Editor’s Note: I’m excited to share this unique and bold book with you. As a Jesus-follower constantly facing my personal frailty and fierceness, strengths and needs and seeking God’s divine interference in my life to find the sweet spot of graciousness and yet dauntlessness, I believe Mary speaks straight to the heart of issues women face today and that the content is imperative for Christian maturity and wisdom. The Right Kind of Strong tackles a plethora of challenging topics: not allowing creeps to creep into your life, the battle of the mind, getting rid of old baggage, engaging your emotions, religious fakery, knowing the Word of God and doing what it says, and asking for help in our weakness. I bought this book the minute it hit the market and I hope you will, too. Enjoy this excerpt!
This generation has been raised with the idea that strength is the most important trait for women. Hollywood resolutely marches out a parade of capable female heroines to show us what it means to be strong. In the latest Toy Story 4 movie, for example, the mild sweet porcelain doll, Bo Peep, returns as a “lost toy” who has claimed her independence and carved out a life of freedom. She has traded in her hoop skirt and bonnet for a pantsuit and superhero cape. Bo Peep doesn’t play by the rules anymore. She drives herself around, wielding her staff with ninja-like expertise to vanquish foes. Bo Peep doesn’t need Woody, Buzz or anyone else. She is feisty. Flirty. Fierce. And she joins a long line of popular role models that teach girls that being a strong woman means being sassy, sexy, independent, and above all, self-reliant and in control.
Human strength is a fragile illusion, though. It often fails when we encounter difficult circumstances. Suddenly, out of the blue, life can fall apart. An accident. A grim diagnosis. The loss of a job. Calamity. Betrayal. Relationship breakdown. These are the times when we see how weak we really are. The porcelain is fragile. The slogans on our T-shirts may advertise that we have Girl Power, or that we are Pretty Smart. Pretty Tough. Pretty Awesome. Pretty Fierce. That Girls Can Do Anything, or that Strong Looks Good on Me. But deep down, we know it’s not true. Our own strength is woefully inadequate. The slogans are hollow. No amount of personal empowerment can silence the nagging realization that we don’t have what it takes. We just don’t. Our strength and our sense of control are only figments of our imagination, illusions that disappear as quickly as a vapor in a puff of wind.
A Different Kind of Strength
We tend to think of weakness and strength as opposites. To be strong is a positive trait; it means to be without weakness. To be weak is a negative trait; it means to be without strength. But the Bible doesn’t adhere to this definition. It redraws the lines. Scripture teaches that everyone who relies on God is strong and that everyone who relies on self is weak. Contrary to what the world tells us, strength does not depend on a person’s competence. No. The biblical prescription is simple and radical. God-reliance equals strength. Self-reliance equals weakness. Period. Your personal ability or inability doesn’t indicate whether you are weak or strong; your dependence on God does. A strong woman is “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
Your personal ability or inability doesn’t indicate whether you are weak or strong; your dependence on God does.
We are strong whenever we depend on God. When we depend on Him, He works powerfully through our strengths and our weaknesses. Our strengths put God’s strength on display. But guess what? Our weaknesses also put God’s strength on display. You can be a strong woman regardless of what mix of strengths and weaknesses you bring to the table. Are you strong and gifted? Great! Understand that everything you have comes from God and rely on Him for the wisdom and strength to use your talents for his glory. Do you feel weak and incapable? That’s great too! Because your inability is the perfect showcase for God’s ability. It gives Him the opportunity to prove how powerful and strong He is.
True Strength Embraces Weakness
The Apostle Paul was irked by a personal weakness he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). We don’t know exactly what this weakness was, but we do know that Paul felt harassed and tormented by it. Three times he pleaded with God to take it away. The Lord told him,
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. — 2 Corinthians 12:9
As a result of this answer, Paul stopped asking the Lord to get rid of it. Instead, he embraced his weakness and began to view it as an opportunity for God to showcase His divine strength.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
The right kind of strong is “made perfect in weakness.” In other words, weakness presents the perfect occasion — the clearest, most conspicuous opportunity—to showcase God’s power. God’s ability shines with spectacular brilliance when it is etched against the backdrop of human inability. God works through every human ability that is surrendered to him. But working through weakness proves that He can also work in the absence of any ability whatsoever on our part. Where it is especially obvious that we didn’t have the capacity to prevail, He gets the greater glory. That’s why God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.
I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in the fact that I don’t need to be strong. It’s okay to be weak. In fact, my weakness gives God the perfect opportunity to show me that He doesn’t need my strength or ability. He just needs me to lean on him. And He’ll do the rest.
Strong in the Lord
The popular script for what it means to be a strong woman is inadequate and misses the mark. True strength isn’t about being sassy, sexy, independent, self-reliant and in control. This is the wrong kind of strong. True strength doesn’t rely on self — it dies to self. Only when we give up the illusion of personal power and rely on God will we discover what strength truly means. Recognizing our human frailty and leaning on Him is what makes us strong. It’s a great paradox that, regardless of your inherent capability, embracing the right kind of weak will make you strong, and embracing the wrong kind of strong will make you weak.
Do you ever feel weak?
Contrary to what the world tells you, that feeling isn’t something you should deny or be ashamed of. You are simply sensing the truth and reality of your situation.
You are weak. We all are! A woman of strength recognizes she is weak and in need of a Savior. She admits her need. She knows that it’s only the good kind of weak — the humble, soft, teachable kind — that will truly make her strong.
God wants us to dress ourselves with strength and make our arms strong (Proverbs 31:17). How do we do this? By relying on His strength rather than our own. That’s what will empower us to step up and become bold heroines in His story.
Adapted and excerpted with permission from The Right Kind of Strong: Surprisingly Simple Habits of a Spiritually Strong Woman by Mary A. Kassian. Copyright Mary A. Kassian.
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True strength dies to self. Do you feel incapable, unable, and unequal to your tasks? Do you feel weak? Well, AMEN! You’re in the perfect position for God to work in and through you and give all the glory to Him! Come share with us about the power of the Lord in weakness on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full