Weakness: A powerful feminine attribute

I doubt anyone has ever been called “weak” and blushed a shade of rose while uttering a humble “thank you.” By most standards, such a qualification would be considered a criticism, not a compliment. So, how must women receive the fact that, for all of history, we have been denoted “the weaker sex”? The more common, knee-jerk reaction is, of course, that of modern feminists: prove that we are not the weaker sex, but rather we are just as strong as men. The far less popular response is to recognize the unique beauty of women and endeavor to understand the power of weakness. To do so, we must cast aside the lens of modern society and take up the lens of Christianity. It is through this lens that we can see reality and truth in all its splendor.

Finding strength in our weakness

According to the world, weakness is failure. It is an avenue to defeat because it is a sign of imperfection and helplessness. Ironically, the latter half of that sentence is true: Weakness is a sign of imperfection and helplessness, but rather than lead to defeat, this has the potential to lead to great triumph. The caveat is that, for it to lead to triumph, one must acknowledge and accept one’s weakness. (More on this later.) Because the modern mind does not know that weakness can very well be a path to victory, it tramples upon it as a most undesirable trait. Weakness is not wanted. So, the feminist cries, “Women are not weak! We can be strong just like men.” Interestingly, this merely reduces womanhood to nothing more than a desperate attempt to become something it is not. Feminists are ashamed of female attributes like weakness, so they urge women to take on male attributes.

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Of course, we are not discussing pure physical weakness and strength. Anyone who has witnessed a mother giving birth, a farm wife laboring alongside her husband, or an Olympic athlete claiming her gold medal knows that women have the capacity for a great degree of physical strength. Still, we are the “weaker sex” because we have the greater ability to humbly recognize our neediness and receive aid. We have the greater ability to soften so as to become a comfortable dwelling for the sad, broken, little and lonely. We have the greater ability to set aside pride and prowess so as to stoop in love to those who cower. Since the beginning of time, men, who, in fact, do have the capacity for greater physical strength, have had the unique role of protector and provider. Women have had the unique role of bearer and nurturer. While women carry and nurture life, men protect and provide for it. Women are aware that their role is not strength, but gentleness and warmth, which ought to be sheltered by men.

Our weakness, then, is complementary to the strength of men, but it is more than this. It is a gift that enables us to more readily know our Father. A son, eager to assert his dominance and manliness, walks apart from his father to shoulder heavy loads alone. A daughter, humbly aware that she cannot shoulder such loads, runs to her father and sweetly asks for his aid. As children of God, we must all see that we are weak and helpless so that we do not fall into the error of self-sufficiency and a dangerous desire for control. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he writes that the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). He goes on to write: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10). Christ’s power is most deeply found in our weakness, for our weakness allows his power to flow in and through us like a coursing river. Our feminine weakness, then, is not our downfall; it is our greatest power!

Beauty in the delicate

As aforementioned, this power can only be realized when we embrace our weakness and allow the Lord to step into it. Practically, we can do this by frequently calling upon our Father as we go about our day-to-day duties. We can renounce the lie that tells us we have to be perfect and, instead, rejoice when we fail, for we can then witness the Lord’s forgiveness and assistance and might. We can allow ourselves to be weak in front of others — whether it be allowing our husbands to haul the heavy boxes of seasonal decor to the attic, our friends to bring us meals when we are recovering from childbirth, or even strangers to simply open the door for us. We can allow ourselves to shed tears of joy at the sight of something beautiful, weep at our brokenness and cry to the Father, and utter the words that we are too often (and unnecessarily) ashamed to say: “Can you please help me?” We can show the world that weakness is not a scourge, but rather who we are as beings made of dust. And we can show the world that, because of our Creator, who we are is beautiful and good.

When a woman is pregnant, her immune system weakens. It does so to allow her body to grow her child. This weakness ultimately brings forth a greater strength: new life! God did not err when he made woman. He made her lovely, in his image. He made her to be like a porcelain vase — more easily broken than say a rod of iron, but capable of holding precious, delicate blooms and breathing beauty (which is, in fact, quite powerful) into life.

Woman is, in many ways, the weaker sex. But this is not an insult. This is a great gift that allows us to draw near to the Father, receive lovingly from others, grow in humility, show the world gentleness and tenderness, and bring forth new life. When we are weak, we allow his strength to reign. When his strength reigns within us, then we are strong. Our weakness is our strength. It is humanity’s strength.

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