March is when we celebrate women’s history month. One of the greatest compliments that someone could ever give me is to tell me that I’m a strong person. Strength is a characteristic that I truly admire. We’re all born with various degrees of strength that God intends for us to cultivate.
Strength is a characteristic that I struggle every day to maintain. I’ve lived the majority of my life always feeling less than. Like I’m not enough. Needless to say, allowing people’s views of me to shape my own perception of what I’m capable of accomplishing caused some of my blessings to be delayed in my life. This is why some of the blessings that I dreamed about are just now coming to fruition.
Cultivating the negativity that people spoke into my life caused me to experience a delay in receiving my blessings. I should have cultivated what God’s word said about me; not internalized people’s negative thoughts about me. Listening and implementing the word of God in my life, would have led me to my purpose in life much sooner.
Acknowledging my place and taking ownership in being a part of God’s royal priesthood would have alleviated most of my pain. Cultivating negativity instead of positivity is why it took me a while to receive my blessings.
Having a less than enough or victim mentality kept me from growing in grace. Having this mentality is dangerous. It is a sure-fire way to delay and/or miss out on all the blessings God has in store for you. Deep down I knew this less than enough mentality was wrong. That’s why I kept associating with strong people that I admired thinking that their strength would somehow rub off on me. What I failed to realize is that there are no shortcuts to having a successful life.
Developing the attributes of Christ such as strength, courage, etc. does not work by riding on someone else’s work. Eventually, we all have to do our own work so we can know how to properly apply God’s word to our life. Yet, getting rid of this lazy mentality is easier said than done.
I learned the hard way that becoming a strong person doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of overcoming the ups and downs of life without giving in to the pressure of adverse circumstances. Only then can you consider yourself a Phenomenal Woman.
Strong women are well aware that if all you see is what you see then you’re not seeing all there is to be seen. Their tenacity enables them to keep going even when the world is falling apart around them. My mom is a phenomenal woman. I’ve noticed that people like my mom and other strong women are able to keep their eyes on the prize because they have been able to do the following on a consistent basis:
Accept how God views you
Most people would assume that I am a positive person. For the most part, this is true. I speak positivity into everyone else’s life except my own. Again, I have allowed some of the setbacks that I have encountered in life to bring me down. I allowed those circumstances to dictate my ability to see and accept how God views me.
When you make the decision to become a Christian, God said in 1 Pet. 2:9, “ …You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession . . .”
God is expecting you to live your life with this view of yourself in mind. In doing so, you will inspire and uplift others to do the same. You can’t do this if you don’t know God’s word. In order to know how God views you, you must read and daily meditate on His word (Joshua 1:8). His word has the answers to all our problems. God’s word helps us to overcome every valley that we’re bound to encounter in life.
Reading, meditating, and properly applying the knowledge we gained from His word will place you in a position to discover the plans God has for you (Jer 29:11). Through this process, many of us may be shocked to learn that Christians were born to be leaders. However, this feeling of leadership and strength is not something that all of us automatically accept. Some of us have to be convinced that we possess valiant leadership qualities like Esther, loyalty like Ruth, or trust God to guide us like He did Mary (Christ’s mother).
Regardless of what camp you find yourself in, you can’t lead from behind. If you’re constantly comparing yourself to the world, you’re headed down a self-destructive path (Roman 12:2). God has different plans for us to achieve in our lives (Eph 3:20). However, we will never find out what those plans are if we’re not willing to put Him first in our lives (Matt 6:33).
God is a jealous God (1 John 2:15). After all, He has every right to be since He made us (Gen 1:27). Therefore, if we want to have a relationship with Him we need to make sure we’re ALL in. God doesn’t like double-minded people (James 1:8). This is why Christ said, “ . . . I wish you were cold or hot . . .” (Rev 3:15-17).
We would never be friends with someone who is friends with us one minute and then friends with our enemies the next minute. We would never consider that person’s behavior the beginnings of a beautiful friendship; yet, this is how many of us treat God. What we fail to realize is that God refuses to be treated this way.
Since we refuse to make up our mind and choose a side, God will do it for us (Rev 3:16). God has more respect for those who pick a side—even if it’s not His (Joshua 24:15). In order to be a strong person, especially a woman, we must pick a side and diligently work towards that outcome. This building process encourages us to take time to define what success looks like for you.
