Standing and Its Prepositions

Standing on/for/near/by/in/up to/in front of…

The actual thesis/lede/point should come first. I’ve taught and been reminded of that. Before the real point, however, today we will examine other adjacent points based on a single word: standing. It turns out to be more interesting than I thought. (The real point begins third paragraph from the last with “So…”)

Used by itself, “standing” has many meanings. Do you have any standing invitations? What is your team’s standing? At their game, did you stand at the drink stand (which your friend can’t stand doing) and stand a Coke for her since she also didn’t have her card? Is there standing water nearby (danger!)? In the theater, you may have gotten a standing ovation from a standing room only (SRO) crowd. It might even be your last name (very rare, #45312 in the US). This information and more! here. And here. What you won’t find is any particularly compelling root word; whether used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective, it’s popular.

This song got me thinking about the word: “Standing on the Promises.” Its history is explained briefly here. Russell Kelso Carter made a promise that he would consecrate his life to God, whether or not he was healed from a life-ending illness. (John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace,” had a similar occurrence when he cried out for deliverance during a storm at sea. When I visited St. Paul’s Cathedral in London one lovely Sunday spring morning to attend services, the ushers were dressed in white ties and tails, and the only hymn I remember was “Amazing Grace.”)

A second song comes to mind: “Stand By Me.” Most know it from the movie of the same name, but it has a longer history. Written in 1961 by Ben E. King, it was inspired by an older gospel song, “Stand By Me Father” by The Soul Stirrers. An even older spiritual named “Stand By Me” was copyrighted by Rev. Charles Tindley in 1905. The King song is secular because a “darlin’” instead of God is standing by him. But one version on YouTube has over 526 million views. This one, with the lyrics, has 13M. It’s been recorded in over 400 versions. (That’s not the record; Guinness gives that place to “Summertime,” by George Gershwin, over 67,000 versions. This one, by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, is great…sorry for the rabbit hole…again.)

Next, most of us want to “stand for” something. Are you honest? Loyal? Generous? All other good adjectives? Would you rather—or rather not—stand out?

What would you advise the younger ones to “stand back” from? Who would your “stand in” be?

So obviously this could go on forever. My point will now be this: Who is important enough to you that you would stand in front of them?

When I was little, my grandmother was protective of me. Not that my parents weren’t, but I don’t remember them in the same way. Riding in the car, for example, could turn dangerous if she needed to stop quickly. Her right arm flew out, hard, against my chest. It’s called “The mom arm.” You’ve seen the meme: unless you’re of a certain age, you’ve worn a seatbelt all your life, thank goodness. We didn’t.

Cars aside, my grandmother would sometimes talk about killing someone who was trying to get us kids. Sounds no less odd now than it did then. That’s not mom arm; that’s MamaBear. I believed her. If an intruder came for us, he was going to die.

I would stand between the boogie man my children and grandchildren. For one in particular, there would be a reality of actual, intentional, prejudiced harm. Without details, know that there is a real and present danger to one of mine. From the beginning, my response was “I am prepared to stand in front of this person if someone is threatening.” I have not done it physically yet, but I have done it verbally, more than once. The physical might be easier.

People not related? I was standing near someone in a grocery store recently. Age, race, gender, religion—none of these matter. I had the impression that I should be willing to stand between that person and harm. It’s one thing, and surely a good thing, to walk with someone. It’s good to stand with someone. Standing in front of them might take something more. All this is theoretical, and I hope I’d have the courage if the situation arose. When I began typing the word “courage,” the c didn’t take so we had the o. The autofill for that o is opportunity. Odd, that. One might make a poem of such things…

“The right hand knowing what the left is doing, for such a time as this.”

We aren’t encouraged to tell about our good deeds. In fact, they are to be done in secret (no trumpets announcing our glorious works) so that we can be rewarded openly. It’s where we get the phrase “the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing” when it was a good thing (Sermon on the Mount) and not now, usually, when it isn’t.

But there I am, with Tonya Stafford Manning, and a stepstool. She needed one, so I bought her one. When the women at church (Corsicana through Dallas) gathered up hundreds of new towel sets for her safe houses, we packed them in her car one Sunday afternoon. There was a single folding chair in the back seat. Somehow it came out that was what she stood on to change lights or adjust security cameras.  Since I am now my grandmother (You don’t have enough light to read! Make your bed! Don’t stand on that—you’ll break your neck!), I went to Costco where I bought her a Cosco brand step stool. It was delivered last night after her presentation on human trafficking.

Now, why “for such a time as this”? We just finished the book of Esther for Sunday school. I’ve read it, listened to it, heard three podcasts on it. So much I didn’t know or understand. The key lines have to do with her decision to approach the king in order to save her people. To protect him, this action is forbidden when uninvited unless he extends his scepter to the one who approaches. Esther, even as his queen, can’t break this law. Her people are in danger of annihilation, so her cousin Mordecai says to her, “…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a btime as this?” She finds her strength, she accepts that she may fail (“If I perish, I perish”), and off she goes.

So, I believe, Tonya is an Esther: a queen in her own time who has risked much, even her life, to save people. And it’s not just young women. Anyone can be a victim. Old, young, pretty or not, any race or gender or orientation. Here I interviewed her for another site and included links to sites and a documentary used for training Texas workers get about trafficking. The film Be the One starts at 5:30 and is well worth watching.

One young woman said she wanted to do just what Tonya is doing. Tonya’s answer was surprising: “No. You can do something better, something more. I could die tomorrow, but this has to go on.” It’s about love, after all. Esther didn’t want or seek death. She chose life and love. Loving these victims is not easy, for many reasons, but it will go on.

What else can be done? Lots. Her non-profit, It’s Going to Be OK, is privately funded. Accepting federal money means accepting federal rules, not an option for several reasons. So, yes, money. And towels. Panties. Time. The occasional step stool. The link includes information about the Hope and Pearls Gala, coming January 21, 2023, for the first time in a while…something about a pandemic, you know. It’s a massive effort that includes law enforcement at all levels, now Homeland Security, therapists, physicians, hospitals, courts. And Tonya, sitting with rescued victims at every stage—from a driveway in Cedar Hill to the grounds of the capitol in Austin where she launched House Bill 2290 designating January as Human Trafficking Month. Last night, she told us she’s now off to Nebraska.

Things are hard these days. The heat, the price of eggs, you name it. Most things you can’t affect at all. This is something you can. Protect yourself first (turn off open tracking on your phone) and speak frankly to others about the dangers of victimhood. It’s real. If not trafficking, then falling for some scam or another. A police chief when I worked with CPS said he’d learned there’s not a single thing one person won’t do to another. It’s real, but you can help. Tonya will let you know what to do.