What Strong Women Actually Look Like
The following is a blog I wrote for Mom-Sense a few weeks ago. I had great feedback from it so I wanted to share it with you today.
Scrolling through Facebook last night, I came across no less than 3 picture memes that all had to do with supposedly “strong women”. These kinds of sayings have been increasing in number over the last few months- at least across my feed. And it has been equally increasing my alarm when more and more of my dear Christian sisters are reposting them.
I’m talking specifically about pictures like this one that show the strongest women are those who no one knows what they’re going through, they are suffering in silence, they are fighting battles behind closed doors.
I admit, I have probably fallen prey to ‘liking’ or reposting these type of quotes in the distant past. But I am convicted that we are forwarding a fallacy… a lie of the devil.
A very clever, very understated lie- one that subtlety flatters our pride and aims to keep us sequestered from each other.
Oh my sisters! This is simply and unequivocally a lie straight from hell.
But it is a celebrated notion that we perpetuate!
Please stay with me here and let’s think this through.
First off, WHY on God’s green earth is it ever a good idea to suffer in silence? WHO among us wants to do that or enjoys it? It’s such a bizarre concept when you think about it!
WHAT is the advantage of being behind closed doors, by yourself, battling attacks alone? Have you ever heard of a single-person war? It makes no sense! More often than not, if we want to argue from the ‘battle/war’ standpoint… the army with the most people, the most practice, the latest weaponry… wins. I will put myself out there and venture that not a single battle has EVER been won by one person against many.
And yet, these quotes somehow seem to honor the women who do that. Their very existence is an online shout-out for those who supposedly are waging behind-the-scenes war.
(Which, as an aside, I GREATLY suspect that no one actually is alone. Unless there’s someone in a far corner of the earth, void of human existence waging some battle, I seriously doubt there’s actually anyone by themselves. And at that point, they have purposefully and intentionally sequestered themselves from help and support.)
But I digress…
We women like the idea that we are invincible, able to do it all, need no one’s help- you know, the whole “I am woman hear me roar” mentality? We like these quotes that we pass along as a subtle (read: passive aggressive or helpless martyr?) message to others… “Yes, I am one of these women… I am fighting the good fight behind closed doors and in back alleys, all by myself, all alone… without a word of encouragement or support. I am strong. I am able. I am capable of doing this on my own! You have no idea what I’m going through and what I’ve done.” You get the idea…
Wow! Do you hear the pride there? Do you see the hypocrisy?
Do you recognize the scheming of the Devil in this idea?
There are 2 main issues here I want us to look at –
The first is this prideful idea that we can do it all. That we are enough. Or at least we desperately try to convince ourselves of this. And yet scripture tells us over and over again that we can’t (and aren’t meant to!) be the end-all-be-all when things get rough. The Bible actually preaches the exact opposite! We are fallible, lacking, weak- in short, HUMAN. And that’s OKAY! Read that again…. It is okay to be ‘not enough’. In fact, we are wasting our energy if we even try, because we will never be. It is simply not an attainable thing. We’re treading dangerously into God-held territory to think we are able.
The second is the idea that we are going through things and under attacks that no one else has ever gone through and no one can possibly understand our unique situations. Therefore we must fight it along, because “no one will understand.” Wrong again dear one! If there is anything I’ve learned through the school of hard knocks (i.e. my sin and some major warfare I’ve been a part of over the years), it is that Satan loves to try to convince us that we are unique in our sin, in our hard circumstances, in the battles waging around us. This is simply NOT true! He may be fantastic at lying, but I’ve found he’s a bit lacking in creativity. The devil is all quantity and no quality. He uses the same lies over and over again. But they are super effective and we fall for the same ones time and time again. This lie is one of those- we’re unique in our situation… Satan THRIVES in our isolation! He will do all he can to separate us from the Body of Christ, from church, from our friends, our small group, our personal quiet times.