Decide what success looks like for you
So many women fall into the trap of wanting to please others while they lose themselves in the process. You’re so afraid of what other people think that if you don’t live up to someone else’s perception of what you should be that you’re a failure. Many women, especially Christian women, believe that having a husband and kids is the only pathway to living a “fulfilled” life.
I’m not throwing any shade at anyone who chooses the aforementioned path for themselves. However, we must realize that marriage does not automatically produce happiness. Only you can make yourself happy. Happiness comes from within. Happiness is an attribute of Christ that has to be cultivated in order for you to receive its benefits.
In other words, a husband, kids, etc. can only help aid happiness. They do not create happiness within us. In order to enjoy your husband, kids, etc. you must already have this attribute within you. A similar principle applies to success.
Only you can make yourself happy. Happiness comes from within. It is an attribute of Christ. All of which means that happiness has to be cultivated so that its fruit manifests. Only you can determine what success looks like for you. I want you to take a moment to sit back, relax and write a list of pros and cons in order to help you describe what success really looks like to you.
I did the exact aforementioned exercise. I used to think that I wanted to be married with kids and be a stay-at-home mom like my mom was until we got into middle school. Once I got older my mom was brutally honest and shared the difficulties she encountered while raising my sister and me, I saw some of those issues she experienced playing out in my friends’ lives, and the lack of justice and peace in this world really doesn’t leave me feeling like I want to bring a new life into this world.
I’m going to be 39 in July. I’ve never been married and I don’t have any children. Again, by society’s standards, something must be wrong with me. Some people have even had the audacity to ask me, “What’s wrong with me?” If I allow myself to internalize and accept this nonsense mentality that the world tries to project onto me I would have inadvertently ended up making a mess of my life by marrying the first guy I saw.
Here’s the thing, I was raised to have standards. There’s a lot of losers out there. I KNOW have a lot to offer so I will never dumb myself down nor do I want a man mistaking me for a doormat. I know what I’m looking for, so I don’t need to go on practice dates. Unless that man I meet checks every one of those boxes on my checklist, it’s not worth my time and effort to be in a relationship with him. God blessed me with family and friends, a great career, and awesome side hustles/hobbies that more than satisfy me and occupy my time.
Plus, again, I have absolutely no desire to have kids so I’m even more not in a rush to meet Mr. Right. I’m more than content living my jet-setting carefree life. Even if the marriage thing ends up not being in the cards for me, I am more than content to be like Christ, Apostle Paul (1 Cor 7), and countless others in the Bible who remained single. I’d rather be happy and single than married and miserable.
So many women feel stuck in less than ideal situations from both single and married backgrounds. Many times this can be attributed to the fact we’re so busy trying to please others that we don’t realize how much personal baggage that we’re carrying around. If you hop into a relationship without addressing that baggage, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
You will be constantly projecting your insecurity, fear, worries, etc. onto your spouse. This is why we should not rush into a relationship until we have fully resolved issues in our lives. We should not allow our distorted emotions to dictate our actions. Loneliness can be misunderstood. Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely if you’re willing to work on your relationship with God (Matt 28:20, Deut 31:6). Speaking from firsthand experience, I lead a very fun, satisfying life. While you’re working on your relationship with God don’t be surprised if He reveals some talents that you didn’t know existed.
Monitor your progress
When you’re developing a new habit, the best way to monitor your progress is by keeping a checklist. A checklist will help keep you honest in your endeavor to stay on the right path. I have noticed that whenever I don’t use a checklist, I end up slipping back into my old ways.
If you are being honest with yourself, creating a checklist will help you to
- Identify which areas of your life you need to work on
- Hold you accountable for your growth
- Provide you a benchmark so you can visually see how many days you have been consistently working towards your new transformation.
In case you’re not sure how to create your own transformation checklist, be sure to download the free Phenomenal Woman Checklist on the Hustle in Faith website. If you need a physical reminder, feel free to check out my StarenguCrew apparel and gift shop.
When you accept how God views you, you’re going to reduce the time it takes for you to define your idea of success. Remember, you’re going to encounter a variety of obstacles along the way. Keeping track of your progress is going to help ensure and reinforce that you’re on the right path.
Regardless of how many times you fall during your journey and trust me you will fall, make sure you get right back up and keep going so you can be the phenomenal woman God wants you to be.
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