On Being Strong…

Little Girl Biceps 1

An open letter to my two daughters who continually point me to the source of my strength

My Darling Daughters,

You see it declared on itty bitty pink onesies and women’s t-shirts everywhere. Bumper stickers, billboards, commercials, song lyrics, and memes (so.many.memes.)—they all flex their girl power muscles. A deafening chorus rings out from every corner of our society: GIRL, YOU ARE STRONG!

And it’s true.

You, my girls, are strong.

But I need you to know what that means. I need you to know what it looks like to show true strength. And most of all, I need you to know where your strength lies.

I don’t want you to be misled by the faulty messaging that pervades our culture. Some of it is innocent, some subtle, some brash. Much of it is meant to be positive and harmless but almost all of it is rooted in self…and that is where it goes wrong.

Too often the messages around us confuse strength with aggression, and confidence with arrogance. So often strength is claimed as the foundation of attitudes and slogans that taunt and insult, brag and intimidate, divide and alienate. And again…99% of what you see and hear will point you back to one place…the wrong place.


Girls, take a step back for moment. Shut out the noise. I want to clear up a few things.

First, true strength is not concentration on your own awesomeness or achievements or potential. Those things are not what make you strong. And proclaiming them to the world doesn’t make you strong either.

Secondly, please understand that true strength is never realized at the expense of another. It never degrades or humiliates. It doesn’t trample others in pursuit of recognition. That’s not strength. It’s domination.

Now, will you consider with me a few suggestions that contradict the general posturing of strength in our society?

Perhaps strength isn’t found in dramatic self-assertion. Maybe it isn’t revealed in sassy and sarcastic quips. Maybe it doesn’t have to spell itself out. Maybe it doesn’t need to thunder on the offensive or rail on the defensive.

Maybe strength doesn’t demand gratuitous acknowledgement. Maybe it doesn’t announce itself at every turn. Maybe it doesn’t need affirmation and applause.

Maybe, girls…

True strength just seeps out in the ordinary moments of living.

Maybe it flows naturally into our routine conduct.

Maybe it is best displayed in quiet obedience. Most clearly seen in doing what is right, even—or especially—when no one else does.

Maybe true strength is marked by humility. Revealed in unassuming servanthood. Most discernable in its selflessness.

Maybe true strength doesn’t demand to be noticed…but rests in its inherent dignity. Perceived without intent. