The Age of Exploration

May 4, 2015

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I watch my daughter take the books off the shelf, one by one. She studies each as she lays it aside, unconcerned by the pile that is accumulating around her feet. She then crawls over the pile and notices the clothes in the closet. One by one, she begins to take each item off the shelf, this time
throwing it on the floor.

At just 18 months, I’ve realized my daughter is constantly learning, searching, and looking at things that are new to her. She's unaware of the mess that she makes everywhere her little feet will toddle her, concerned only to find what is new and different.

She is constantly exploring. And as I lay on the floor exhausted, just watching the wheels in her little brain turn as she goes from one thing to the next, I realize that she's experiencing an age of exploration. I think about the peace in our home and how so many in our country are experiencing something quite different tonight. I think about the unrest I read about, the anger, as well as those reaching out in peace, and the conversations being had about race and class and country. History and present reality.

In many ways, I feel inept to even broach such a topic. A white woman who grew up in a small town in Minnesota, who understands little of what it is to live other places, to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin.

And then I’m reminded of a question a young woman I am friends with asked on Facebook about gender equality and what people thought about women’s rights in this country. I shook my head as I read the comments, mostly from men, who stated their opinions on women’s equality -- equal pay, job opportunities, women’s rights -- today versus years ago. I thought about how I didn’t respond, how I remained quiet. Not because I agreed with what these men said, although most comments were innocent enough, albeit naive, but how responding felt like it would take more energy than I had at the time.

Yet days later, I’m still pondering her question, wondering if these men realize that at the heart of gender equality lies something much more personal to me than just pay and job equality. The ways  it plays into how often I think about things like where I park when I’m alone, especially after dark. How often I have my keys in hand, aware of my surroundings and who may be in the shadows. How I check and double check doors and windows at night, making sure they’re securely locked. How I can’t remember when I started doing these things, so ingrained in my being now that I do them unconsciously, but always rooted in the fact that I am a woman.

I think about how there is so much more to gender equality than what appears on the surface, issues that seemingly have been "solved" by new legislation and laws. The fact that I am a woman continues to impact decisions I make, sometimes on a daily basis. In spite of the fact that I am an educated, married, financially-stable adult—all things allotted me by the wonderful advancements in legislation this country has afforded me, which I am grateful for—all of those advancements can’t negate the fact that I still won’t walk in certain areas of town after dark alone. They don’t change the fact that I will teach my daughters to be aware of the same things that I am, not because we live our lives in fear, but because being safe is still something as a woman I need to account for and acknowledge.

And I wonder if this isn’t some of what my black counterparts experience when they talk about race?

I wonder if, because it’s not my experience, it makes it easier to dismiss?

I think again about my youngest daughter and how she loves— almost lives— to explore. When did I stop living like that? When did I stop questioning, searching, listening?

When did my own age of exploration end?

I’m not quite sure, but I do know I’d like to start again. I’d like to start listening and attempting to understand. Just like my toddler, I may fumble and fodder a bit, but I’d still like to try.

Hands open. Heart open.

Ready to explore. Ready to hear. Ready to listen.

Make A Difference Mondays is a weekly linkup designed to encourage and inspire us to live each day on purpose—making a meaningful difference in someone’s life in even the smallest of ways. Five women regularly co-host this link-up. Read on to learn more about the vision, mission, and how to link up!

Mission: Our mission is to provide a consistent gathering place for like-minded women to build online connections, share inspiration, and provide mutual encouragement and accountability as we seek to live intentionally and make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Vision: Every Monday we invite bloggers to link up any blog posts that encourage women to live life on purpose, including testimonies or goals from your own life, small acts of kindness or service, creative tips or ideas for showing consideration to others — the possibilities are endless. Our objective is to use our God-given time and resources to his glory! 

Also, just a heads-up: the Make A Difference Mondays team has created a Facebook community group to stay in touch beyond the blog posts AND we also have a new #MADMlinkup group Pinterest board: Make A Difference Mondays Pinterest Board.


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1 comment

  1. Really liked this. I so agree with you that the gender inequality thing for me comes down to living in a violence-against-women world. That was a great point. I often ponder this as well, almost feeling guilty for the safety we know in our life, country, and home: "I think about the peace in our home and how so many in our country are experiencing something quite different tonight." Blessings to you from "Espressos of Faith" via #MakeaDifferenceMondays!