Ferocious Female Fears: Eskimo Girls and Women’s Retreats
It was January of 1979 when my family moved, and I was a new student, coming in half way through the academic year. I was an 8th grader in a Southern California High School District which had recently adopted a (short-lived) plan to eliminate all their Jr. High Schools and place the 8th graders on the High School campuses. The first week at the school is a a bit blurry, but there are some significant moments that do stand out. For example, I still remember the one time I visited my assigned locker for that year. I was greeted by two gentlemen who appeared to be middle-aged auto mechanics. I now recognize that they were more likely a couple of 17-year-old boys who had just come from the Auto-Shop class. Both were tall, dark and badly in need of a shave. They teased me when I struggled with my locker. I looked up at the two scruffy men with their broad shoulders and made a conscious decision to carry all of my books for the rest of the year. This was the beginning of my strength-training regimen.
One other memory that stands out is the day I was assaulted by an Eskimo. Someone had been caught passing notes in Science class, and the teacher opted to have us all stay after class for 10 minutes (or maybe it was three–but the time was an eternity in my mind). This was the last class of the day, and when we were finally able to exit the classroom the halls were barren. The High School was laid out in a circle, so it was easy to get lost. I’ve heard about former classmates of my Alma Mater who still wander the blue and gold halls to this day. They are perpetually lost in the round-about.
As I tried to find my way to the place where I was to meet up with my two older brothers, I ended up going in the wrong direction completely. It was a rainy day–so of course it made my mood more intense and my memory of the event more dramatic. I noticed another student from Science class was behind me and heading in the same direction, but I didn’t give it too much thought. I turned the corner to what I thought would be the Attendance Offices, and saw the school’s gymnasium. This is when I realized I was lost.
This is when I also realized that girls could be mean for no reason what so ever. As I stood staring at the large building, the student I had noticed earlier came up behind me and slammed a fist into my back. I turned around and what stood before me was a looming female figure. She had dark brown hair and dark eyes to match. Her jawline was wide, giving her a baboon-like aggressive look. She was broader than I, and she was scowling. To this day I have no idea what she said to me. I think I was in shock.
What happened next was when I realized that girls could be kind for no reason what so ever. Suddenly, three girls seemed to step out of nowhere. Like a pack of Pink Superheroes, one of the girls reached out, grabbed my arm and pulled me in the direction they were walking. No one said anything to the wide face, dark haired girl. They just walked, and pulled me along. Finally one of the girls spoke to me saying, “She wrote a note that said she was gonna kick your ass.” I looked down and mumbled, “Why?”
The answer has stayed with me for years. “She doesn’t like how you look, she said she could tell you were stuck up.”
We walked to the Attendance Offices and the Pink Superheroes went on their way. I found my brothers and we walked home in the rain. I didn’t tell my family what had happened because I was too ashamed. Somehow I felt like I had done something to cause the assault. After all, the insinuation of being “stuck up” was the worst accusation I had ever faced. With it held the unspoken belief that I saw something in myself that they lacked. It spoke volumes in areas that I didn’t even fully understand.
It would be great to say that the Pink Superheroes became my friends, but that’s not what happened. I mean, eventually it happened–over the course of years and shared experiences we did become friends (and consequently we now share our lives on Facebook.) What happened in 1979, was that I spent a period of about five months scurrying off campus and up a steep hill to my house for fear of the wide faced, dark haired girl. Then, one day, the girl seemed to vanish. Someone later told me she had moved to Alaska. I have avoided Eskimos ever since.
Riding on “Small World” at Disneyland is an entirely different experience for me than it is for most people.
Last week my husband interviewed for a Pastoral position at a large church in another state. (No–it’s not Alaska) We were blessed that they were even interested in talking with him. In light of my infidelity from last year, I didn’t believe the leadership of any church would want me to wear the title, “Pastor’s Wife.”
Visiting the church was one of the most stressful interviewing experiences my husband and I have ever faced. We have interviewed for several different churches over the course of our 26 years of marriage, but this was completely different. This time along with all the emotions that we brought on our road trip, I brought along guilt and shame. Because these emotions are so intense, they affected the entire week-long process.
My fears and insecurities were huge, but God was bigger.
The church did offer my husband a job. The leaders are fully aware of what I did, yet they have decided to walk through this time with us. Our hope is inspired because of their decision to embrace us both.
We already began to see the adventure unfolding when we found a home to buy. After some offers and counter-offers, our bid was accepted and we entered into escrow. It’s exciting to imagine being homeowners again. The adventure is underway.
Then the 13-year-old girl in me appeared. It happened when I went online to read about the church’s Women’s Retreat. I read the details quickly: campground, hiking, bunk beds. No Refunds on registration. The retreat will happen less than a month after escrow closes. I love camping and hiking, and the timing seemed perfect…before I clicked the mouse.
After I clicked the mouse, my heart began to pound with an unnatural rhythm, the room started spinning and my eyes welled up with tears. I looked over at my husband, and my words spilled out softly, “Oh crap…what did I just do?” He reached over and wiped away the lone tear falling down my cheek, “It’s gonna be good.”
And he believes that. He believes that it’s going to be good because he has never been a 13-year-old girl in a new school with an Eskimo wanting to “kick your ass.” He believes that women will like me, and he believes that I will make friends. I love his optimistic confidence in the female species. However, my mind thinks differently about women. Girls are mean when they have no reason to be mean, and if there was ever a time in my life that girls have a reason to be mean–the time is now.
I am eager for the Lord to transform me into a woman of confidence and security–but, I’m not there yet. I am still struggling with identity and self-worth. I am anxious and insecure, and sometimes I have to recite my memory verses over and over at 4 AM until sleep finds me. Sure, in a public setting I can be as funny as any stand-up comedian after a two drink minimum. 🙂 But, my private world is still under construction.
Even though I am no longer a teenager, I am filled with the same fears of rejection. I want to have friends, and I want to connect with people in deep and meaningful ways. I want to hear the stories of others, and be encouraged by the ways God is moving in their lives. I want to go for walks and talk about television shows and failures in dieting. I want to dine out with friends, and laugh at the stories of child-rearing gone wrong. I want to meet a friend for coffee, and share confessions of books we never finished. I want to believe that there is a place where I am wanted–a place where a woman is waiting for a friend.
My fear is that I won’t make those friends. The enemy tells me that my future will include isolation and shunning. That’s a cold way to live. It brings up images of ice storms and igloos.
My only choice is to pray for the Pink Superheroes to show up in my life. Girls of grace. My hope is strengthened and my heart calms down when I hear myself praying outloud for God to bring women into my life who are not afraid to spend time with a woman with flaws. Over the course of the last five months, I have learned so much about the nature of strong grace-filled women. These are women who love with actions and deeds, and not merely with words. They have inspired me in ways that are more meaningful than they may even realize. They have used text messaging, social media, and coffee dates as a means to show me God’s love. They have been unafraid to invite me to Bunco and Birthday Parties. They nudged me on to serve at my church. They’ve stepped in with blow dryers and prayers. I want to learn from them. I want to take what they have demonstrated and pass it along to other women. Ultimately, I have learned that I want to be someone else’s Pink Superhero.
My fears and insecurities are huge, but God is bigger.