Sometimes one unexpected question can change the way you see yourself. For me, the question was asked after a lecture on domestic violence in one of my sociology questions. A young female student raised her hand and asked, “How did you become such a strong woman after all that you have been through?” I stopped and stared at her, suddenly speechless, mainly because I had never considered myself as a strong woman.
Yet, as I stood there looking at the faces of my students, I realized that my students, having heard my stories, had a vastly different vision of me than I had of myself. I had lived the stories, but I had never really changed the way I saw myself, even though I acknowledged that I had came a long way from where I started. Even when we have survived the ugliness of our childhood and become the people no one expected us to become, too often our perception of ourselves does not change, which prevents us from celebrating our successes. That was the case for me, until that moment when a student essentially recognized that I was indeed “more than a conqueror.”
I hesitantly answered, “My strength comes from my faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ.” The hesitation resulted from my belief that I should not bring my faith into the classroom. I did not want my students to think that I was proselytizing them, attempting to, as King Agrippa said to the Apostle Paul in Acts 26:28, “persuade them to be a Christian.” But, there was no other answer to the question, for my survival and the strength to stand and tell stories of rejection, abandonment, and extreme violence against my person were directly related to the evidence from my life history that God saw my oppressions and came down from heaven and rescued me (Exodus 3: 7-8).
I did not elaborate any further, but I did tell them each one of them to never forget that every human being has value and worth and is priceless because of their uniqueness, so look for the humanity in every person and to never allow anyone to tell them that they are worthless. As the students filed out, nearly all of them, including the guys, stopped and gave me a hug. It was one of those days in which you feel that you have lived your “Why,” meaning you just knew that you had fulfilled your purpose for being alive at this particular moment in time.
But, I must tell you that there are days still when I do not feel strong at all. In fact, I often feel very fragile, mostly because I know that trials and tribulations too great for me to handle alone can occur in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, even as I teach and preach God’s Word, my faith is not as strong as I need it to be, and, in those moments, I have to remind myself that the same Savior who brought me through the fires of mental illness, the potentially deadly waters of domestic violence, and the tornado-like winds of cancer and other health issues is the same God who will rescue me again.
Yes. I am one strong cookie, for I have been through some real hurricanes, but I am still human, and as human beings, we are fragile creatures who need a Source of strength greater than us, and, for me, that is El Shaddai, God Almighty. Let us recognize our strengths and the One responsible for our survival, but also remember that as long as we occupy these mortal bodies that are daily subjected to amazing amounts of stress and pain, we are also very fragile beings. God Bless!
As the students filed out of the