How Do You Define Strength?

How do you define strength? What does it mean to be a strong woman?

I cried today. 

Not the silent tear cry either. 

I’m talking about that loud, snotty-nosed, my great-grandma-just-died ugly cry. 

Streams of warm tears bathed my cheeks, and for once, I allowed them to do so. I welcomed their presence. 

Hurt, confusion, and anguish have a way of making me bow down on my knees to my God. 

For far too long, my inner Gladiator would not allow me to shed a tear. 

“I have to be strong,” I reminded myself. 

Strong women don’t cry.

At least that’s what I told myself. Why shed tears if they could not move mountains? Why shed tears if they could not make food appear on the table and shoes on your baby’s feet? 

Tears would not help me. So, I abandoned them. In fact, I shunned them. 

I didn’t have time for puffy eyes and flushed cheeks. I had work to do. My family needed me for emotional support, educational guidance, and spiritual advice. Students needed me to help them choose the right classes, the right university, and the right way to pay for their dream. 

Like I said, I couldn’t be seen with my head in my hands, tornado-stricken hair, and raccoon eyes. There was no time for it. 

Professional women don’t get that luxury. We have to prove our strength. We have to prove we can hang with the biggest and baddest men folk in the game. We have to prove we didn’t skeet our way to the top. We need everyone to know we earned our right to be where we are.

That’s why my inner Gladiator tried to take away my tears. 

But did I need protection from those around me or from myself?

Life taught me that crying was equivalent to feebleness. I didn’t want that label. I didn’t want to be called “The Weak One” or “The Crier”. I wanted to be like Michelle Obama and Oprah. I wanted to be known as a strong, beautiful, and intelligent woman of color. 

Knowing this, I still cried today. I pushed out every tear and searched for more. I no longer wanted to cry; I needed to cry. 

I needed to heal. 

I needed to evict every thought that held me captive. I needed to expose every fear that kept me bound. 

So, I cried. I laid my disbelief, my heartache, my confusion, and my hatred at His feet. 

After a long breath, I wiped my eyes with the back of my wet hands.  I refueled with some yogurt and red grapes and got back to work. 

I’m choosing to believe that being strong doesn’t mean I won’t cry. Being strong means trusting in my Creator and embracing every lesson that comes my way.


What does it mean "to be strong"? Tell us about a time you were strong in the comments below. Remember, this is a no stone-casting side of the Internet. :o)