A close relative of mine has a really bad case of irritable bowel syndrome, but I think I just have "irritable" syndrome. Oh, it comes and goes, and moves from one area to another - usually I don't flare up all over at once. But as with any allergic-type reaction, certain things help, and certain things trigger a flareup. So, I try to pay attention to what those things are. What makes me mad, sad, mean, irritable? What restores my peace, serenity, kindness, and mercy?
One bit I've been scared to explore with is why other people's sexist comments get under my skin. Usually when I cry (which is rare) or get angry (which is more common) about anything, it's because something is probing one of my insecurities. So, how do other people's generalizations about what men and women are like hit me at a point of insecurity?
I was regularly mistaken for a boy when we were kids. I clearly remember one incident as late as sixth grade. That set up some insecurities that further experiences (e.g., being excluded for being female but still judged for not being feminine enough, or harshly criticized for not behaving the way women are 'supposed to,' being still single at this age, etc.) and my responses to them (e.g., bitterness) have built on. All that can create a pretty big yucky mess in one's head, and play a major part in causing those knee-jerk reactions. So I need to "own" my part in that (as they say). Chances are if I'm willing to talk and pray through this stuff with friends or mentors it will become LESS of a mess in my head and might even change the way I relate to people.
A willingness to open these cans of worms, as I've found with this healing prayer business, can open up whole new interpretations of past events and their significance - one can actually allow God to rewrite the text of one's life. (And there's no better author/editor out there than him).
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Nevertheless. I think there really IS something messed up about the way [some of] my fellow Christians talk and joke about gender, don't you think? It's not just me being irritable, even if we accept the I.S. diagnosis as a significant factor :-)
Consider this situation I found myself in recently:
Man1: "We're so glad that [wife] could join us today. Oh, and she brought along [husband]. (Laughter).
Wife: "He's my chauffeur!"
Man1: (getting serious now) "[Husband], why don't you tell us about what you've been doing?"
(Wife not heard from again until the 'joke' is relaunched. Husband does almost all the talking).
Man2: "[Wife], why don't you tell us how we can pray for you, since we know [husband] isn't going to?"
(Wife doesn't realize this is just a dig at her husband to get him to share their prayer requests. They don't expect anything from her, it seems, but she starts to talk. After a while, Man1 cuts her off by directed a direct question to [husband] again, using his name so he'll know he's the one we want to hear from.)
Man2: It's always good to see you, [wife], and I guess we'll put up with [husband] if we have to.
(Laughter from everyone but me.)
Isn't there just something wrong with this kind of thing? To put women on a pedestal with empty compliments, then sideline them? Seems so dehumanizing.
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Just to show I still have a sense of humor about all this (or maybe that I'm just as guilty), let me recommend this article I found truly hilarious: Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained for Ministry.