Can you picture her? This incredible she, who never worries or feels weak? Where is this laughing woman, I want to know, who is dignified and strong? Is she a goddess? Is she for real?
I didn’t include an image in this post, even a photo of a landscape or something abstract, because I think everyone who has heard of this Proverbs woman has a different idea of what she looks like and the kind of aura she radiates. Maybe an image of her has yet to clearly form in your mind.
Women are many things. When I think of what I am, the words “strong,” “dignified,” and “fearless” don’t really pop into my mind, at least at first. First I might think I am creative, thoughtful, and quiet. These are words others have used to describe me over and over. What words have others used to describe you? Do they really fit you, down in your soul?
When I am by myself, I have my worries. “Fearful” sometimes creeps in onto the list of things I call myself. I think my greatest struggle against fear happens during times of transition. With each season of change, even the predictable ones like school year to summer time (when I mostly know what to expect), there is always the question in the back of my mind, What if something happens now that I can’t handle?
What if I don’t like my new job?
What if I don’t save enough money?
What if this is all too much for me?
When other people get excited for upcoming change, I feel uncertainty well up inside of me. “She laughs without fear of the future,” makes me think What’s so funny about the future? There is too much to plan for, to secure, to worry about. I found myself looking around Paper Source for 2015 calendars this week before realizing that they haven’t been made yet – that’s enough to make someone laugh! It kind of makes it obvious what I (almost obsessively) seek to have control over in my life, doesn’t it?
During times of transition, when my future is changing, vague fears wedge themselves into little cracks in my well being, letting in rivers of worry that keep me up at night and weary in the daytime. I wear myself out trying to think of every possible problem that could crop up and develop action plans to deal with the imaginary problems. I seem to almost have a shift in personality because so much of my conscious self is devoted to this imaginary problem solving. If you have known me during one of these such times, you know that it is not very pretty for me.
Are there parts of life that make you feel like you are cracking and very fragile? We all have different fears and insecurities, usually based on experiences from when we were very young. (i.e. Money is hard to come by. It’s horrible if you don’t have enough. If you don’t help yourself, no one else will. Be careful to not make mistakes. Be careful how you look. Don’t do stupid things.)
What does it mean to be clothed with strength and dignity? To be able to laugh without fear of the future? Have you met someone who fits this description? I don’t know about you, but I long for these kinds of traits. I yearn to feel stronger than my problems, to be tried but remain dignified, while sustaining joy in my heart.
I still struggle with facing transitions, but over the years I have begun making little attempts at assuaging my anxiety during these times. Here are some meditations of the heart that have helped me begin to heal. If you are like me and are sometimes afraid of change, maybe they will help you too.
- Write a list of things to look forward to before, during and after a transition. It could be having your weekends free when you didn’t before, or an event like a trip or concert. If you can’t think of anything, plan something.
- Practice laughing at the difficult things in life. If you can’t laugh, try to at least find the humor in a ridiculous situation. I know someone who has the most irresistible mischievous grin that spreads across her face when she is met with unusual challenges. I want to be like that. On the verge of a giggle when something outrageous happens. Though it may not feel like it, problems are passing. Take them in for what they are.
- Be grateful for right now. Be present in this moment, and don’t think too much about the future, or get fooled into taking yourself too seriously.
- Trust that when a problem or challenge arises, you are a person who is capable enough of making decisions and taking steps to solve them, and you don’t have to have all the answers right now. Know that you are not alone, whether or not you feel like it, and there are people around you to reach out to when you need help. Trust that God is in control, he will give you strength, and will help you through everything.
- Serve others. Volunteer or participate in a ministry. Help people who have greater needs than you do. It will put your life and your challenges in perspective. When you practice acts of selflessness, this magical thing happens where you become forgetful of your own problems.
A personality test I once took actually reported to me that being “Futuristic” is one of my greatest strengths. Later in the training I learned that our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses if we let them get out of hand. It makes a lot of sense.
What if… We turned fears into our strengths? If a person consciously takes steps to overcome the thing that she’s been insecure about her whole life long, it will eventually become something she handles quite well, perhaps even better than the average bear. I would bet you that your own worst personal phobia is really your greatest strength waiting to be revealed, like a diamond in the rough just waiting to be polished. What will be your next greatest strength?
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future…” When you close your eyes and picture the timeless woman who laughs out loud at tomorrow with her hands on her hips, fully living life with strength and with dignity, who do you see?
May the woman you imagine look astonishingly like the lovely one you greet in the mirror each day. May she have your smirk, your hair in her face or your wrinkles around her eyes. Put your own face in the picture, a vision of the strong and fearless woman that is within you, and you will begin to see her more and more with your eyes open every passing day.
I think that every woman is strong in her unique way. What part of your life, possibly camouflaged as a weakness, is making you stronger deep down in your soul? A medical condition that you bravely battle each day? A loss of someone or something in your life? A challenge you’ve been facing at work? What are you learning to smile about that has given you grief in the past?
Link up: Here are some impressive women with stories of strength and dignity I have been admiring from my WordPress reader. Feel free to link your story to this post as a comment or pingback.
Be blessed on your journey,