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You are brave.
You are courageous.
You are strong.
You are a warrior.
You are a soldier for Christ.
Lately I’ve noticed this language is everywhere in books and blogs for women. Life is a battle, and we are the brave soldiers fighting the good fight, waking up everyday to face the world with our heads held high.
That’s how the narrative goes. And Christian women hear it a lot.
On the one hand, I appreciate this language because it’s a lot better than the alternative. Few women see themselves as damsels in distress. Between having babies, raising children, leading ministries, writing books, and advancing careers–this is not damsel behavior.
I suppose that’s why the warrior language is so appealing. Much of life feels like it’s done in the trenches. No matter what life slings our way, all of us must soldier on. There is a dignity and empowerment in that.
I get it.
But here’s the thing. Most days, I don’t feel like a warrior.
Most days, I don’t feel very strong. Many days, I feel weak and fragile, and the slightest offense can crush my spirit completely. There are times when I feel pathetic, like a complete weirdo loser. I don’t feel courageous at all.
For some women, the warrior language is inspiring, and I don’t want to take away from that. Some women need a call to arms. The rallying cry stirs something deep within them that’s a catalyst to action. And some of those women are doing genuinely brave things. I see that, and I want to affirm it.
But let me add one thing.
Sometimes, that warrior language isn’t enough. There are days when I feel weak and tired and discouraged, and being a warrior feels about as possible as climbing Mount Everest.
On those days, it’s tempting to sneer at my weakness, to feel ashamed of my inability to buck up and get on with it. The call to warrior-hood sounds only like a taunt.
But God has been replacing that shame with delight by reminding my heart of this one great truth:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Cor. 12:9
Sometimes I face trials that I am not strong enough to fight, and struggles that I cannot overcome on my own. Sometimes I will fail. And I have failed. No amount of summoning up my inner warrior can change that.
But that’s ok, because my ability to conquer life’s battles does not require me to conquer at all. Somebody already did that for me. So my power comes not from my own strength, but from the One whose power is made perfect in weakness.
Jesus is the victor. Jesus is the conqueror. Jesus is the one who overcame sin and death so that I don’t have to. Jesus is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than any hardship I face. He makes all the brokenness of this world submit to him.
He and no one else.
That’s why the reminders that “You are a warrior!” have started to ring a little hollow. Sure, the Bible uses plenty of “solider” imagery to describe the Christian call, so there is a place for it, no doubt.
But. Any message that inspires women on the basis of their inner fortitude, their courage, their perseverance, their sacrifice–it can only take women so far.
What women really need–at least, what I really need–is the good news of Christ. My freedom, my success, my victory, none of it comes from me or my ability to do anything. None of that stuff originates in me, which is why it can become a rather heavy burden, having to summon up those brave identities day after day.
For me, making myself into a “warrior” has felt like a battle in itself.
That’s why I love the freedom and lightness of surrendering to Christ. I simply cast all my cares upon the One whose shoulders are infinitely broader than mine, and let Him do the heavy lifting.
I do hope you will “fight the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7). I hope you will “press on, taking hold of that for which Christ took hold of you” (Phil. 3:12). I hope you will do all of this as “a good soldier in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3).
But do all of it remembering that in the grand story of God, you are not the hero. You are the one who is rescued–from sin, from death, from inadequacy, from failure, from weakness, from hopelessness.
And that does not make you a loser. That makes you free.
Not one of us has the strength or righteousness to fight our way out of life’s battles. Not a one. But we know the God who does, and He can carry us through them all.