never could be, because I was a girl.
Mixed in among the many wonderful memories of a mission trip years later was the shame of being told by the leader that I “hammer like a girl”. Forget the fact that I was roofing a home in the heat of Oklahoma in August, overcoming my fear of heights, and leading a group of six teen-aged boys, my weakness was what was pointed out to me. Why has they stayed with me all these years? Why was there such a sting to those words? And why didn’t the leader (a “girl” herself) just quietly tell me, “Let me show you how to hammer more efficiently.”?
“Like a girl.” Why do we say it? Why are those words an insult?
As I watched the Always video this afternoon, I thought: I’ve done a few amazing things over the years “like a girl”. I’ve birthed beautiful and BIG babies — like a girl. I’ve raised amazing kids — like a girl. I’ve cleaned up vomit in the middle of the night and changed toxic diapers — like a girl. Like a girl, I taught my kids to read and go potty and drive. I’ve said no to my kids (and myself) when I wanted to give in because it needed to be done and have said yes when I was afraid and wanted to say no, because it needed to be done. Like a girl I fostered in our kids fertile ground of curiosity and wide-eyed wonder and planted in them seeds of maturity and faith and independence. And then, like a big girl, I’ve let them go.
Like a girl, I’ve set up housekeeping in six different houses in four different communities, pulling up deep and tender roots with each move, and made each new house a home for our family.
When my weight had crept up over the years, I faced it like a big girl. I spent a year getting into shape and losing twenty pounds. And then I began running. Yes, like a girl. Over the last ten years I’ve grown in my running until I have now completed four half-marathons — last fall even winning my “50-year-old girl” class. (One of the fun surprises about running big events is discovering that there is no running “like a girl” or “like a guy”. Running — stride, pace, and style — varies from one runner to another. We each run “like ourselves”.)
Like a girl I’ve been weak and impulsive and needy, and like a girl I’ve been strong and stayed the course. I’ve been tender like a girl and resolute like one, too. Sometimes I’m selfish like a girl. And sometimes, like a girl, I’ve noticed others hurting and offered my help. It’s all part of being the girl that I am.
And I’ve done it alongside my husband of 29 years. Thank you, Aaron for continuing to choose me, out of all others, to be your girl. You have made me a far better one than I would have been on my own.
I’m thankful to be given this life to live, like a girl, like the girl God made me and the girl He calls me to become. I have never mastered throwing a football and, most of the time, I still throw a baseball like a girl. I have the hammer thing down now, but I still have to do most of my push-ups knees down “like a girl”. But I want to play hard and run fast and love and laugh and cry and live for Him. And I want to do it like the girl I am!
What have the words “like a girl” meant to you? How have we used them, especially to our children (sons and daughters)?