God’s grace sustains us through our beginnings and endings. Losing my mom when I was twenty felt like the end of being a daughter and the beginning of being a mother to my younger siblings—my sister and brother. I grew up very quickly in the four and a half years between my mom’s funeral and my wedding. I became more responsible for myself—and for my father and siblings as well. There is a weightiness to becoming a matriarch. So, I learned to fully embrace that I am a strong woman and a leader.
I don’t wear the “strong woman” title as a badge of honor, as if I had a blue leotard with a Superwoman emblem on my chest and a red cape flying in the wind—not anymore, anyway. I used to be the StrongBlackWoman that Chanequa Walker-Barnes describes:
[She] is the woman who constantly extends herself on behalf of others. In her intimate and family relationships, on her job, and in her church and community, she is the “go to” woman, the one upon whom others depend when they need assistance, counsel, or comfort. Driven by a deeply ingrained desire to be seen as helpful and caring, she is practically incapable of saying no to others’ requests without experiencing feelings of guilt and worthlessness. As her willingness to help repeatedly reinforces others’ tendencies to ask her for help, her very nature becomes defined by multitasking and over-commitment.
I still multitask, but I have learned to say no by establishing boundaries, setting aside the responsibilities that do not belong to me, and asking for help.
I have also learned that strong is not always the opposite of weak. Strong is knowing your own power and exercising it humbly. In his book Strong and Weak, Andy Crouch writes, “What we truly admire in human beings is not authority alone or vulnerability alone—we seek both together.” Being a strong black woman is knowing quite deeply that the two—strength and weakness, authority and vulnerability—can coexist. This knowing is often born out of much suffering and sorrow.
Strong is knowing your own power and exercising it humbly.
*Taken from A Sojourner’s Truth by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Copyright (c) 2018 by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com