Strong is Gender Neutral

Today is International Women’s Day! All around the world, people are celebrating the achievements of women. A quick Google search told me that IWD has been around since 1911…what??? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I live in a rural area of Ohio that mostly celebrates women’s abilities to bake and reproduce which, don’t get me wrong, are truly amazing, but come on, we also do a lot of other cool stuff. 

When I think of women, the word strength comes to mind. I am surrounded by a host of women in my personal life who are some of the toughest people I’ve come acrossed. No, not in a “West Side Story,” throwin down a knife fight kinda tough, but the kind of strength that comes from a mental, emotional, spiritual and yes, even physical, toughness.

The word “strong” is most commonly associated with men. We use it to describe physical attributes of muscles, brawn and masculinity. Even when we describe a woman as strong, more often than not we are referring to her physical strength, and thereby subtly nodding to our culture’s beliefs about gender and strength.

But you know what the word “strong” is? It’s an adjective. As in, “a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it.” (Thanks Google.) Strong is not meant to be intrinsically linked with men, the male gender or masculinity. It’s meant to describe something or someone.

In case you are wondering, I do associate myself with the word strong, and on this day, the day where we celebrate women’s accomplishments, I’d love to share with you the strong attributes associated with this woman.

1. My two, natural child births. By natural I’m not referring to the opposite of c-section. I’m talking about birthing a child without so much as a tylenol in my system. I believe that the process of carrying and delivering a child  is proof that all women are pretty tough stuff, so this statement by no way discredits the type of delivery you had. If you’ve birthed a baby, not matter the method, I think you are stronger than any body builder. But for me, the two, 100% natural child births were hands down the most empowering experiences of my life. I never felt more strong, more capable and more honored to be a woman than during those times. I never realized just how much I could do.

2. My yoga practice. I’m so grateful for yoga and the role it plays in my life. I could go on and on, but for brevity sake, I’ll simply say that yoga has helped me achieve a physical strength I never thought myself capable. Additionally, teaching yoga has also been a conduit for me to develop other areas of my life that I once thought were weaknesses, into strengths.

3. Fighting with my husband. Nothing makes me feel stronger and more secure than fighting with my husband. Crazy, right? But here is the catch. That strength comes the moment we stop fighting with each other, and start fighting for each other. Every fight is an opportunity to go deeper, to love harder and forgive better. Tough stuff happens in life. You can use those things to inspire fights that destroy, or fights that lead to into something better. And like I always say, I never want to stop fighting with my husband. Because fighting is a form of passion. We fight because we are passionate for each other, for our marriage, and for this life we have together.

4. Being a mom. When we had Oliver, I learned a valuable truth about becoming a parent. I shared this story when we dedicated him, and you can read more about that here. But the basic idea is this: God didn’t make me just a mom. He made me a warrior. And my kids aren’t just gifts or responsibilities (although the are), they are my spiritual arrows. As a warrior-momma, I fight for what is right, for what is good, for what is true. I fight for love, not just mine, but the love God gave me. And my kids will one day continue that fight. They are my arrows I’ll send out to continue that fight for love. Again, not fighting with people, but for them. It is this warrior-momma spirit that makes me feel strong.

5. I feel strong, knowing that even in my weak moments, even when I feel like I can’t face tomorrow or can’t handle the hard things life throws at me, that I wasn’t given a spirit of fear, “but of power, and love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

So happy International Women’s Day, to all you ladies out there. I’d love to hear about your accomplishments or the things that make you feel strong. Don’t be afraid to use my comment section to toot your own horn, or that of someone you admire. Acknowledging the things we like about ourselves or the ways we are strong is the first step towards taking our place confidently at the table. And allowing others this opportunity is equally as important. So lets start the conversation, but be warned, if you are mean or post something that tears down rather than build up – I’ve got a delete button and I’m not afraid to use it :-).

2 thoughts on “Strong is Gender Neutral

  1. *My natural birth with my second daughter was by far the strongest I have ever felt. I don’t like pain. I don’t like feeling out of control. I don’t like not knowing what is going to happen. You get my point! BUT I prayed so hard and trusted God to give me the strength to birth my baby girl naturally & I DID IT! It was incredible amazing! And, I generally feel strong when I wake up before my kids most days. I am facing another day of all the ups and downs that come with being a SAHM and I am pretty proud I can do that day after day. 🙂 #toottoot #thatisthesoundofahornbtw

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