As those of you who follow my blog have come to understand, I am in a crisis. My son has recently experienced his first psychosis with schizophrenia and has now been incarcerated over it. Behind this seemingly insurmountable “issue” there are other issues I am dealing with. Trying to finish up a Bachelor’s Degree by May, financial burdens, and raising two teenage boys without little support. I am also feeling an extreme emptiness over my daughter moving out on her own last Summer. It seems as if “stress” isn’t a big enough word to describe the amount of pressure I find myself dealing with every day.
I surround myself with women who are “like” me. Most of my female friends are what the world calls “strong” women. I for one, hate that word used as an adjective, because I know how misleading and damaging it is to the one labeled with it. Many mornings I don’t want to get out of bed, too exhausted from wrestling with my thoughts and burdens all night long. Some days on the way to feed the horses I will break down in uncontrollable tears until my body literally shakes. But because I am a “strong woman” I won’t find too many people who are there for me in my deepest times of need because they all assume I have it covered just fine.
That is the curse of the strong woman.
I recieved a message on Facebook today that had a Meme in it that read “a strong woman may have tears in her eyes but she still has the strength to say “I’m OK” – and it really got under my skin. Because I KNOW the truth about me, I am not a strong person, I am a person who has learned to lean on the Lord. He has been the only person who has ever loved me and stuck by my side when the river of life got deep. I’m a cowgirl, there is a saying amongst people like me used when you are seeking a partner in life, you say you want someone to “ride the river with you.” That means someone who you can trust with your life.
People will fail you, and they tend to do so, right at the very moment you need them most. I’ve learned to not depend on people, as have most of the so-called “strong” women I know. Now this isn’t from a bitter heart that I write, but more from a lifetime of observation and experience. I hold no grudges, people were never built to be the one that saves you, that was not in their specs for assembly. Only God has that power & that strength to be your Savior. So now when I hear that, I cringe, honestly I don’t like the label at all. To me it feels like a life sentence of solitary suffering. An excuse for others to not check on you or call. An alibi of sorts, by which they can with a clear conscience, slip off into the la-la land of indifference towards you.
In a nutshell I hate being called a “strong woman.”
In a day and age where women fight for the right to be hard, I want to be soft. I want to admit life hurts, that I do cry, and sometimes I fall apart. I want to tell someone “No! I’m not OK!” and it be as admirable as saying “I’m OK” even when it is only a lie. I learned early on to just lean into the Lord. So many nights I have prayed for comfort in his arms. Every tear I have ever cried he has witnessed. Every situation I found myself in where I was overwhelmed or confused, it has never been by my own strength or resolve that I has carried me through, only by the grace of God and His strength have I survived. I liken myself to a piss ant taking down an elephant at times and only by a miraculous infusion of a power outside of myself would I ever have made it this far.
I think its time to stop pretending. To embrace the weaknesses we have and say, hey its OK not to be OK. I’m checking out of that new female standard that says somehow we need to look like a supermodel, have the mind of a neurosurgeon, keep house like Better Homes & Gardens feature spread, cook like a French Chef, raise kids like we have a double major in child psychology and pediatric medicine, PLUS be the ultimate sports mom, fund raising, facebooking, scrapbook making, got the whole world under control, look at my pearly white smile – fraud.
My life is not in order, my house is often a mess, my kids do sports but I don’t make every game or practice, I try to look presentable but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes I am socially awkward, I don’t have it all figured out, and honestly I don’t even want to. My bills are sometimes late, I am a Christian but I still worry at times, feel less than forgiven, and struggle with trusting God all the time. I often repent for that, and have to learn tat things I have given to God should not be re-picked up by myself – repeatedly. I am a human being, a mess of a human being at times, depending on the circumstances of the day, which we are also told is a no-no as a woman of faith. Can I just be a real woman of faith? The one that needs Gods grace in copious amounts on the daily? Is that OK or am I also supposed to “fake it till I make it” with God too? I have a good deal of peace as well, my life is not all bad all of the time, I feel blessed often. But I’m not a “strong woman” and the older I get the less I seem to covet that title. I can openly admit that.
I want to be a “strong in the Lord” woman.