“Be strong!” the world shouts, in so many ways, in so many words.
“You need to fight for what’s yours! You need to go out and compete for what you want! You need to prove yourself! You need to show them you’re equal!”
Over and over again, from childhood through adulthood, voices from ads from teachers, even from my parents. They begin outside of me, but somehow, over time, they replaced my own voice. I picked up my sword, put on my armor, and I went to battle with life. I was angry, militant, hard, strong. I was woman and indeed I did roar and I laid waste to anything that got in the way of my goals. I was celebrated for it. They called me a leader.
Inside my armor, I was so unhappy, but I had spent so many years holding back tears I could no longer even find the comfort of crying.
I turned my anger to G-d.
How could he create me as I was and then place me in a world where I was treated as “less than?” Why wasn’t I born a man so I wouldn’t have to fight these battles, always fighting to be heard, to matter, to be valued? Why didn’t he fix this broken world? Did he hate us, those who he created last, almost as an afterthought? I raged and raged and raged, rebellious and wild, going my own way. I would show him!
Like a child, I rebelled and, like a child, I only hurt myself, kicking walls and stubbing my toes.
G-d patiently waited, like any good parent, until my anger had eaten all the energy it could, until I finally had stilled and what was underneath the anger could finally find its way up. He waited until I stopped raging, stopped kicking and my tears finally burst forth. He kept his distance while I raged and gave me my space until I was ready to listen.
“Be weak,” He whispered in new voices, voices that had been too quiet for me to hear until I was ready to listen, until I had enough of the voices telling me to be strong and I could ignore them. They were voices that had been there all along, but I’d been too loud myself to hear them.
“Be weak?” my fear argued, “But, this world you made will eat me alive!”
“No, you are eating yourself alive,” The voice whispered, “Be weak and let me be your strength. Let men fight your battles. Let men be your protectors. You were never meant to march into battle. Lay down your sword and let them and me come closer. Let us love you.”
“I don’t want to be one of those women.” my pride protested, “I don’t want to be dependent and weak. I’m no one’s doormat!”
“What if you have nothing to prove to the world?” The voice whispered,”What if your value lies within, not in what you build or conquer? What if you are infinitely valuable for feeling, for loving, even for your tears?”
“But,” now my heart spoke finally, “I don’t believe that I am. I have to prove that I’m worth something, by what I earn or what certificates hang on my wall. I have to prove I’m smart. I have to prove I’m strong. Otherwise, what do I have? What am I?”
“You’re exactly what the world needs,” the voice continued to whisper, now it was months after I’d first calmed down and began listening, “I wouldn’t have put you here if you weren’t. Look around you, do you think the world needs more people competing or does it have enough? Do you think the world needs more fury and strength? Do you think it needs more fighters?”
I looked around and I saw a world armored up, people afraid to smile at each other. I saw people afraid to be seen as weak and always having to strain and struggle to prove themselves. I saw what I’d been in abundance.
“No,” I finally admitted, “There seems to be a lot of that. But, then, what am I? What should I be?”
“You,” the voice spoke to me, this time from inside me, welling up from my heart in tears that came so much more easily finally, “are meant to feel. You are meant to cry at sad movies and hurt children. You are meant to care deeply and love. You are meant to be the soft place those you love find comfort. You are meant to be protected and treasured so that others can enjoy feeling strong and capable. You are meant to live in your heart. Your greatest battle is with yourself, to find the humility to be what you need to be, what I want from you, not what the world says you should be.”
“You…are meant to be weak and that takes more strength than fighting.”
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