That there be no Bird-Brained Women in our Streets

It was a good speech, heartfelt and honest, in which a pastor spoke about the demands of pastoring and leading. He read an excerpt from a troubled young woman who was sharing her story. She told of her pastor and his wife meeting her to talk. The young woman quickly changed and avoided a subject that her pastor brought up. She wrote that the man realized what the girl was doing, but “the bird-brained wife didn’t know what happened.”

That sentence arrested me and made me angry enough that I couldn’t concentrate much on the rest of the talk. In my interaction with young women, hearing their stories, and seeing how many fall through the cracks, I am angry if an older woman cannot follow a young woman’s conversation well enough to see when she is carefully avoiding talking about needs to be talked about.

Granted, the girl may have misread the wife. Maybe the lady was tabling the issue, intending to bring it up again at a more opportune time. I hope she was.

But I say to anyone who will listen–especially women!–Life consists of far more than the space around the house and garden, the computer and shopping mall. There are bigger priorities to hold than comfort and pleasure, peers and reputation. Among the greater priorities should be young women who are fragile, tentative, searching. When these young women are neglected at the cost of pursuing lesser things, and/or taught the same values the older ones hold, the results are ugly and tragic. This is what makes me angry. And all of us are responsible, not only pastors’ wives.

(While I know that anger is not a good place to work from, it can give the impetus to work toward changing whatever triggers the anger. When God keeps anger from poisoning and embittering me, it is part of His miracle of redeeming the things I’m angry at.)

Bird-brained is not so much about intelligence but about “looking at life with raised eyebrows,” asking questions, taking interest in people and ideas, acknowledging that I am not the center of the world. (My gifted friend, Jewel, writes about this kind of intentional living more eloquently in this blog post.)

As for me, I have a complex about my own lack of academic intelligence; all my family members can out-wit me and reason and argue more logically than I. I wish I had a higher IQ, but I am not holding up intelligence as the answer to the world’s ills. What I am saying is that we need an alertness, an awareness, a constant sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness in order to expand our world and offer ourselves and what we have to the ones coming along beside us. This is more than intellectual prowess; it is about a Spirit-led sensitivity to what others are feeling and needing.

Is that too much to dream for?

10 thoughts on “That there be no Bird-Brained Women in our Streets

  1. Anita, I don’t know how to concur heartily enough.

    “When these young women are neglected at the cost of pursuing lesser things, and/or taught the same values the older ones hold, the results are ugly and tragic.”
    How can someone teach values different from the ones she lives by?

  2. Anita, I feel your burden! I am privileged to know several women who “look at the world with raised eyebrows”, as you so aptly articulated… but I also know both men AND women who foster a cultural climate discouraging to women’s pursuing a broader scope of vision in life. Even as a young woman, I want to both live and encourage a deeper texture of living…

  3. Good thoughts! One thing I would add is that there are different types of intelligence. For instance some people are highly intelligent but not very smart. Ie they have low intelligence in the ability to function in the real world, their intelligence centres on book knowledge. There is also emotional intelligence, that ability to empathize with others, to recognise pain, happiness etc in those we come into contact with. Seems to me you can have all the brain intelligence in the world but you’re not much good to others or to God if you lack emotional intelligence.

    • Glad you brought it up. I had emotional intelligence in mind as being most needed, but I didn’t put it in those words.

  4. To your last question:
    it is absolutely not too much to dream for! The world Needs this kind of people so much! And God is so willing to make them! if we are willing to be changed.

  5. Sometimes I feel angry and frustrated as I look at around at the women who should be there, but aren’t, for the ones coming behind them who need hope and help. Sometimes I feel compassion for them. I know and love women who could fit your description, who have spent most of their lives trying to keep their world safe and comfortable and under control– and have done a pretty good job of it. It’s all they’ve known, and if they ever had hope for something more they long ago stuffed it away as an unlikely dream. The people who should have been there for them weren’t and now they have nothing to give those who follow them. Can we love them, too? There are some of them who feel stirrings of longing, some of them who are terrified and hoping someone will reach behind their mask and touch their heart, Some of them who have just a little hope that there is something more out there, something more for them.

  6. I think sometimes the older women would love to be there for younger ones, but simply don’t know about the needs, not because they are dumb, but because the younger ladies are so good at hiding their problems. Often in my growing up years, I wished for support and counsel from older, wiser ladies. However, I never asked for it, subconsciously thinking that others should pursue ME. Now I am beginning to realize that sometimes all it takes is humbly asking for advice and help! I agree with your post…I wish I would be better at seeking out the needs of others. To communicate effectively, though, requires both parties to participate.

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