Don’t get me wrong, we are strong. We can own that truth. There’s no questioning it. Despite enduring hardship for centuries, we still stand. We’ve had our opinions stifled and our voices silenced, yet, we keep on going. We fight for our rights despite the fierce opposition trying to stop us from laying hold of the things we desire. We’re the only ones who can feel pain worse than a heart attack for an entire week and continue our lives as normal. And we’re definitely the only ones who can, as co-creators with God, birth life into the world.
But, something about society’s idea of strength is unsettling…
Clearly, God placed great strength within us at creation. But, when I look at what’s trending about strong women, I feel a bit unsettled. I wonder if we’re being held to a standard we weren’t meant to live up to. Does being a strong woman mean that there’s no room for our tears, our pain, or our weaknesses? Are we supposed to push reality away and be strong all the time?
I don’t think so. We can be strong and human at the same time. Jesus is the perfect example of this. He was fully God and fully man. Yet, he cried. No, he wept at the loss of his friend. Then, a few days later, in his divinity, he resurrected the man from his grave. Society, on the other hand, pushes us to be stronger, better, and faster than the next person. She’s a girl boss who works 60+ hours a week so maybe I should be too. Maybe I have to sacrifice my sleep, my health or even quality time with my friends and family. But, I need to live up to what society requires of me. No, you don’t.
Truth is, you only need to live up to one standard.
You only have to live up to Jesus’ standard for you. And he said, “Take my yoke upon you… my yoke is easy, my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) He’s the only one who won’t put that kind of pressure on you. Actually, in our weakness, his strength is perfect. When I admit that I can’t do it all on my own, he steps in and helps me. See, I need a support system with God at the head and friends and family surrounding me. I might be able to keep up for a while relying on my own strength but eventually my reservoir will run empty. If God is my strength, I’ll never run dry.
I get it, I’m naturally inclined to do things on my own too. Growing up, I avoided asking for help. It was mostly because I didn’t want to bother anyone and I figured I could do it on my own. It worked for a while. But, soon, I began to face things that I couldn’t handle by myself. It became too much for me. I had to lay down the facade of strength and let people, and most importantly, God, in. And, that changed everything for me.
Maybe you have big responsibilities.
Maybe you have big responsibilities. You might be the daughter an entire family is relying on to find success and leave a legacy for the family. Maybe you’re a single mom with a son to nourish and raise into a good man. You could be a teacher with the heavy task of pouring good knowledge into your students. Maybe you’re a career woman working at a firm where there’s only one other woman besides you and you feel you need to prove to the men around you that you know how to do your job.
True strength comes from God.
I don’t know your exact situation but I understand. There’s so much pressure on us to be strong. But for just a moment, I want you to embrace your weakness because its the only thing that can lead you to true strength. A mask of perfection is not true strength. True strength comes from God and you only get it when you can admit you’re weak.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Shanté, you don’t know what will happen if I let my guard down.” That’s true. I don’t know exactly what will happen. But, I do know that if you give your cares to God, he will help you. He’ll clothe you in his strength and righteousness, despite the weakness you feel. He’ll even use you as a vessel to encourage other women around you. Truthfully, you never know what can happen when you let go of how you think things should be and let God in.
This month, know that we are strong and embrace all the wonderful achievements of strong women. But remember, you don’t always have to be strong. You can lay your burdens down and allow God to take them up. Remember, only weakness can lead us to true strength. God’s strength is far better than any we have on our own. And, honestly, being strong all the time is exhausting.