“Strong women make waves.” Sayings along these lines support a popular, favored notion in the public square today—the belief that women are strong, that women greatly contribute to society. I am among the many who uphold these sentiments, whose heart beats in accord with this anthem of recognition and empowerment. But, I am curious—what is this strength we refer to? And what does true strength mean?
Is this strength simply about doing it all? About carrying the load on our own? About muscling up and doing what was traditionally men’s work? About climbing to the top of the corporate ladder? None of these goals are inherently right or wrong. Women can be successful CEOs, or stay-at-home moms. They can be engineers or teachers, construction workers or secretaries. But when the myth that somehow strength is about what you do and how much you can muster into your already packed, color-coded schedule, we have sacrificed the true definition of strength for a lie that self-assertion is somehow a synonym.
Growing up attending Catholic school, there was abundant evidence of Mary every day. And while I saw her as a docile statue many a time, there was also something about her that intrigued me. Each day, as I walked to my classroom through the school cafeteria, I saw her foot crushing a serpent. I did not know at the time why she was crushing a snake, or what that meant, but I am beginning to now.
In RCIA class, I learned that just as Jesus is the new Adam, Mary is the new Eve. Whereas the old Eve in Genesis decided to cast God aside and make her own decisions, Mary received what God proclaimed to her and followed wherever he led. The former resulted in the fall and the reign of evil, but the second in the destruction of it. Through Mary’s yes and Jesus’ victory, the Devil is forever defeated.
So what is true strength?
It’s not about what you can do, it’s about what GOD can do.
It’s trust in the Lord and His plan, not our own agenda.
It’s receiving goodness and letting go of control.
It’s embracing the cross and uniting your suffering to His.
It’s leaning into your vocation.
It’s becoming the man or woman you were made to be.
This is how we will change the world. Not by solely our own doing, but by pointing our strength and zeal always back to its Source.
Mary, Stella Maris, Star of the Sea, pray for us!
Emily is currently a senior at Whitworth University, studying Elementary Education with ELL and Theology minors. She loves hiking, crafting, blogging, singing her heart out to tunes on the daily, spending time with those she loves, watching British TV, leading women’s ministry, and all things Catholic. You can follow her blog @thecrazycatholic on Instagram, or subscribe to her website https://thecrazycatholic.home.blog/.