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I had this drawing of a lion posted at my desk at work and it said, “A strong person is not the one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is one who is quiet and sheds tears for a moment, and then picks up her sword and fights again”.

It’s mocking me!

I want to cry, but I can’t quite give in. By cry, I mean the kind where you drop your pants, crawl under the covers, snuggle up next to your bed buddy and just give’er! No holds barred! Full on, scary, ugly-cry crying! I want to because I know that sweet relief follows. That build up of pressure flows out with your tears and your snot! And when you stop hiccuping and feel the coolness on your face as your tears dry and you start to drift off to sleep, you feel hope again.

I still feel hope, but I’m also feeling a lot of other things these days.

I feel hot and bothered, frustrated with discourteous people and people who don’t do what they say they will do. By well-meaning people who brush off my frustrations with poorly-timed cliches or personal anecdotes that really don’t fit here. Oh, and by hot flashes and night sweats, but mostly by people…

I feel restless. Like a teenagers’ “can’t wait to move away from home and start my life” kind of restlessness. Attending a 2 day leadership conference didn’t help. I came away feeling both overwhelmed by how things should be and aren’t, and by an intense desire to be involved in something that matters. Something transformational and pure and just.

I feel angry. I know that anger is a fickle and volatile companion. It breeds contempt, jealousy, and malice. I have enough weeds in my garden to keep the lawn maintenance companies off my block, I don’t need weeds in my soul too. (Or that zit on my forehead. Hello! I’m over 40 now!)

Strong women wear their pain like they do stilettos. No matter how much it hurts, all you see is the beauty of it.

You know I like my stilettos. I feel fierce in my sassy green boots. But I also feel annoyed because the world appears to be full of platitudes that make vulnerable women feel weak if they don’t behave like warriors, and dismiss their right to hurt.

Joyce Meyers wrote, “A strong woman knows how to keep her like in order. Even with tears in her eyes, she still manages to say, ‘I’m OK’ with a smile”. I disagree! There may be times, when our circumstances dictate that we have to stand firm, put on a strong front, and keep our pain private. But there are other times when we need to let someone in so they can help awaken a new beast within us. Warriors and lone wolves are powerful figures in stories, but how many of them live long enough to share their stories.

I don’t doubt that I am a strong woman, but I resent feeling like I’m not allowed to behave like a “weak” one.  I see myself as a warrior, but I resent the implication that I should feel shame if I need someone to stand by me or stand up for me.  Asking for someone to acknowledge our pain and to help us is a sign of strength.  I believe we need to embrace our messiness and carefully let others embrace us.

I tore down the quote posted at my desk, and I’ve replaced it with a new one. It says, “My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices that I am out of the fight”. See, C.S. Lewis’ quote removes the connotation that I am standing alone, or that I don’t show my feelings and I’m pretending that everything is okay. I may be strong or weak, fierce or vulnerable,  messy or just plain a mess. It connotes that I kept fighting the good fight.

And that makes me feel….hope. And “hope will not lead to disappointment”. (Rom. 5:5a)