When Strength is Your Weakness


I’m not usually a vulnerable person. I’m the “strong” one. The one with thick skin, who shoulders everyone else’s problems. I’m the gal who fixes all the “things,” the glue that holds my family together. I more often than not, put everyone before myself. I’m the plate spinner in the circus at home and at work. And, I don’t cry.

I once thought being “strong” was my best character trait. 

However, I recently had this epiphany. I am now realizing “strong” may actually be my weakness. The idea that my strength-- the very thing I took pride in--could actually be getting in the way of what God has planned for my life, stopped me in my tracks.  I am a person who thrives on being told I’m “strong” emotionally, mentally or physically.  So, with this recent realization, I started seeing my strength was preventing me from being vulnerable, which could pose a problem.  

But, how could my strength be my weakness?

This all came about while I was praying. I was asking God to show me why I’m stuck, why I can’t seem to move forward in my relationships. I was asking him why I lack confidence and cannot muster up belief in myself. And during that prayer time, I started looking back. 

You see, I was a shy kid due to medical issues which caused me to have no voice for ten years. I could only whisper and let’s just say, “girls are mean.” I broke out of my shyness by enlisting in the Marine Corps. For most of my life, my friends were mainly men because they didn’t require the touchy feel-y stuff.  In my mid-20s one of my few girlfriends referred to me as her “needy friend” and right then I made a decision-- I would not be that girl anymore.  Right then, I made the choice to be the “strong one” and started building up my layers of protection, my wall.

And in prayer that day, I believe God invited me to take down the walls and soften my thick skin. I could rest in simply being me.  I also believe in letting down my walls and sharing my story, my accomplishments, and my pain-- it may help women let down their walls too. 

We see so many posts on social media about “strong” women and raising “strong” girls.  I hope that in teaching our girls to be “strong,” we’re not teaching them vulnerability is weakness. Are we inadvertently encouraging them to build up walls, and discouraging them from being real? There is a time to be strong as a woman, to rise up,  and to be true to yourself. However, it’s also okay to have a soft side.  

I can cry when I need to, I can ask for help, I can be vulnerable. 

Ask yourself today, “what is my strongest character trait?” And then take a hard look to see if that trait may be the very thing holding you back from growing and reaching others.

Written by: Denise Johnson

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