Thursday, November 6, 2014

Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman

Who remembers that ad line for Secret Deodorant in the 80’s?  So clever to tout the strength of the product to keep even the toughest perspiration and odors at bay, but yet be gentle enough for women to put on her “delicate” skin.

I come from a long line of VERY strong women.  Also, I grew up in a unique time which colored my outlook in what it is like to be a woman.  I was born in the middle of the somewhat misogynistic 60’s (ever watch Mad Men?), spent my formative years in the “women’s lib” 70’s, experienced the “me generation” in the 80’s, got married and had children in the 90’s when not only were women AWESOME, but men were asinine (think of the TV shows, Married With Children, The Simpsons, Home Improvement).  By the time the new millennium came around I began to wonder, why is it that just because one gender becomes more valued over time that the other has to become less so?

I have often been described by some as a “strong” woman and sometimes I have perceived that as a compliment, a backhanded compliment or an outright criticism.  When I experienced a miscarriage before my first son was born, a friend of mine said she knew I could withstand the pain of loss because, “You’re a strong woman” she assured.  This past summer, my former high school teacher, a few high school friends and I got together for dinner.  My former teacher said he remembered in high school I was funny, sarcastic with a mature strength “kind of like…..a guy”. Once when my husband and I were watching a TV program about the differences between men and women in marriage, my husband turned to me and said, “Geez, you’re more like the man in the relationship” (he has said that he meant that as a compliment, but I took it as a criticism).

I had occasionally resented when people would describe me as strong, because, as I’ve mentioned, I would perceive them as sometimes questioning my femininity, as if I couldn’t be strong without being masculine.  It’s the same pet peeve I have when men in some type of authoritative role will call male underlings, “ladies” or “girls” as a put down to insinuate weakness, I presume.

After much contemplation and prayer what I have learned is this:  I am strong, but not like a man.  I am strong like a woman. 

We are all strong in our own unique, creative, gifted way.  It is not necessary for all of us to be strong in exactly the same manner.  It IS however, necessary for us to appreciate and celebrate each other’s strengths; loving and embracing the differences in each of us.

Thanks to all of you who have identified my strengths because when I’m feeling like jelly inside, I remember and encourage myself with your words.

-Tessa L. Charles

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Prov. 31:25 NLT

1 comment:

  1. Note from DailyTLC:
    This comment came in through the blogger, but for some reason it didn't post so I am posting it for Mom.

    Hi All,

    This is my first time to respond to a blog ever, but since it is my daughter that writes it AND since it's my birthday I am going to take the liberty.

    I am going to start by asking what is the definition of "strong" when we use it in connection with a person? Is it someone who is loud, opinionated and giving the impression that they are in control? Or can it be someone who is quietly, confidently self-possessed with an aura of being secure about themselves and their place in life?

    If we go to a physician or Specialist which type would we feel confident in? Which type of person reflects our concept of Christ?

    Does the woman who is innately strong make others feel like they're important or is it themself that it most important.

    Certainly the GodHead created woman to be exceedingly important to the max, otherwise why would they have entrusted the most exquisite power of procreation to us, something that is very akin to Creation. The rightful honor and place of women has been grossly distorted because of sin and the vengeful, unbalance thinking of some cultures and societies.

    However, how does that make us react and think to these ingrained injustices? Do we become the opposite number only with a feminine voice, or do we go to the "Great Equalizer" of all humanity, and accept His Powerful healing and His Personality in our lives so fully that we truly become the Powerful women we were originally created to be.

    The type of powerful, wholly non self-applauding, quietly confident woman that excludes and encourages confidence in others.

    What is strong enough for a man but gentle enough for a woman?

    Is it a healed, well-balanced, secure, other-people centered life, that blesses and refreshes all who come in contact with it, that has gotten it's power and acknowledges the Highest Source?