What is Strength?

What does strength look like?

Our culture today tells us that a strong man is demonstrated in toughness, never shedding a tear, never being vulnerable. It means a muscular body and bringing home the bacon. It means stern words, and never admitting wrongdoing. A strong man always knows best.

Being tough as a woman is working 40 hours a week in a ‘man’s world’ and rising to the top of the ladder of corporate success. It means never ever letting her man tell her what to do… it’s her way or the highway. It’s doing it all… that is what a strong woman is, right? There’s nothing a man can do that she can’t.

Where do these ideas come from? How do they permeate our lives at such a deep level?

These ideas are confusing the young people trying to grow up in an ever complex world. They are pitting man against woman. They are taking away each sex’s awesome uniqueness. They are leaving people empty in the core of their being as they fall short of the high expectations to do it all, to be it all, and to hide anything considered a weakness.

You know what I think is strength? Humility. Tenderness. Vulnerability. Honesty. Perseverance. Saying that you’re sorry. And embracing your uniqueness… not trying to be what THEY say you should be.

When your husband is mad and lashes out… choose humility. When you overrule your teenager with information you eventually find out was wrong… choose humility and honesty. When you feel overwhelmed… ask for help. Be vulnerable. Be tender. Stop tearing down others to protect yourself. I’ve heard a pastor say many times that relationship is more important than being right. What’s more important to you?

Those that follow the world’s definition of strength will no doubt find themselves divorced, without a close relationship with their kids, and no friends to call on in their darkest hour.

It’s not easy to be strong. It takes strength to be weak. Vulnerability leaves room to be hurt, but it also leaves room for relationship. Pride builds up walls, and prevents relationship. Proverbs tells us that when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. The wise book also says, “Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice”.

And lastly… don’t be confused by the cultural norms. Be proud to be a WOMAN! Be proud to be a MAN! Don’t be afraid! Don’t be silenced! Because you accept your sexuality as heterosexual, and that you classify yourself in the traditional norms of male or female, is not discriminatory… it is not WRONG!

I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman. I am proud that I have motherly instincts. I am proud that I can multitask. I am proud to give my husband a clean house, and I love to have dinner ready when the family is hungry. I am proud that sensitivity comes natural to me. And I’m proud that my husband is a man. I am proud that he feels a strong urge to financially support our family. I am proud of him that he takes priority in protecting this family. I love when he opens the door for me. I love that I feel safe in his embrace. I love that when something breaks, I know he will fix it. And I love when he opens up to me and shows me his heart; when he holds me when I cry. I think it’s more of a challenge for men to find that place in the middle, balancing the duties of a husband with sensitivity and vulnerability. If you are a wife… it is your job to make a safe place for your husband to be able to be that person. I can hear the feminist groups freaking out now!! Just keep in mind, these groups in the ’60’s also encouraged women to burn their bras. No thanks. I’ll keep my bras.

Those that stand with me may feel like we are a diminishing minority, but don’t be fooled. We are not. Those that contradict us, those that disagree with us, those that want to change our world to fit theirs have the media at their beck and call and are simply the loudest.

Be strong. Author and Poet, Criss Jami said it perfectly… “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable, is to show your strength”. Be humble. Be who you were created to be… that is strength.