When you live the wealthy lifestyle I’ve lived for awhile, you see bad things happen to good people. I would say, “I feel so bad for them,” and since I’m from Oklahoma I’d add in a little “bless their heart.” I know at times I would say “I wonder if there is something I could do,” then with good intentions I’d intent to, but then I’d go on with my life. I’m going to be real, sometimes I’ve even thought, that could never happen to us, or worst I’d judged them by lifestyle and would think they maybe had it coming.
The one thing that God has opened my eyes to over the past year is the AMAZINGLY brave women that I now notice. Women who boldly keep moving forward in their lives despite adversity. They do it quietly, humbly, gracefully, and even though they may not be perfect in this new role, they do it the best way they know how.
I’ve witnessed women who have lost their husband’s and children to suicide. And the women who have been widowed at a young age. They’ve learned to receive help from others with humility. They’ve stepped up to be both mom and dad. They have quietly and privately ached for their loved ones behind closed doors knowing there is a hole in their heart that can never be filled. Wishing they had one more day with them.
I’ve witnessed women who are fighting the disease of addiction with their parent, significant other and/or children. Dealing with the shame, embarrassment, hurt/pain and stigma of the disease. Encountering people’s snap judgements, whispers, and lack of education. The tears they’ve shed, and the boundaries they’ve had to build. The tough love they’ve had to implement, despite just wanting to help their loved one however they can. Figuring out through the rooms of Al Anon that they can’t cure it, only the alcoholic/addict can or want to. Learning that putting yourself first is the best medicine. However, how can you put yourself first when they need help? Some have lost their family, homes, children or husband’s to this disease. It is evil, but taking care of yourself is the first step to your recovery!
I’ve witnessed women who have encountered break downs from the stress of life. Who are now dealing with the stigma of mental illness and/or depression. Living with a new label that not everyone understands – that they don’t even understand. They’ve had to readjust their busy lives to focus on themselves – and for once put themselves first. They are being watched by others, will they have another breakdown, are they showing signs? Are they going to snap or are they acting crazy today? Dealing with a new life full of medications that take their moods up and down.
I’ve witnessed women who have lived with or are living with domestic violence – physical, verbal, or mental. Living in a world where instead of sympathy from others in this situation, they live with loved ones questioning why don’t they just leave? The silent cries for help, but too fearful to take a stand. Who have tried to leave, but that fear of know that he will hurt or even murder you if he finds you. The constant fear of others finding out that their lives aren’t perfect, since their significant other is a prominent member of the community. If you would tell someone, who would believe you anyway? They sometimes believe they have to stay. They must be unlovable, deserve it – who else would want them?
I’ve witnessed women who have/had cancer or are encountering cancer with a loved one. I’ve watched as they can’t control it so they grow through their strength in God. They are a cheerleader, a caretaker, fight with the insurance companies and take on the role of breadwinner. Or they are brave and courageous as their hair begins to fall out and they feel terrible from the chemo or in agony from the radiation. They do it with a smile. They try to hide all their pain from the world so no one feels uncomfortable around them. They all hope for a cure. All want the experimental drug to work. Some have to go to extreme measures by cutting up the bodies God gave them so this wicked disease doesn’t kill them.
What do all these women have in common? They are so brave! I can guarantee none of these women have asked for this life. They have handled it the best way they know how. Believe me, I know there is are many more strong women that I haven’t mentioned – I could go on and on. I also don’t want to shout “girl power,” because I’m not a fan of the women empowerment movement. But I do believe women who have been through and survived any yuck in their lives are not only strong, but incredibly brave. They don’t let their circumstances define them. They don’t wallow in the messiness of life, they embrace it, they educate, bring awareness to, and want other’s to understand no one is perfect – no life is perfect. Stay brave you amazing women! Keep tearing down the walls of stigma and showing strength through whispers of judgement. They judge because they don’t understand. Congratulations on learning the secret of life – that somethings are more important than wealth, possessions, or gossip. What’s important are the small things that makes memories, the small blessings, and a God that cares about us.
If you know a woman who has been through this, ask them about their blog, their platform, their fundraiser for awareness. Support these women and try to understand their lives. No one is immune to this kind of adversity. Educate yourself, don’t feel sorry for them. Education is what any one these women would want you to do for yourself. NEVER say it would ever happen to you. Hopefully it doesn’t. However, if it does, you have so many strong women paving the path for you. Brave is the new strong!