It’s been about sixteen years since I walked into my Pastor’s office and visited with him about a proposal I had received. Brandon had asked me to marry him and I said yes! Was the occasion accompanied with accolades and jubilation? No, not at all. Our families were quite supportive of our dating relationship, but when it came to the discussion of marriage, we encountered many objections. Why? Because at the time of our engagement, I was seventeen, a senior in high school; and he was barely eighteen, a college freshman. What experiences in our life could give us the assurance we were making the right choice for the rest of our life?
I expected to receive the same questioning from my Pastor, but I didn’t. The only words I remember was, “Heather, you’re an SWW.” I knew what that was. In today’s time, it deserves a hash tag. Before social media, it was simply an acronym he used meaning, “Strong Willed Woman.” And he asked me what date we were planning for the wedding.
It was one of the first decisions I made without the encouragement from those I loved. It was the first time I silenced the voices around me and solely listened to my Heavenly Father’s. My mom wouldn’t even discuss wedding plans with me until five months before our wedding. My friends kept asking, “How do you really know?” And realistically, there was no way to prove what I knew in my heart and my spirit. For a person who greatly appreciates the support and agreement of others, it was challenging for me to proceed with what I knew was God’s plan for my life.
But I did proceed with His plan. It hasn’t always been easy. It sure would’ve been smoother for Brandon to have completed his engineering degree or me to have completed my nursing degree before we got married, or before we built a house, or before we had children, but easy isn’t always fulfilling, because the Lord sometimes calls us to do what’s difficult. And His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), so although we’ve had times of challenge, there’s no other way I’d have wanted to go about it.
During my quiet time several months ago I read Psalm 68. Verse 11 came off the page. It reads:
The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng
Different translations interchange “women” and “company,” but I was reading the New International Version at the time and it spoke volumes to my heart. In those times, I’m reminded of Hebrews 4:12, telling us The Word is alive. The Lord uses His Word to speak to us in anything and everything we encounter. And this scripture was so timely, emphasizing the mighty women who proclaim God’s Word.
It may seem speaking truth and love wouldn’t take a mighty woman, but on the contrary it requires even the mightier. Sometimes proclaiming God’s Word doesn’t fit with what people want to hear or what they want to happen or even what they understand, so they reject it, meaning they may reject you. Through trials, through rejection, through persecution, the message doesn’t change.
I’m prompted to think of some SWWs I see today. Silencing the voices of naysayers, a young single woman stepping out in faith, responding to the calling God placed on her heart to foster a baby. Enduring the heartache, my friend, standing strong in a long divorce process, painfully confronting dishonesty and unfaithfulness. Pressing on, a woman bravely speaks for justice in her work place, a holy determination to expel the darkness with the light of Jesus.
These memories, these women and this scripture bring encouragement to my heart. Relationships change when words spoken are spiraled and twisted like a thrilling roller coaster. Close bonds are broken when time and distance are forced between them. Life looks different. Memories are cherished. The focus becomes the future.
It’s surely not easy being an SWW, but it is a choice. Not everyone wants to be strong. But if you do, be prepared. We are strengthened through what we endure. And while the Lord’s plans for our life is for good and not harm (Jeremiah 29:11), there is an enemy on the attack. With each battle, each obstacle, each barrier and hurdle, God is making you stronger. Your heart, your spirit, your integrity, your security in Him, your identity in Him, your reliance on His hand to be at work and not your own, your confidence that He will move on your behalf, your resolve, your commitment, your assurance; it’s all becoming stronger.
SWWs are not made; they’re developed.
The next opportunity that comes your way, choose to build strength.
Remember, sometimes the Lord calls us to speak, sometimes He calls us to be silent, sometimes the Lord wants us to take action and other times be still. Yes, sometimes we have to quiet those around us to make sure we are hearing only His voice.
Let’s sharpen one another to be the SWWs God intends for us to be. Let’s train up the next generation of SWWs; mighty woman proclaiming God’s Word!
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