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book Helicopter Mom that I want to share with you. This is not intended to plug this book necessarily, but this particular section directly addresses what we’re talking about today. Clearly it is a message that God wants me to start bringing since these words were written 2 years ago now.
The chapter’s subject is about emergencies- both in the helicopter (for those that haven’t read my bio yet, which I’m very sure you all have 😉 , I’m a flight nurse by vocation…) and in real life woman-hood.
GET ON THE RADIO!
SOS, 7700, Mayday Mayday
The very last step in this whole emergency is to yell it out loud and clear. We need help and we need it stat, asap, 15 minutes ago, and right now! In helo operations, we get on the radio and start communicating with everyone. And I mean EV.VER.RY.ONE! We contact our dispatch, the aviation company dispatch, the nearest small airport frequency, the nearest big airport frequency, the nearest airport control tower, and even a general air-to-air mayday call. We bring in the cavalry!
You get the idea. We need help and we need everyone to know about it. There is no humiliation, no pride, no hesitation, no embarrassment, no stubbornness involved. We. Need. Help! We need the experts, we need air control, we need ground control, we need anybody and everybody who could possibly help us and we need them now. We need to give out as much pertinent information as possible to those who need it, as soon as possible.
Which, from a spiritual standpoint, is exactly the opposite of what Satan would like us to do. He likes to keep things in the dark, remember? He wants to keep secret fights, battles, scenarios that need spiritual reinforcements. And he will do whatever he needs to convince us that we do not need help and should not reach out. He thrives on our isolation.
So why the hesitation when we Christians face hard times? I don’t get it! This principle should apply to us in every emergency situation, should it not? The enemy will throw a million excuses at us, of every shape, color, and size, just to see what sticks: People won’t understand, they won’t care, we’re too busy, and it is too stressful to find the time to ask; the situation is too scary, too shameful, too embarrassing, too complicated. She will judge me. If I tell him this then he’ll wonder about that. They are too busy to listen to me. The church has bigger, more important things to worry about. The devil is not picky and will use whatever works, whatever you listen to that puts off calling a full-force SOS.
Too often Christians find themselves in dire straits, choppy waters, or downright F5 tornados (literally and metaphorically); too often Christians falter in asking for help when faced with these emergencies. When emergencies arise, whether it be with our kids, our spouses, our families, a friend, a church, whatever, we need support, backup, expert advice, and prayer. We need everybody who could possibly help us and we need them now. And yet so often we hesitate. We balk at giving out too much information, we stubbornly refuse help, we color at the potential shame of admitting that we even need help. Our pride will get us killed!
We moms are the worst! We have no problem anonymously trolling Internet sites about issues or seeking help, but when it comes to face-to-face interactions with others to ask for help, grieve, or get advice, we hesitate, we balk, we avoid. Especially during those dark days. Not good, gals. If we are needing emergency help, then we need emergency help, we need it now, and we cannot get it without telling others what is going on.
If you find yourself in the middle of that thing, you need help and you need it now. Call everyone you know who will pray for you, proclaim a 7700 from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your blog, your moms groups, your church, your friends, your family. Post it on flyers around town, if necessary. Get people on board, get them praying, get the help you need as soon as you need it. Do not be brave, do not be stubborn, do not be prideful. Be honest, be precise, be concise, be open, and let it all be known.
I have witnessed our battle’s devastation, bewilderment, and loss all too often. I would not wish that on anybody under any circumstances. But it happens, friends—not often, but too often. And I want us prepared for it if it does. I want us to be solidly rooted in Christ alone. I want God set as a firm foundation in our lives—starting right now, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, fully trained up, armored up, prayed up, and ears and eyes looking up—so that no time or energy is lost when those lights and alarms start blinking.
I hope my heart touches yours today. I am so alarmed by this culture of isolating ourselves- the very opposite of what we need to be doing… especially if we’re in the middle of a war. If you find yourself in this situation, I pray you reach out and call in reinforcements. If you are in a period of rest in your life, I pray you are keenly looking for opportunities to come alongside and be those reinforcements for your fellow sisters.