The school bus was filled with chatter like every morning. I made myself comfortable near the middle back row and leaned my head against the plastic window. I tried to take a quick nap. “Chink, chink, chinkity chink“. I rolled my eyes. Every week, Chad* and his posse sat at the front of the bus and spewed out racist comments or jokes trying to get some sort of reaction. “So freaking annoying“, I grumbled angrily to myself. “Hey chiiiiink”, Chad blurted out again. This time, directly at an asian peer of mine. I struggled to ignore and keep my eyes tightly shut, but Chad continued on and on.
I felt something in me snap.
“Who said that?”
I was still sitting in my seat, afraid to make myself known. But at the same time, I was fed up. I’ve had it. I was SO tired of hearing the same ridiculous racist slurs. At this point, Chad and his friends were facing the back of the bus, eyes rapidly scanning around. A little louder this time, I responded,
“You heard me. I said stop.”
“Who just said that?!”
Now, my blood was boiling. What made him think that he had the right to raise his voice and get angry with me?! I bolted up from my seat, index finger sharply pointed in his direction and bellowed,
“ME. I SAID IT. DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT? DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY? YOU THINK I’M GOING TO JUST SIT HERE AND TAKE THAT? I’M TIRED OF YOUR SH–. I AM TIRED OF IT.”
Flabbergasted, he didn’t say anything. Eventually, he got kicked off the bus for good.
And from that moment on, I self-declared that I was a strong woman and no one could take that from me. Years later, well into my teens approaching 20, I had developed a fixed mindset on what it meant to be a strong woman. I believed that a strong woman:
- vocalized all her opinions
- asserted herself in all situations
- hid any signs of weakness
- acted tough in front of everyone
Ten years later, I still believe that I am a strong woman, but not in the way I described years ago. A beloved mentor recently told me that to be a strong woman means to have a soft heart and be okay with falling down but to also know how to get back up. A strong woman adheres firmly to God’s standards and to no one else’s. I was reminded that my strength is fueled and refueled by Him who sustains me. So what does it mean to be a strong woman?
A strong woman in the Lord…
- finds her strength in the Lord alone
- is unafraid to fall for she will get up again
- serves with humility and compassion
- leads by example
- teaches with wisdom and grace
Learning to be faithful and seeking Him brings me to a better understanding of what it means to be strong in the Lord. I frequently find myself in situations when I could raise my voice, I could put my foot down, but I also could take a moment to breathe and ask Him to strengthen me.
His strength is enduring the lashes. His strength is crying out to the Lord at Gethsemane. His strength is going through with laying his life down for us on the cross. His strength is claiming victory over death.
Every day is a new day to learn, to be challenged, and to grow. Though on my own I am weak and fall to my knees, in Him, I am strengthened to rise
“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25