You can be strong and soft.

Part 2 of DEFENSELESS, a collection of thoughts for 2015.

Recently someone told me I had a strong personality, and y’all… it totally hurt my feelings. I listen and read and ask a lot of questions, but I talk a lot too. I try to keep it to invite-only, but when someone asks how I feel about something, I’d like to think there’s freedom to share it. So why did it sting to hear my personality referred to as strong? Without getting into politics and discussing feminism, can I say I felt hurt because of my perception of womanhood?

I’ve always had a fear of being “too much.” I don’t think men could ever understand this, but you women know what I’m talking about. I fully acknowledge that I lead a very privileged life, and don’t worry. I’m discussing that tomorrow. Privilege aside, there’s still a lot of stigma out there with women and their roles. In some conversations, I feel like I can’t say the same thing as my husband without receiving judgment. In some conversations, I feel like my opinions are unwelcome or regarded as out of place. Even if those things aren’t actually true, I feel the weight of my womanhood as a burden when it comes to my voice.

To be clear, the comment was made in a conversation full of love and encouragement. But there were several similar conversations over the span of a few months, and the culmination of it all got my wheels turning. I went on this quest to prove that I wasn’t strong. I remember raising my voice at my husband in my kitchen one night about it. I told him I felt like I was ringing a bell that sang,  “I am meek! I am mild! I am a listener! I follow directions!” and that I felt like nobody was listening to me. I remember raising my voice. Being defensive.

And then I began to see. I might actually have a strong personality. There’s nothing wrong with that. God made me fearfully and wonderfully, and He designed me to communicate to people. He created me strong.

But He also created me to be soft, to listen and choose to stay quiet sometimes. He created me to meet people where they’re at, to sit on opinions and work through them. He created me to filter my perspective through the gospel of Jesus and how fiercely He loves people. Just watch Me, Rach. Watch Me and learn. You can be strong and soft.

Strength celebrated and leveraged. Eyes and ears and heart open. I stand defenseless.

11 thoughts on “You can be strong and soft.”

  1. I’m reading this and smiling because my fear was exactly opposite. I LOVED people telling me I was strong but when people called me soft I was TERRIFIED. Soft = weak. As I get older (and maybe wiser?) I realized that God created women to be BOTH. Soft so that we can love and be loved well. Strong so that we do the heavy work that is required of us. And that they aren’t mutually exclusive. I love reading your posts lately.

    1. That’s hilarious! But I love it. You’re right, those things aren’t mutually exclusive. Thanks for your words.

  2. I’m a weird combo of similar – hating being called strong because I know my own weakness – but also absolutely hating being weak and liking to pretend that I’m not.

  3. This is a good word, Rach. I’m with you – using our God-given strength for good is way more honoring to Him and healthy for us than touting false smallness is.
    Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I’m not being defensive!!!” during an argument. Oof.

  4. I have been struggling with this as a self-proclaimed ‘strong independent female’ and I was curious if you, or anyone else who reads this, had any literature that you would refer along these same lines (scripture, self-help books, etc.)?

    1. Writing this down and going on a hunt. My most recent post is a list of books I’m currently reading, most of which speak to this exact theme!

  5. Love your thoughts here. I relate to this and I think it really is a culture message, so deeply ingrained that it takes a lot of time and transformation (& counseling, word)…growing up as a PK in a very conservative church nailed into me that women should be a certain way…your “I am meek! I am mild!” convo had me laughing out loud because I have said those exact words. But grace is so good and his yoke is easy, and I’m grateful for that! It is seriously a HARD practice to look to Jesus for affirmation and identity. My mom gifted me the set of the Passion translation and this, among so much of this translation, is Lovely:
    “But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its various expressions. This love is revealed through:
    Joy that overflows
    Peace that subdues
    Patience that endures
    Kindness on display
    A life full of virtue
    Faith that prevails
    Gentleness of the heart, and
    Strength of spirit.”

    Strong personalities – strength of spirit? And gentle hearts. Not either/or but both/and. Game changer!


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