My entire adult life, I have been married and a mother. I had to mature very quickly in order to fulfill my role as mother and wife. I remember when I was a child, I wanted to hurry up and become a grown woman. I didn’t know that it would come so soon.
However, when the time came, I stepped into my shoes as mother and wife. I did my best in everything and I learned how to be strong. Over time, being strong began to take a toll on me.
My friends seemed to think that I didn’t need encouragement or a helping hand because, I was always doing those things for them.
It wasn’t that I didn’t need it. It was something completely different.
When I was in the first year of my marriage and had just had my son, I had an encounter. This encounter would begin to shape my life for years and I didn’t understand why until recently.
At this vulnerable and very impressionable stage in my life, I turned to a minister that I thought could help me. I thought he would lead my husband and I, as we traveled the road of learning to be great parents and spouses. In my heart, I longed for a word that would show us how to walk with God and with one another.
This leader would speak into my life at various points. I remember going to him because I had found that I was different from my peers at the time. They were all single and doing things that 20 year olds do. However, I was a mother and a wife. I was in the military and I owned my own home. I had more in common with the 30 and 40-year-old women, than I did with the women that were my age. His advice to me was simple. He said show yourself friendly. If you want a friend be a friend.
That is exactly what I did. I was there for people as I had wanted them to be there for me, but when I needed them, they were not there.
I have to admit that their unavailability, allow God to be there for me more and more. However, I began to build up this aspect of myself that had to be strong because if I became weak, no one would be able to help my friends and my friends wouldn’t be able to help me.
I couldn’t understand why thing were this way, but I never gave it any thought until one day. My family and I were over 2,500 miles away in a new state. I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. I started thinking about all of my relationships and my desire to have people in my life that genuinely cared for me as much as I did for them. I saw that when I was strong and helpful, people clung to me. However, I also began to realize that those types of relationships were not healthy for myself of my friends, so I began to make some changes.
When my friends would call, I would listen more. When they awaited my answer to their problem, I asked them questions about what they were going to do.
At the time I was also going through some training as a Rehabilitation Counselor and I was learning that there is power is asking questions that are not leading. I started telling myself that in order to truly build up my friends, I had to back off and allow God to do His work through the Holy Spirit in their lives. I could not solve everything for them.
I stopped answering the phone at 2 o’clock in the morning and worrying about how they were going to fix their lives. Instead, I fell on my knees and I prayed for them.
When I wasn’t able to handle their lack of desire to do and be better, I said so and then asked them what they wanted me to do to help them. If their expectations where what I could handle, I did it. If they weren’t, I simply stated this. I had to make sure that my friends understood that I was being strong for them, but in another way. I was setting some healthy boundaries.
Do you know what happened?
My friends started to grow up. They no longer expected me to be strong and they began to make better choices in their own lives.
Thinking on this helped me to realize that so many women are always trying to be strong. We are strong because it is always projected that in order to be great you have to be the stronger one.
Why do we fight it?
In our society, it is never encouraged to be the weaker vessel. Why?
They say that only the strong survive. They also tell us that what we want, is to survive.
Well, I want to challenge that thought. I want to thrive. Not only do I want to thrive, but I want to live because I am alive. I am not dead and avoiding death is not the sole purpose of my life.
This is why so many women have trouble submitting to their husbands. They feel that if they submit, it means that they are weak.
YES!!! It does. It means that you and I are the weaker vessel in our marriages. We should be proud of that fact. What woman, honestly, wants to be married to a man that is weaker than she is? He could not protect her or their family. She would have to do it all.
If we are to be honest, in order to thrive as a married couple…be prosperous and develop well, as a married couple, we all have to love each other well.
Do you know that it wasn’t until I took this stand in ALL of my relationships that my quality of life began to improve.
Here are the 5 things that I learned.
1. Always being strong drains you
I found that being strong left me with little energy. I had to be strong enough to listen to people’s problems and to solve them. I had to be strong enough to take what they threw my way and not flinch. I had to always be ready. This was tiring.
2. If you are always strong, you leave no power for God’s strength
You have probably heard this before, but I am going to tell you again. God has given us strength for this life, but He also knows that there will be specific points, where He will need to be strong for us. These times allow Him to show us how much He cares for us.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 2:10
Yet when we cover up our weakness and pretend to be strong through it all, we leave no room for Him to be God in our lives. In our strength, we tell Him, “I don’t need You to be strong for me.”
3. Being strong all of the time tells everyone else in your world that you don’t need them
Just like our strength communicates to God that we don’t need Him, other people in our lives begin to receive the same message. They feel that they are not strong enough to help us because we have it all taken care of. We make them think that we are super human, when in reality, we struggle just like they do.
4. Always being strong can lead to pride and pride leads to a fall
When we are always strong, we can begin to fool ourselves in to thinking that we don’t need anyone. We feel that no one is capable of helping us and with this, pride begins to move into our lives. Pride can be very dangerous because it takes away our ability to see all of the needs that we have. The only way for us to recognize those needs is for something to happen, the fall…
5. It might be someone’s else turn
Have you ever thought that perhaps your strength was standing in the way of someone else being strong? I didn’t until it happened to me. I had a friend that was really strong. She was so strong that she would not let me help her. I had never been that way, but her actions caused me to wonder if my other friends had perceived me as such. I waited a while for an opportunity to show her how much I cherished our friendship, but that opportunity never arrived. I had asked to help and volunteered, but she never would take any type of help, encouragement, or friendly gesture of caring through gifts.
This relationship showed me that sometimes it’s just not our turn to be strong. It might be someone else’s turn to be strong and we need to back off. From then on, I wanted to do my best to allow my friends to be strong for me and I would continue to do the same thing, when needed.
If you don’t get anything else out of this, I want you to know that you don’t have to do it all or be it all to everyone. All you have to do is be you and give this life all that you’ve got. Your strength is not who you are. It is a quality that you possess. It also does not define you. You are so much more than one word, strong. There is great value in you, but in order for you to see it, you’re going to have to step out of your own strength and into God’s strength. There is a time and place for everything. Just know that when you decide you don’t want to be strong, there is still greatness in you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave me a comment below or better yet, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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