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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Quiet Courage

There are two ways to exert one's strength.  One is pushing down.  The other is pulling up.
-Booker T. Washigton

I've been thinking about strength lately.  And about women.  I've been thinking about women who are suddenly presented with a life in which they have to be so much more than they ever imagined they would have to be.  Strong, brave, courageous.

All of these words conjure up images of power.  And power often has a connotation of being big and bold and loud.  Sometimes we women cling to these images.  We want this kind of power desperately.  Perhaps because this culture has so often denied power to us, it makes us earnestly seek it.  We want to shout it from the mountain tops.  We are independent and fierce and capable.  These manifestations of power are hailed as being righteous and justified.  And certainly, in many instances, maybe they are.

We are encouraged in this culture to express ourselves.  And I believe that can be very important.  That we live in a time when we have permission to be loud and aggressive and angry about certain situations with which we are faced can be a good thing, I suppose.  I think there is a time and a place, but lately I've been thinking of a woman I know who has chosen to face her challenges in a different way.  I am thinking of a woman who has faced pain and hurt and desperately difficult choices with civility, kindess, honesty and restraint. And though she might feel a bit fragile right now, those characteristics are the ones that are making her become one of the strongest women I know.

My friend's marriage is in crisis. She has every right, according to many, to spew her story to anyone and everyone.  She could very well turn to vengenance with blame and accusations.  She is not doing that. She is being contemplative and patient and working hard to make things better.  She is speaking in truth about her own faults and flaws. She is talking in quiet confidence with trusted friends, revealing only what her heart knows she must, so that she can face her truth. She is earnestly seeking what God would have her do.  She has not let anger take her over, but has replaced it with humility and decency.  She hasn't taken to social media to write cryptic messages regarding how much better off her life would be without the drama and that certain person.

(Side note/On my High Horse/Pet Peeve alert):  By the way, the taking of relationship issues, romantic or otherwise, to social media makes my head want to explode.  And it makes me sad.  Most of us can figure out who the certain person is.  And if we can't, you can bet your boots that the certain person knows who she or he is and is not derailed from the damage she or he is causing.  That certain person most likely is fueled by your efforts.  I've seen that stuff up close and personal, friends.  It makes you feel better for a bit, but it's a mistake.  And if you are taking to the internet to talk about how you don't like the drama, we will just go ahead and assume that you LOVE the drama. So you might as well just say, Hey, Fred, you're a big ol' jerk, shut the computer down and call it a day.)

OK, deep breath, Judgy McJudgerson.  I know, I know - this coming from a woman who pours her heart out on the world wide web every week.  Hello, kettle?  This is pot.)  Anyway . . . 

There is power in walking in dignified quiet, in being open to forgiveness even when everything in the logical mind says that it just can't be given . . . even when one waits for acknowledgement and repentance that one knows just might never come.  Even when reconciliation might very well be impossible. 

The thing is, as I write this, I'm realizing that I'm not even really focused on the forgiveness or the reconciliation.  Although, I'd say I'm a big fan of both, what if those things don't come?  Isn't it still of upmost importance, especially when children are involved, to keep things close inside rather than shouting pridefully about what one deserves?  Isn't this just basic civility?  This kind of strength is still powerful.  And when all is said and done, even when there is no healing to the relationship, I think this approach has the most potential to heal the hearts and the souls of all involved.

My friend is so very tired.  She is exhausted because she is working so hard and I'm sure her husband is as well.  Although she is making the right choices to stand up for herself and her family, she is not exhilarated and full of defiance.  She is sad and she wants miracles, but reality is just as it is so often described:  harsh.  Truth be told this reality might not get better in the way she hopes.  These circumstances are terribly difficult.  But they are hers and she is owning them:  not blaming, not lying, not shifting.  Simply working.

As she and I sat together with another friend, we talked and talked and tried to make sense of it as women tend to do.  We three had no perfect answers.   At one point, our friend looked her straight in the eyes and told her how very brave she was.  Her eyes filled and she told us that she doesn't know how much more she has left in her for this fight. 

Later that week, I stumbled on this verse:

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever." Ephesians 3:20-21

How I wish my friend could see how much she does have in her.  And years down the road I hope she'll look back and know.  She might not feel powerful, but He is. She's tired, but He's not.  She's confused, but He's not.  She is feeling low on options, but I think she knows that seeking Him is the first option to take. Our Savior walked in quiet humility.  When being spit upon and ridiculed, he was calm and quiet and assured of His purpose, because He knew who He was and where He was going.    

None of us have it in us all on our own.  But the greatest and most honorable example of courage in the history of all time can dwell within us, if we just accept His help. He has more of everything that we need . . . more than we could ever imagine.




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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jen,
As a friend of yours who has found inspiration from your blog, I hope this other friend finds it too. You may quote the bible, but I'm going to quote Beyonce. Talk about a strong woman, Shazam!
"...I ain't gonna blast you on the internet...cuz my Momma taught me better than that. I'm a surivior, I'm not gon' give up!" Destiny's Child
Sincerely,
Your only friend who is STILL not on Facebook