I was raised by a Salty Woman. The term “Salty” can have a negative connotation, but I’ve learned that being salty can mean being a protector and preserver. I was also conditioned throughout my life and even in some churches that my personality should be muted, diluted, compliant, and subservient. Otherwise I was an outspoken “bad girl or woman”. I happily volunteer my head-shot for that poster if needed.
Adding to the conflicts that I have faced in struggling with how outspoken I should be as a follower of Christ, my past abuse led me to believe wrong stories about myself, undermining my self-confidence and voice for many, many years. I thank Jesus for setting me straight.
Now, back to being salty. My definition of one attribute of saltiness is the ability to speak out and up on important issues. It’s having the confidence and backbone to voice your opinion and make a stand at the right time. I believe in civility, and don’t need to dominate conversations. No one would listen to a bore, but for many women, speaking out is difficult because of our training. Many have been educated in remaining silent. I’m so grateful that young women today are more vocal!
But sometimes an extra heaping of saltiness (maybe a twenty-pound slab of Pink Himalayan salt), is needed when someone crosses a line, especially when they are hurting others who can’t speak up for themselves. That’s an entirely different situation and saltiness is required.
During one family vacation, we stayed in a favorite beach hotel, and soaked up the sky and sea together, treasuring our precious time. The girls were young adults, so getting the four of our schedules coordinated was a little miracle itself, and we savored each moment.
One evening, we invited wonderful family friends who lived nearby to meet us for drinks and snacks on the property. They also had two children who were our girl’s friends, and the evening began delightfully. As night fell, we sat around a fire pit, roasting marshmallows. We parents were in deep conversation on life’s challenges and laughing at some absurd memories of our epic fails.
While we were huddled together, an older man in his 70’s slinked over to our lounge area and began talking with the girls who were off to our right. I watched him through the corner of my eye, but couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but my senses were alerted. He was lingering which I wasn’t comfortable with. The girls later divulged that he said that they were pretty, and wouldn’t leave them alone.
As a survivor of abuse, an old man hanging around a group of young girls is a massive red flag. I wonder now why we tolerated it? I learned that he asked them if he was being obnoxious, and thankfully one of my salty daughters replied, “Yes you are, please leave.” But he took his time dragging his rumpled self back to the shadows from whence he came.
Afterwards, the girls told us that even though we were right there, they felt cornered by him. It may not seem like much to you, but that is a feeling of powerlessness that I understand too well.
I was angry at myself and all of us adults for ignoring this leech and letting him steal a happy, pure moment from the girls. Who invited him and why did he feel entitled to hover over them? Why didn’t we say something?
The next morning, the girls headed to the pool while we finished breakfast. They went to enjoy the beautiful sky, inhale the sweet breezes, and laugh over shared stories in private, like sisters do, when the leech returned. Moments later, my phone buzzed with a text, “Mom, he’s back and won’t leave us alone!” My anger quickly erupted, and I replied, “On my way!”
I snatched up my bathing suit and bag and burst out the door. My steps were long, brisk, and intentional.
In about five minutes and after another text, I arrived to find the girls on their lounges with him laying next to them, and their faces were serious. I have been in their places so many times in my life, feeling sickened and wishing the creepiness would leave, wondering if I could ever be out anywhere without losing my sense of ease, my comfort in my body, or would another creep rob me of my peace.
He lay tightly next to my girls, staring at their bodies. I wanted to yank him up from his skin and wrench him across the pool deck. Adrenaline rushing through me, and blood pounding in my veins, I was breathing to stay in control.
I stared at the three of them and said, “Girls, let’s move”. Brazenly he asked me if he was being obnoxious, this is after the girls just told him that he was. “Yes, you are, as you were last night, and I will say this as kindly as I can because I am a Christian woman (looking back, there was no need for kindness), that yes, you have made these young women so uncomfortable that they now need to move away from their pleasant spot that you invaded.”
He was silent. I drove on, “You need to consider your behavior going forward because you were told that you weren’t welcome and yet you disrespected what these young women said, so now they need to relocate because of you!” Even as the words tumbled from my throbbing lips, I knew that I should have told him to leave our space, he was the unwelcome one, but of course, he didn’t care.
He offered some greasy excuse about being drunk the other night, preventing him from seeing how young they were, as if that mattered to him, because in daylight it was obvious. I told him they were in high school (I lied), he seemed to like that because he was a pervert. Then he said he was leaving in the morning, as if we should tolerate his harassment a few hours more. He must consider staking young girls a part of his ideal vacation package. I spit next to his lounge and stated, “that’s unimportant to me, consider your future behavior and steer clear of my girls.”
We picked up our things and strode off. The girls were relieved and proud of how I handled him, so we threw a little party for ourselves in the pool listening to a Beyonce playlist to excoriate the memory. But I let them know that I not only wanted to protect them, but also all of the other girls and women who have felt trapped and weak, powerless, and couldn’t speak for fear of backlash, job loss, or violence. And I encouraged them to strengthen their voices like a muscle in training, flexing it in advocacy for themselves and others in need.
Looking back, I would have handled that scene differently. I would be saltier today, I’m only a few years older but ages wiser, and I didn’t owe him an atom of respect. I would be caustic. I would demand he leave us to OUR space. And I would certainly tell management that an old man was creeping on young women at the hotel. Most likely he is habitual, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be his victim.
Jesus calls us to be the “Salt of the Earth”; salt flavors, protects, heals, and preserves. When we believers are aware of injustice, we must be the salt, and step in to preserve justice. When we witness voiceless people being mistreated, we must be the salt, and protect them with OUR voices.
And remember to be salty for yourself as well, you may find it challenging to advocate for yourself, but you must. You must love yourself, because you are made by God in His image and are God’s beloved. This awareness saved me when I was young. I learned from The Word that I wasn’t born to be a victim, and I could reclaim my life in a New identity through Christ. I still must be reminded of this profound truth from time to time. We were not created to suffer but to live and live abundantly!
So, three cheers to the Salty Women in our lives who led the way for us and who inspire us! May you know one, may you be one, and may you stay salty!
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. Matthew 10:10
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14