by Shannon Tanner
If anyone can attest to the thrill of being a STRONG and independent woman, I can! I came into my marriage with a strong sense of self. I knew where I was going, and what it would take to get there. I often joke with my friends that I should have worn a t-shirt in the early years of my marriage that read: “Baby, I got this! Just hold my purse!” And while this kind of woman is often publicly celebrated and revered as the model of new age feminine success; privately her love life will eventually suffer. When women aggressively seek to meet their own needs, not only do we devalue the position of the men in our lives, but we also rob them of the opportunity to become who God designed them to be; our covering, our protectors our strength. We end up years later, tired weary and confused, wondering who is fighting for us? We push our men into a corner and then get mad when they are afraid to come out. We clip their wings and then get mad when they are afraid to fly.
Under the rule of a STRONG woman, a man will gradually shut down, disengage, taking the path of least resistance. Like other women; my outward bravado of independence was not birthed from want, but from need. I needed to protect my hopes from being disappointed, my heart from being broken and my vulnerability from surfacing.
STRONG women are afraid to admit their NEED
When we CHARGE forward in our strength, we are covering our deep mistrust of the opposite sex, and God’s heart towards us. I will never forget a conversation I had with my husband early in our courtship. He asked me if I needed help covering an expense, I was an entrepreneur, whose income fluctuated. He could sense I was anxious about a pressing expense. I quickly dismissed his offer, and strongly boasted that; “I could handle it.” He looked at me tenderly, and said: “I have to feel like the woman I marry needs me.” In his vulnerability, I saw my own deep lack of trust. My PRIDE was attached to self-care, self-protection and self-reliance. And yet, deep down inside, my pride was FEAR. Fear that once again I would be let down, disappointed, left high and dry if I trusted anyone other than myself to handle business. I was a woman arrogant enough to believe that without me, everything would fall apart. That is too much of a burden for any woman to uphold for any length of time.
STRONG women don’t trust men or God
I did not trust men, I did not trust God, my strength was a “fig-leaf” a false mask constructed from my past wounds. If I didn’t “need” anyone or anything, I wouldn’t have to experience the pain of disappointment. Many of these feelings stemmed from my first relationship with a man; my father. So in my need to “manage” future pain, I seized control. If I was in control, I could manage the outcome, but a woman who is always SEIZING control, is rarely RECEIVING the deep restorative love her heart so desperately needs.
I discovered in marriage, the more I fought for control the more broken I became by what I refused to let go of. We are made to depend on God; we are designed to gather our strength, hope and our confidence in His presence. The controlling, STRONG woman learns humility the hard way. And her pride is promised to lead to her fall.
The STRONG woman’s true SOURCE of strength
God will challenge the STRONG woman to come face to face with all of our “outer-props” that have been holding us up, so we can recognize our true source for peace, provision and promotion. Until we learn the power of surrender, we will damage the men who love us and live LESS than God desires for us. The same control we employ to secure our lives against future pain and disappointments; will be the very force that blocks us from being fully transformed by God’s grace. When we seek the TRUE source of strength in our lives, our men will be blessed for it and so will our hearts.
God is in control, we are not
The beauty of the strong woman is that once she gives her heart over to total dependence on God, she carries that same unyielding resilience into new territory, and her victory is promised. Her heart will finally be at rest, and others will find rest in her presence where they once only found striving. Ask God to show you were you have employed false bravado and strength as a form of protection, and let Him heal you. God desires to give you the deepest strength ever, strength that can only be found in total surrender.