Sunday, October 20, 2013

A God-Strong Woman

What woman doesn't want to be considered "strong"? I think if we are honest, we would have to admit that we want to not only be strong emotionally, physically, mentally, as a daughter, wife, mother, friend, but we want people to view us as strong. We want others to think, "Wow. That girl has it all together she is so 'strong'! She's a great _____________(Christian, wife, mom, etc--you fill in the blank of what you desire.)" The world tells us that we need to be strong. We are a woman. We can do anything! We are invincible. We are equal or (in some women's eyes) strong than men. We cannot show signs of weakness or fear. We've "got" this.

Isn't that tiring? 

I have never thought that I was better than a boy 
simply because I am a woman, no matter the actual results. It's a fact of life that there are just some things that girls do better and some things that boys do better. That's how God made us, and that's a beautiful thing! But, back on point.... Although I have never thought I was better than the opposite sex, I still have always had a very strong desire to be strong. I think part of that is being the first born, part of it is my competitive personality, and part of it is my pride. I want to be viewed as someone who doesn't make mistakes, doesn't back down, doesn't give in.

Isn't this how we describe "strong"?

But, how does God define "strong"? Does he care about a strong woman? I would like to submit that, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" Check out His thoughts on being strong:

Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Strong in His power!)
John 16:33
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage (be strong!); I have overcome the world."
Proverbs 31:13-27
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. (You wanna tell me that the Proverbs 31 woman isn't strong? I'll challenge that! To me, she is the epitome of strong--God's strong.) can we become God's strong? The best answer that I have come across in my studying is the ability, through Christ, to die to yourself. And WOW, is that hard. 

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

...I die daily.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

We are repeatedly commanded to choose God's way over ours. To the world around us, choosing to not party and live a life of sin (without care for sin), is foolish and weak. But in God's eyes, this is true strength!

I want to share with you an example of a time when I chose to follow God even though I felt like I was stronger than how He was leading...and I share this with you, not to brag, but to encourage you that God's stronger is WAY better! I learned something through this situation that I cannot put into words. The situation brought me closer to God, my husband, and taught me a life changing lesson about being strong by giving in to His way...

It was about two weeks before our wedding...and we had a life plan. We were getting married, staying in the home I was renting, staying at the job I loved, and living happily ever I thought. (insert dramatic sigh)

I randomly, and I mean randomly, received an opportunity to interview at a company about an hour away from my current job, much closer to Pittsburgh (where Tim worked). I wasn't interested. I already had a job I loved, why would I even entertain an interview somewhere else. To make a long story short, I interviewed to appease Tim. After all, he's soon to be my hubby. I love him dearly and if this makes him happy, whatever...

After the interview, which I would have been way excited about had I not LOVED my current job, I told Tim that I didn't want to take the job, and he thought I should. Well, if they offer me $xx,xxx (which would be totally insane so I figured I was safe) then I'll consider it. (It was becoming more and more obvious we weren't going to be able to stay in my house because it was so far from everything we needed to do.) Well as God orchestrated the situation, they offered me more than I asked for, and Tim was 100% sure I needed to make the job jump.

I was not convinced. At all. I sought counsel from many Godly people, and most of them told me not to take the job if I didn't feel like it was God's will. "But Tim thinks I should..." I would say. "Tim's not your husband yet." was the typical response. It was a horrible few days. I was so torn between my "right to be happy," "my right as an adult," my "right as a woman" and the truth of submission to leadership. I couldn't sleep...I cried almost constantly. 

I have never had such a battle in my heart about my way versus God's way. I didn't "know" that God wanted me to take the new job, and that's why I  was frustrated, but I did know that he expected me to obey my husband. And the fact that we weren't saying "I do" for 10 days didn't really change the fact that I had already agreed to join into this relationship and Tim's leadership. I felt like this decision was going to really affect our new marriage. I was so upset because, "Wasn't I strong enough and wise enough to know what is best for my career?" "I'm my own person. This should be MY decision."

When I finally decided that God's will was for me to honor Tim's decision, no matter what I thought, it was really hard. 95% of people verbalized how foolish I was being. And it was really hard because I couldn't explain my decision outside of "I want to honor my husband." And, to a non-christian, that's pure foolishness. So...I got married, went on our honeymoon, came back and worked two rough weeks, sobbed the whole way home the last day, and begged God to let my new job be at least "okay" and not like the company two jobs ago...

Giving up my will took more strength and control than just doing what I wanted. It actually would have been easier to say to Tim, "Forget it. We aren't married yet, and I'm going to do what I feel is best and what is comfortable for me." Rarely do I choose God's strong over mine...very very rarely.

So....the happy ending....

I have been with this company for over 5 months. AND I LOVE IT. With the exception of missing some of my previous coworkers, this job is a million times better in every way. I enjoy my work more, I get paid more, my schedule is more flexible, and I really love my new coworkers. God has blessed my obedience more than I ever imagined He could.

If you had asked me 6 months ago if I was a strong woman, I probably would have said that I thought I was. But, after this experience I can tell you that I am stronger now. Putting down my will was much harder than "being my own person and making my own choice." And though the world won't tell you this, choosing God's way is the true sign of a strong woman.

In what area of your life is God asking you to be strong (his definition)? Are you fighting His way because "it's your right" or because you are strong!? Don't be fooled by the world's definition of strong. I challenge you to lay down your will before your God and see if he doesn't do miraculous things in your life!

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