BY KATO CLINTON
“I am a strong independent woman.” I hate that saying. I hate it as much as I hate the words “Yolo” and “’merica.” I literally cringe every time I hear any of those things said; and if I think about it too long my jaw starts to hurt (like it does now). I think a lot of people would be surprised that I hate the saying strong independent woman. You yourself might be surprised. Some of you may even think that it’s my life motto.
Just because I can fix the headlight on my car, change a flat tire, make a running toilet stop, kill spiders, hang Christmas lights on the house, live alone (and frankly, do a lot of things alone like go to the movies), that doesn’t mean I’m a strong independent woman. Maybe it’s because I would rather make an acquaintance than make a friend or because I bought a house and I’m currently helping remodel it or because I use my 2nd amendment rights (daily). Maybe it’s my competitiveness, love of sports, my pride, my stubbornness, or my work ethic. Whatever it is… it’s simply not true. I am not a strong independent woman, if I’m being honest. I want to get married someday, and I’m really hoping he hasn’t read this list so he can be the godly man I’m praying for and does these things without me having to worry. I really don’t like having to deal with my car, toilets, spiders, construction, and heights.
I’m just going to shoot straight. Never in my life have I ever felt as alone as I have this year, even though I am surrounded by people I love daily and I have a great group of supporters (financially and spiritually). But it’s time to be honest. I think a lot of the misconception stems from recently buying a house. Buying the house has been a bittersweet experience. The benefits are great! I have a cheap mortgage (cheaper than renting), a large yard for Bandit to play in, and I’m building equity and credit. But it hasn’t been easy and I’m not just talking about the hours of work my parents and I have put into it or the blood, sweat, and (almost) tears. The trips to the hospital. Nights wondering if I made the right decision. Waking up every morning on a cot to 1800 mismatched barn wood walls gets old really fast. But that’s just the exterior experience. The internal battles are brutal. The fact that I will never get to buy my first home with my husband (if it’s God’s plan that I marry) legitimately makes my heart ache (and I am not a sentimental or emotional person). The fact that I don’t get to host people because I live far from my community is difficult. People don’t just come over. The fact that my parents have spent hours on the road and at my house every free day they have (they’ve even taken vacation days) to work on it and half of the time they work on it without me because I’m at work – it's hard. How could I ever repay that? Living alone is a little easier than buying the house. At least I have my dog, Bandit. He guards the house while I’m gone and protects me when I am home. A living being that can’t speak, does whatever I want him to do, and if he’s annoying me… I can just put him in the back yard and he’ll still love me unconditionally. The perfect relationship, right?
Earlier this year I heard a sermon called “Ladies First” about how God designed men and women differently (shocker). Men and women each have their roles specifically designed for them. Women were represented as goblets (delicate and beautiful); men as thermoses (strong and protective). I was so excited. I love goblets, and I feel like they represent women well. Both equal but with two totally different purposes. Then I quickly realized that other people did not see me that way, or thought that I don’t think of myself that way. It’s not what others think of me that bothered me. It was that I didn’t feel like I was living a feminine, gospel centered life, if they believed that about me. Since then, I have been digging deep to find the root of my identity. I needed to change my exterior to match with my interior. So how do I make my identity in Jesus seen from the outside?
Step 1: Depend on the Word as Truth. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). God purposefully made us different. “Come to me, all who labor and are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I don’t know about you, but I have carried so many burdens that I have collected over the years. I am weary from working a full time job and then working on my house on the weekends and I am so ready to lay all of this at Jesus’ feet.
Step 2: Pray. “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will heal” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Step 3: Depend on community. Never in my life have I ever depended on my community and Jesus’ gospel daily like I do now. I like to say I’m an open book… as long as you know which page to turn to. It allows me to answer questions without having to tell the whole truth. The barriers that I have worked so hard over the years to build make sure no one gets close enough to truly know me. To keep myself protected from being hurt, to actually admit that I’m not a 100% thinker, that I have feelings and they actually get hurt, is hard to admit (I really didn’t want to write that).
If I truly want to live a gospel centered life, the barriers have got to go.
To be viewed as a feminine woman of God.
A goblet and not a thermos.
I have to be dependent on someone other than myself. Mentally, I am there (that’s the beauty of being a thinker). I know it to be true, but this is a heart issue and only God can change the heart. It’s been a process and externally I don’t know if I’m there or if I’ll ever be there. But internally, I am able to get one step closer each day.
So to all of the strong independent women, you can’t do life on your own. I’ve tried. It’s not worth the fight. It’s not worth the parades. It’s not worth you trying to prove yourself. Jesus is greater than all of this. You can depend on Him. He is greater than our insecurities, fear, inabilities, and He has paid the debt that we could never pay. “He is the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). You can be clothed in strength and dignity and still depend on community (AND GUYS! God created them to lead, protect, and provide, right? Let them be gentlemen and help a lady out once in a while.) I’m not going to change overnight or because I wrote all of this down. It’s going to take time, a lot of humbling, and repenting, but I am so ready to be a strong, dependent, woman of God because Jesus is worth it.
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