Sometimes, I try really hard to be tough.
Oh, I don’t go out and chop wood, lift weights, put criminals in jail, go to battle, fight for the innocent, save a life, or conquer the world. (Though many women do a darned good job at those things!)
I don’t do a lot of tough “stuff”.
….or do I?
I try to roll with the punches. I endeavor to always be the optimist. I try to be strong for those close to me. I strive to encourage those I love. It is my ultimate goal to see that my family is loved, cared for, safe, clothed, and fed. I want to be the best wife, mommy, sister, daughter, and friend that I possibly can be.
I know I am not perfect and that I can’t “do it all”, and that I will make mistakes. But that doesn’t keep me from trying.
I pretend that things don’t bother me. I pretend that words don’t hurt, circumstances don’t worry me, and that I have perfect faith in the Lord at all times. I pretend that I can take whatever life throws my way, somehow make the best out of each situation and emerge with a smile on my face. That’s a good goal, right?
I try to hold everything together. I have this nagging thought that if I let go and relax for a bit, things will fall apart and I will be the one to blame. I suppose it’s pretty self-centered of me to think that the entire world rests on my shoulders. But sometimes it feels that way! Does anyone relate?
The truth is, I struggle. Sometimes daily. Hourly.
And because of my pride, sometimes I’m afraid to show it.
Women as a general rule have a reputation for being overly emotional. Emotions are God-given, but we sometimes use them to manipulate others, for attention, or for an excuse to say what we want. While many times our feelings are valid and real, there are times when we spout then write it off as PMS or hormones instead of having self control. I’m not bashing, because I am right in the same boat!
My sanguine personality can fall easily into this category. Just like any other member of the female species, I have this thing called emotions. Lots of them. Who knows where they come from, but it doesn’t take long for them to surface. My entire life I’ve always been known as a talker. Talkative people can be like a faucet for unbridled emotions to pour out if left unchecked. The animated, outgoing one whose opinions and stories tend to splatter across the room. I’m not hating, God loves the talkies too, lucky for me. But there’s balance to be won in realizing that maybe not everything I have to say is necessary. And (confession): I maybe even kinda sorta might be….a big mouth.
While it may be a true weakness of mine, I hate that stigma and am working hard to let God refine my tongue. Big mouths mean trouble.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” – Proverbs 18:21
So, thus enters my journey to learn to, well, be quiet. Because of some of these stereotypes, I suppose I resolved to be different. I don’t really know why or how. But at some point or another, I decided that I would beat the emotional status quo and be tough.
Over the past several years, I’ve realized that in my intense well-intentioned desire to be strong, I’ve instead become a stuffer. While I still love conversation and telling a good story, I’m finding that I may have gone to the other extreme when it comes to talking about my feelings. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it, so I think I’m okay. There is something about becoming a wife and mom that has made me want to take care of everything, fix everything, and be everything to everyone. Even typing that makes me realize how ludicrous the idea is! Darn it, there’s that people-pleaser girl again!
Yesterday morning I woke up with a headache. It wasn’t bad at first…but it crawled from the knots in my shoulders up into my neck until I felt like my head was in a vise.
Not even two cups of coffee and some Extra Strength Tylenol could kick it.
While nothing bad happened at work, a simple discussion with my hubby started a little leak in the dam I had unknowingly built up inside. He didn’t even say anything super hurtful, he was just sharing some things that were bothering him about several circumstances in our life in the past few years (job, family, friendship, etc). I did my best to do what I do.
Support and encourage him. BE STRONG. Give an answer. Tell him it’s okay.
I left for work again feeling BLAH. I shoved it aside but this time I couldn’t quite plug the leak. It wasn’t until I was on my 20 minute drive to pick up my girls that I realized…
“I’m not okay. Sometimes I feel let down. Sometimes I hurt too. “
At that point I began to finally think, pray, and allow myself to feel. I was surprised to find that some of the things I thought I had a grip on, large or small, I really didn’t.
In exerting all of my energy to be strong and tough for those around me, I was left weakened and feeling empty.
On the way back home, I cried, really cried for the first time in a while. I cry frequently when things touch me, or in sympathy for other people, but rarely just for myself. Maybe it just seems silly. Because I should be tough.
In the midst of all of the thoughts inside my head, I felt a still, quiet voice speak to my heart…
“It’s okay to cry.”
Simple, right? It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But relief flooded my spirit and I felt a weight come off as I let myself just….be weak. Be vulnerable. While I know it in my head, I hadn’t been living out the fact that I can’t do it all. I don’t have all the answers and shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling. For wondering and for not being able to understand.
God is so good and gracious. When we are weak, He is ever strong. I am guilty of endeavoring to carry the weight of life on my own shoulders instead of trusting my Creator, then wondering why I feel empty. He didn’t create us that way. We can’t do anything apart from Him! We aren’t designed to carry those weights. He took them for us on the Cross. Me trying to rely on my own strength and do things on my own essentially says that I don’t believe that Jesus’ work on the Cross was enough. Pretty convicting when you think of it that way!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” - 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” – Psalm 55:22
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you; casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7