Things I’m thankful for this year:
1. A washer and dryer in my apartment.
2. The praise band at my church that takes our services to the next level and connects the congregation to the Holy Spirit.
3. Heated seats in my car.
4. Cable TV that comes with On Demand service for USA and History channel, even though I only have basic channels. Yay for Burn Notice, Covert Affairs and Ancient Aliens.
5. KLOVE radio, which helps me worship God during my commute.
6. Words with Friends, which keeps me busy even when I pee.
7. $10 spray tans that take me from cute to almost hot.
8. My aunt and uncle coming up from New Orleans to visit and then getting just as excited as I do about Black Friday shopping.
9. All the hours in the car I spend with my little sister Monica listening to Christian music and talking about life.
10. All the times my mom saves me from the brink of any of the following: Going bankrupt, total depression, car accidents.
11. My dad’s pending wedding. Yay for him for finding love.
12. My brothers coming up for Thanksgiving and finally being able to stay for Black Friday.
13. A job that lets me work from home two days a week, and keeps me stocked with delicious candy at all times and also sends me on trips to fun places like Orlando.
14. Eric Jensen’s true commitment to the Crossroads UMC youth group, and his ability to work with me even when I’m super stressed and a little bit crazy.
15. Jesus Calling, a devotional by missionary Sarah Young that helps me start my day connected to God.
16. Pastor Wes, for, among other things, leading an intense Disciple class that is truly giving me a stronger understanding of God’s word.
17. Adele, for singing to my soul.
18. All the youth at Crossroads who keep showing up every week.
19. A free couch that turned my house into a home.
20. Youth Works, for changing the lives of everyone who goes on their mission trips.
21. My first Thanksgiving as a meat eater in about 10 years.
In college, the married man who sat across from me at the student newspaper would make unwelcome comments about how I should be a model, and how pretty my eyes were and just how dang good I looked in blue. And then he would constantly stare at me, for inappropriately long amounts of times.
Then, in grad school, a security guard at the state capitol building decided he liked me. He would come up to me every day and ask me for my phone number, or ask me on a date. Every day. And going to my internship at the best building in Illinois suddenly made me want to throw up as I tried to avoid him while going through security. Every. Day.
Then, at a newspaper job I had after college, I was just one of the 20-something women who had to endure being hit on by a married editor at the newspaper. And one night, the two of us ended up in a car alone together, because he was drunk and convinced me he needed a ride, and then he tried to kiss me and then the next day, I had to work with him like nothing had ever happened. Which I did, because saying something would have been worse. I knew that much.
All of those incidents left marks on my weak heart. They made me feel like an object in the purest sense of the word. And they led me to believe that women were not equals. Not even close.
I understand that men don’t always know they’re being inappropriate.
I understand that women like to be hit on.
I understand that people think being hit on too much is a “good problem” and that women should just brush it off.
But I also understand how sick to your stomach it makes you feel when you realize that politely saying no to someone’s advances is being ignored — or worse, that a polite advance has suddenly become less-than-polite without warning.
I understand that sexual harassment is not about a women’s ability to properly take a dirty joke or their ability to just be flattered for goodness sake.
I understand that as long as people believe its a fake problem, or a good problem, or a crazy problem, nothing will change.
I understand it because I’ve lived it.
I also understand that reporting it is awful and full of aftermath that leaves everyone, especially myself, wishing I had just kept my mouth shut. And that any women who decides to do so is brave and amazing and should be respected.
So while all the controversy around Herman Cain is in the air, and people are saying things like, “Well, that there is a troubled woman,” I implore you to take this opportunity to remember the women you love, and how you want them to be treated in such cases.
Because, your mom or your sister or your daughter probably feels like throwing up or crying or screaming every time they have to pass by that one guy’s desk or go down that one hallway where he works.
They are probably praying every night that he’ll quit or get fired, and they’re probably starting to find a way to quit themselves.
They’re probably wishing they could fix things without first making a huge mess.
They’re probably looking for someone to save them.
And — most likely — nobody is doing anything about it.