• strength •

Last week, one of my friends pointed out how, sure, there are a lot of quiet and good women in the Bible but, hey, take a look at Jael who drove a tent peg through Sisera’s face with a hammer. Or look at Ruth. Esther. Deborah.

I mentioned that Judith was pretty hardcore too.

But then I realized that we tend to glorify the physical embodiment of strength and often forget or overlook the quiet battles people fight.

Take, for example, Jesus’ mother, Mary. I think many people overlook her because she was quiet. But if you think about it, she is one of the strongest women in history. She was asked to be GOD’S mother. She didn’t know fully what that meant, but she said yes anyway because He asked her and she trusted Him.

She listened to Simeon’s prophecy when Jesus was a baby and it’s said that she kept this in her heart. It’s one of the seven swords of sorrow which pierced her heart.

She watched her Son, whipped, bloody, spat on, half-dead, carry the piece of wood He would die on up a steep, steep hill. She watched the nails go through His Body and she watched Him die. She cradled her Son’s dead Body in her arms before laying Him in the tomb and watching the stone be rolled over the entrance.

But she didn’t abandon her faith and she didn’t run away. That requires more strength than beheading a man.

To me, the total, radical obedience to God is amazing, regardless of physical feats.

I think that, with the help of films and the internet, we’ve grown more accustomed to seeing strength. We see people in armor or camouflage wielding a sword, gun, or knife. We see a dude with muscles, veins, and a busted lip and go, “wow, he’s strong”. But we don’t look at the smiling woman with EDS and think, “I wish I had her strength”.

So I think that, while, yes, these women in the Bible who beheaded army commanders and drove tent pegs through their heads were courageous and strong, we need to keep in mind that they could not have done that without the meekness, humility, faith, and trust in God – the invisible strength – first.

We should always consider what had to happen to get a person to where they are or what they’re famous for before glorifying their position.

Maybe they don’t deserve their titles.

Maybe they deserve so much more.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

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• loser •

I don’t know about you, but it seems like everyone is obsessed with having a “squad” or “bestie” or something like that. Basically, a group of people you call friends and do absolutely everything with and, no matter what, you’ll stick together and have a great time doing nothing and you can say whatever comes to mind and talk about all your problems.

I don’t have one of those. Of course, I have friends – we’ve known each other since before we can remember. I’m not putting them down or trying to undermine or undervalue their presence in my life. I appreciate them so much. But we have lives. We don’t have time to do everything together. We don’t have the energy or means of accomplishing or achieving the typical “squad goals” or whatever. We don’t want to.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

I fee like society tells us that we need a group of people (or at least one) to call our own or there’s something wrong with us. We’re “loners”, “losers” (BIGBANG, I feel ya) – we’re basically the weirdos of society. We don’t fit in and we don’t belong. And someone told us that was pitiful.

But you know what?

Most aren’t as happy as they want us to believe when they spam your FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds with pictures of them and their buds with #mysquad.

Those of us who don’t have a squad and don’t pretend to – there’s nothing wrong with us. We just have higher standards for meaningful relationships. Or we’re just waiting for the right friendship. Or maybe we’re learning to be okay without someone else.

• Maybe we’re learning to own ourselves before claiming someone else. •

There’s nothing wrong with not having one or a group of people to lean on in hard times. Sure, it makes the hard times a bit harder, but we’ll survive.

“Honestly, I’ve never fit in with the world // I was always alone // It’s been a long time since I’ve forgotten about love // I can’t listen to hopeful love songs anymore // […] // I wanna go back to when I was young.”

• BIGBANG // Loser •

I felt this when I was in public and private school (kindergarten up to fifth grade). It was very difficult for me. I had to get up every morning and tell myself that I had friends. I was overthinking their behavior. I was overthinking the fact that I’d walk behind everyone and no one would tell me even once, “hey, walk with me” or “you go first this time”. Running across the field to grab forgotten lunch boxes even though I was the slowest out of the three of us wasn’t them being mean. I was being kind; I offered anyway. They weren’t taking advantage of that or trying to get rid of me. They weren’t making fun of me when I didn’t shop at Limited Too or watch Spongebob Squarepants like the rest of them. Nah.

In fifth grade, I began home schooling. I felt a sense of freedom and realized that I did not have to fit in with the other kids. They were shallow and I knew that. I just didn’t know how to step back. Now I did. Now, I was comfortable in my own skin.

Fast forward to that time I competed in speech and debate for five years. Everyone was kind and polite, but I didn’t feel accepted until I finished in 6th and then in 4th place in debate at two of the larger qualifying tournaments and made it to semi-finals with my speech three times during my last year. Enter that feeling of insufficiency as myself once again.

Skip to when the most honest friendship I had didn’t work out and I learned that saying forever doesn’t really mean forever. I still remember a birthday letter I received that said, “I’ll always be here for you”.

And that time the most important people to me didn’t show up for my eighth, thirteenth, fifteen, seventeenth, and eighteenth birthdays (Aly, I know you’re laughing at me). Sounds ridiculous, I know. But when you’re eight years old and realize that it’s inconvenient for someone who “loves you” to celebrate your existence, it does something to ya. ::shrugs:: And now you know why I hate birthdays.

None of this is to make you feel bad for the pitiful life I’ve led (because I know people who suffer much worse), but to emphasize that the times in which I have felt the darkest are the times when I have been the most alone.

• You don’t need a squad or bestie to overcome anything. •

Society tells us that, as long as you have one person with whom you can share your heart, you’ll be fine. Screw that. You don’t need a person. You have to learn to be strong enough without validation from other people. Society romanticizes the idea of friendship.

Friendship isn’t stupid selfies and cookies in the middle of the night. Lucky you if you have that. But friendship isn’t easy and it isn’t comprised of giggles or tears over your ex-boyfriend (sorry for undermining the emotional impact of Fifteen, Taylor Swift).

I’ve stopped wasting my time trying to justify other peoples’ actions so I might believe they care in order to feel better about myself; I’ve started trying to see things as they are. Maybe I’m bitter. Maybe I’m no fun. Maybe I’m a realist. Maybe I’m a loser.

But we’ve got the strength to deal with difficulties without a squad and we can persist without needing someone to cheer us on. We don’t depend on the validation of others anymore.

Instead, I’m learning to put my trust in God rather than in people.

I’m not saying having friends is a bad thing or hating on people with squads simply because I don’t have one. The point is this: we’ll be okay even if we’re on our own.

Love always,

Rana || xoxo