Dear Strong Girl,
I see you.
They say the “squeaky wheel gets the oil: Well, that’s not you. In fact, most of the time you’re the one with the oil can, quieting the squeaky wheel… the needy friend, the fragile child, the hurting husband, the dark culture, the social injustice.
I see you holding it all together while they fall apart. I see you putting your needs on the back burner so often that they’ve boiled down to a burnt layer of unidentified crust. You catch the smell briefly and it’s a reminder of another dish to wash.
I see your loud strength… Your bold, boisterous, brave strength. I see the way you defend the widows and orphans and underdogs. I see your Mama Bear Strength when someone comes after your kid, your tribe, the schools and churches and missions you love. I see the way you are misunderstood and pigeon-holed. I see the labels they put on you, all the while noting that the next time they need bold, boisterous, and brave, you’re their girl.
I see your quiet strength. I see your steadfast, serving, show-up strength. I see the way that families and ministries, care-calendars and friend groups are built on your steady shoulders. I know the way they all just assume you’ll be there, do the work, organize the thing, send the email. I know you fear they take you for granted. Sometimes they do.
I see your big dreams. I know how overwhelming the passion can feel swirling inside of you… like fire in your bones. And I see how it threatens them. You see it too. Girls who really go for it feel a bit “much.” I know you want permission. You want support. You want the blessing to be strong in a new space. You may not get it. Go for it anyway. I see you.
I see the way some people need you and want you and like to take sanctuary beneath your strength, until they don’t. They feed off of it until what they want is something a little easier to swallow than truth. The thing about strength is, it’s strong. The thing about Strong Girls is they don’t sway and crumble with circumstances or emotions. That’s cool until it isn’t. And then I see you alone. I know that, much to the surprise of everyone around you, you actually feel lonely and question yourself, and wonder how this was the end of the story again. I see you. I get it.
I see that your strength is real. I know it is not a blustery, bossy mask held together by tough words and attention-seeking self-interest. . It’s not built on bullying others or taking them down. It shines as you pour your life out again and again and again to those around you. I know they assume your supply will never end, never run out. That’s probably not true. I see the tears you cry in your closet when no one checked on you. No one returned the favor. No one thought you might need a bit of what you give so freely… your time, your wisdom, your ear, your strength. I wish I could sit with you there in the dark, but by the time I get there you’ll be up and at ’em. No one has time for that kind of self-pity. Well, no one like you. Pour on, Strong Girl, but get filled too. Everyone runs out.
I see you up there on that stage leading well. Like a Boss, in fact. I see you and I am for you as you blaze your trail Sister. And I see you behind, hemming us in with the backbone of your very presence. I am for you as you mix your strength like cement and hold everyone in place. That work matters and I see it.
I see you standing like a rock in the middle of a river… The Culture River, The Unconscious River, The River Selfish. Be careful, Low Integrity Crossing is just up the way. And there you are, a rock in the middle. Some will crash into you and curse the reminder you are as they float away comfortably down stream. And some will grab hold of you as you rescue them from the current to be so much more. You’re good like that because you are strong, girl.
I see the people you gather and the causes you champion. I see the kids you raise and the marriage you fought for until you bled. I see the friends you saved and the ones lost to the very strength they asked of you. I hear the songs you sing, the mantras you preach, and the secrets you keep. I see the home you open, mess and all. I see the gifts you use, and the ones you hold back. I see the justice you fight for and the backlash you take. I see the way you bear other’s burdens, and celebrate their victories like your own. I see the muscle perseverance and patience and pressing in and all the agains have built.. It looks good on you. You ARE strong. I know they all think you “got this”, because let’s face it, you “got this.” That doesn’t mean you want to do it all. That doesn’t mean you want to do it alone. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a safe, soft place every now and then. I see you.
Maybe the only ones who can see Strong Girls for who they truly are, are other Strong Girls. Maybe the only ones who can understand them is someone cut from the same cloth. Maybe the only ones who don’t feel threatened are those who possess their own strength in spades. It looks different on you than it does on the girl in the mirror, but familiar all the same.
They will misunderstand you… stand on truth anyway. They will use you… give anyway. They will hurt you… love anyway. They will leave you… offer your hand anyway. They will take you for granted… serve anyway. They will hold on to you too tightly, let you go too easily, need you too much, ignore your loneliness too long., love your strength, and then resent it… Be you anyway. I get it. I see you and you’re beautiful.