Monday, January 23, 2012

Tough Girl

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase: “You need to develop thicker skin.” But, I have yet to hear a Bible verse to back up that phrase. And so I look at them, most likely with a blank stare and nod knowing that every time to “try” to be tough I forfeit the sweetest part of me. My southern sweetness nods and then I shake it off and shake my head wondering what on earth these ladies have been through to put on such a tough-girl exterior.

The fact is, I am strong. I’ve had to be. I’m strong because I forgive even though I can’t always forget. I’m strong because I run to God and not away from Him. I’m strong because I’m not at all. I’m weak and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

I’m not sure who told women that we needed to wear the pants in the family, serve it up hot in the kitchen (and the bedroom) and get over our natural, God-given, femininity by having thicker skin. But, I’m afraid for them and for their hearts.

We can be Proverbs 31 women in the making, consider the field (or minivan) and buy it. We can dress our children in fine clothing, or pick it up off the floor and hand it to them ten minutes before the school bus arrives and pray it doesn’t have stains on it. We can celebrate our respected husbands who provide for us well and come home to a somewhat clean house and happy wife who sometimes isn’t happy. We can paint the house, stain the cabinets, and use a staple gun to update the fabric on our chairs. No one loves a staple gun more than me and to be real honest, I would rather have a staple gun over a waffle iron any day.

We can do it all, or at least we try to. But, at the end of the day when we have worked like a man while trying to smell like a can bet your discount shoes that we are going to cry because we are tired. And calloused hands still hurt.

But what happens when you are unhappy and your soft skin feels tender, rubbed raw, and the ones around you are pouring lemon juice into your wounds instead of a healing salve?

You take in words straight from the heart of God telling you who you really are and what you are really worth.

You are far more precious than rubies, Proverbs 31 woman, but you do not have to be a cold, hard stone.

NLT says that the Proverbs 31 woman is energetic and strong, a hard worker. Her hands are busy (but, it doesn’t say anything about having a busy mouth. Hum, something to ponder.)

I wonder if she is energetic and strong because she knows when to rest, when to pull away, and regain her strength? Because if she is going to have anything worthwhile to offer her family, she must be well versed in saying no to everything else that distracts from her highest calling.

She is clothed in strength and dignity. But, I wonder if her skin was still soft and supple even though she had hands that are familiar with hard work? Heaven knows we all need some cream and lotions, and this girl is smart y'all...she probably whipped up her own batch of wonder under-eye cream!

She laughs, without fear of her future. Perhaps she cackles like me, from her gut with her head back, relentless because she’s taken a lifetime of fighting, crying, and putting on strength while remaining very much a woman. She makes a choice to be soft and strong all at the same time. Because after all, she knows what matters most and it’s not everyone else’s lousy advice and 10 Easy Steps to make your house, kids, and husband look fabulous while you smile and call Walgreens because your Zantac bottle is empty.

Can I tell you that being soft and sensitive is not a curse? It opens way to the gifts of helps and cheap and affordable therapy for your friends while giving you a shoulder for the toughest girl in the world to cry on.

Being tough is not the answer, realizing that you are not at all, nor do you have to be, is.

God didn’t make me to be tough; He made me to be soft. And everyone that tries to tell me otherwise doesn’t know me. At all. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.) I’m not taking about being overly sensitive and so insecure that when the person next to me sneezes and makes a funny face…I assume it’s because of something I’ve done. I got over that after High School and I’m definitely not returning to those days. My ponytail and pom-pom days are over, so I can put on strength and not have to punch people in the face, or with my words, to do so.

A Not-So-Tough Girl,