Defeat is not bitter unless you swallow it.
How do you help a friend who never asks for help?
Women are incredibly strong and delicately resilient. We move through life like the well worn pages of our favorite chapter in the Bible, coupled with unique wrinkles, markings, and creases. Many of us glide into each phase of becoming what others need, sometimes without pausing to use those same skills for ourselves.
Oh Martha, have you ever seen Mary weep? Get your favorite cup of hot tea and sit for a few sacred moments at Jesus’ feet. I’ve got a story to tell you that will help you not pull your hair out while tidying up and preparing that five course meal you planned the second you heard a guest was coming for dinner.
I used to think it was a badge of honor to be considered a strong work horse. The go-to girl. The dependable friend. You know, the one that would lay down her life for her friends? Yeah, that chick. The Abigail who mounts her horse to save ungrateful people from themselves and assuage the angst of those who were admittedly against them.
We have so much on our plates with our vision boards, cute planners and journals, on top of the spreadsheets on our laptops. But when your soul is no longer satisfied with the status quo, how much energy will you have left to disrupt the confines of patriarchy and peach cobbler?
My best friend called me one night, shaking with panic, despair, and questions that I couldn’t answer. Could I be brave enough to allow my carefully walled vulnerability to seep through the pauses in our conversation? I wondered what it would look like to say, “Sister, me too. I can’t help you. I’m tired too.” I mean, what would she think? God forbid I not be there for her the way she has been for me!
That night, I tucked my issues away in order to talk her down enough to sleep. When we hung up the phone, I dropped to my knees in sheer exhaustion, hoping that someone would sense that I needed help just as badly as my friend did.
Most of the women I know don’t like asking for help. This is weakness masquerading as strength when it’s used as a weapon of control over others. So how do we know who to ask and when to ask?
Jesus said in John: “Up until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask so that I can give it to you so that your joy may be full.”
Sarcastically, I’ve wanted to tell Him, “Look, I’ve asked and you haven’t answered and I’m staring to get really upset that you’re taking so long. Oh, and by the way, Jesus, before you hit me with the scriptural recall, I already know what you said about patience having her perfect work. That’s actually what I wanted to speak with you about anyway. Why does patience have to have a feminine gender? With all of the thankless things women do that never end, now you also want us to be patient? What about the men? I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by your syntax, but I could use some divine clarity on that one!”
Just thinking that I was bold enough to confront God as Job did sends chills down my spine, and not in a good way. I know God isn’t sexist. But I still need answers, and perhaps they will come when I no longer desire to look for them. Until then, I’ll just smile, wave, and pretend that everything is ok, knowing in my heart that it’s not. I’m tired of seeing my sisters hurting and I am tired of being hurt too.
Eventually, Jesus interrupted me. He said, “I Am the Word. I’ve sent you words, and I will not override your free will. I placed my words in your mouth. It’s not my responsibility to carry them out.”
Shrinking down like a little kid who knows when they made a mistake, I uttered, “Forgive me as I forgive myself. I know what to do now.”
“Put your big-girl pants on,” my Granny would tell me. But here is the problem with that: I don’t fit in them anymore, and they don’t fit me.
At my wit’s end, I remembered a quote I wrote five years ago: “Always be sure to tie up loose ends so that they don’t tear down or tear away from new beginnings.”
As I close this chapter of my life, I no longer feel like a failure if I take time for me. Everyone has been afraid of something. That was my fear: disappointing others who depended on me. But I’ve learned that women who rest well, recover all!
Girl, go get your stuff!
Natasha Stevens is passionate about humanitarian efforts ranging from empowering girls and women through education, writing, counseling, and speaking engagements, to hands on mission work in various places, including the eradication of forced child labor and early marriage through human trafficking. She loves a hearty laugh in summer gardens as much as a healthy bowl of oats in winter. She enjoys interacting with people from all walks of life, giving back where needed, and ministering the love and grace of Jesus without a title.
Boundaries….I was not taught healthy boundaries growing up – the work ethic reigned above all else in our home. But I’m learning how to set healthier boundaries for myself as I hopefully gain wisdom with age. I applaud you for doing the same! The line, “I used to think it was a badge of honor to be considered a strong work horse,” was the motto I’d lived by also. You ended this piece with with, ” But I’ve learned that women who rest well, recover all!” was so beautiful to read. I hope your journey towards wellness and wholeness continues and that as you rest along the way you encounter much beauty and peace. Blessings to you!
Thank you so much. I’m definitely on a course correction and learning to mean my “no” as often as I say it. I’m also glad that you found your boundary lines as well! We will recover all!