These woman are declaring that they do not need anyone, especially a man. Some of these women have embraced the concept of strength out of necessity as men have left them; many others have adopted the sentiment with deliberate determination, seeing successful careers as more valued than marriage.
The Bible states, "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman" (I Peter 3:7 NASB). God clearly declares that women are weaker than men. I had heard this verse often without giving it much thought, but this past winter the truth became clear to me.
Mountains of things had piled on me all at once: a bad dream, poor sleep, the aftermath of a record-breaking snowstorm, the physical demands of shoveling, isolation from church due to canceled services, computer issues at work and home, the accumulated weariness from multiple weeks of overtime, financial decisions, social disappointments, and interruptions to relaxation. This "perfect storm" of combined factors left me completely overwhelmed.
As I thought of the phrase "weaker vessel," I realized God had chosen those words for a reason. I saw His intended meaning illustrated in my life. Women are designed in a certain way, and so are men. Both men and women, because they are mortal, are weak to some extent; in general, however, men have strength to endure things that women are not as well-equipped to endure.
In the experience of my recent days, that disparity had become obvious. I had faced physical, mental, emotional, social, and even spiritual challenges due to the accumulated events. Many of these challenges required man-strength, but I was trying to face them with woman-strength. In truth, even some men faltered under the current experiences or others like them. I realized there are things that women, by God's design, are less equipped to handle than men, and I had just faced a bunch of them all at once.
I considered how women react when woman-strength isn't enough and they are confronted with things requiring man-strength. I believe the most basic response is tears. When women are stretched beyond their limits, especially for some duration, their weakness eventually breaks them down and comes out in tears. In general, tears mean that the demands are greater than the strength. Crying demonstrates that woman is the weaker vessel.
Other signs can accompany tears. An overly-stretched woman might become extra tired, require additional rest, or even collapse physically. She might become clumsy or make mistakes. These indications that a woman has moved beyond her level of strength are probably not purposeful; instead, they happen automatically because God has designed her as a weaker vessel. She can handle only a certain level of demands.
It can be uncomfortable to cry, especially in public or if it happens frequently. Some women avoid crying if at all possible, embarrassed by what they perceive as weakness or failure. While women can misuse tears for wrong purposes, healthy tears are designed by God to indicate that the limitations of woman-strength have been exhausted and that corrective adjustments should be taken. Tears also therapeutically relieve pressure that has built up and can be a legitimate call for comfort and support.
Especially if a woman does not understand God's view of crying, she might substitute anger for tears. While anger seemingly protects her by masking her vulnerability, it often hurts her family or friends. Unlike restorative and benign tears, anger's release is negative and hurtful. Anger can seem to provide energy for continued attempts at meeting the demands; unfortunately, this energy is short-lived, as the anger also saps energy and ultimately makes the woman less productive. In addition to violent outbursts, anger can also take the form of sullenness, resentment, or silence. The non-verbal communication that "I'm doing this, and I'm going to keep doing this, but I am not going to like it" curtails her expressions of love to her family and make it obvious to all around her that she is not happy. Finally, anger almost always indicates a spiritually incorrect response; while people, organizations, or objects may appear to be the recipient of the anger, ultimately the woman is angry at God, whom she blames for creating her overwhelming situation.
An overwrought woman might also substitute quitting for tears. Crying does provide some release; people have long recognized the value of "a good cry," after which someone is able to return again to the challenges of life. Through tears, someone can acknowledge that the challenge is too big to handle, but through the tears, that person can make adjustments. Quitting also acknowledges that a challenge is too big, but instead of adjusting, it responds by not trying anymore. If God has providentially placed the challenge, then it cannot be right to just give up.
There are times in life that ordinary woman-strength is not sufficient to meet the demands. If a woman forgets the truth that God has made her a weaker vessel, she could respond with discouragement, overwhelming, confusion, disillusionment, anger, or guilt. It is helpful for a woman to recognize what is going on, realizing that her situation is too big for woman-strength, and that her body, mind, and emotions are going to react to the overpowering demands. She can be calm in understanding that her abnormal, fragile responses have a legitimate cause. When she knows they are merely manifestations of God's truth about how He made women, she can acknowledge reality, make adjustments, and move forward in an understanding way.
"'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." II Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)