I once was weak, but now am strong. I have been strengthened in Him. I have made my bad choices, I have lived with the consequences, as did the generations of women before me. I know my heritage. We have done what we needed to do and were who we needed to be. We have lived with the abuse, the fear, the terror, the burdens, and somehow, we have all stood firm to come to today. I draw on my heritage. I draw on my mothers in biology, in spirit, in faith, and in history. They have ran my race; and I now run theirs. We were once weak, and now we are strong. We are strong because we have to be; because God has made us to be strong.
I draw on my heritage; on my spiritual mothers: Deborah, Mary, Esther, Vashti, Ruth, Naomi, Abigail, Junia, Apphia, Photini, Sarah, the woman with the issue of blood, Salome, Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, Jael, Hannah, the daughters of Job, Lois, Eunice, Priscilla, Jepthah’s daughter, the daughters of Zelophehad, Eve, Rebecca, Anna, the daughters of Philip, and the many others who are our matriarchs in the faith. We have our role models. Society has sanitized them and made them nothing more than slaves to men, but they were so much more than that. They belonged to God, not to men. They were strong because they had to be. They had to confront their times and their lives. They brought change and challenge. They were strong because God made them that way. They were unashamed of the strength God gave them. I stand unashamed of the strength God gave me.
I know my voice. I know my Father’s voice. I am His, and He is mine. In Him, I have the strength that I need to speak the words He gives to me. I am free to speak my mind. I do not need to apologize for being strong. I do not need to apologize for speaking my mind.
I am not always sweet. As a strong woman, people may never see me as sweet…and that is fine with me. People want me to be sweet. Men want me to be sweet. Men want me to be “nice.” They want me to sit down and be quiet. They do not want to be challenged, to be confronted, they want me to be silent unless it is to praise what they do. I am not sweet. I do not placate. I am strong and I tell it like it is. I do not always speak perfectly, but I always speak truthfully. Truth is not always sweet, nor is it nice, but it sets us free. To be strong, I had to accept the truth about myself. I had to accept my limitations, my excellings, who I was, and who I wanted to be. In doing so, it set me free so I could stand strong.
When I say you were disrespectful, it is because you were disrespectful…it is not because I was “emotionally hurt” by someone else. When I talk to you, I am talking to you. I am not talking to my father, my ex boyfriend, my ex husband, my husband, my brother, my mother, my sister, my friend, or anyone else in my life. I do not need to be patronized. I know the difference between concern and condescending. I didn’t once, but I do now, because now I am strong. Some days we need a hug, some days we need to talk, some days we need to be left alone. I know how I feel; I don’t need to be told how to feel. Strong women feel and go through and most of the world never knows because they keep going and keep getting stronger.
I am in touch with myself and my tastes. I know who I am in Christ. With Him living in me, I am holy. Holiness is not how I wear my hair, how long my skirt is, what color my dress is, whether or not I wear pants, whether or not I wear make-up, whether or not I dye my hair, whether or not I can drive a car, what my last name is, whose house I live in, whether or not I wear jewelry, whether or not I have a job, whether or not I am married or have children; holiness is who I am in Christ.
I am lonely at times, but never alone. Eagles fly alone, and we must sometimes make decisions that mean we stand alone, too. Strong women pay the price of non-dependency; we are free, but live in a bound world. Worldly relationships are built on dependencies and needs and people needing each other, rather than choosing each other. I choose who is in my life; I choose to love those who are around me, and receive love in return. I do not need a relationship to validate my existence, because my relationship with God already does that for me. I am empowered by the Holy Spirit, God working in my experience, both spiritual and practical.
I am at peace with who I am. I spent years trying to be what others called me to be or what they thought I should be. I am not what others think I am; I am what God thinks I am. That makes me different. I don’t fit in a box; I am not always neat; I do not always color in the lines. I did not always understand. It is not always comfortable to be different. People do not always agree; they do not always respect; they do not always understand. But this is who I am. It has taken me a long time for me to get here. No matter what you may think of me, I cannot change for another person.
I am an example. The Lord has set me as a sign to others of what can happen when we are in Him. I am not where I used to be anymore. I am not that person. I remember her, I felt her pain, I lived with her hurts and her fears, but I am not her now. I am a new creature because He has made me new, and I am in Him.
I am strong for a purpose. I cannot be like everyone else, which is why He has made me strong. In my strength, I sing the Lord’s song and rejoice in His battle cry. The cycle goes on as I continue in Him; from my strength, other women know too that God calls them to be strong.
(C) 2011 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.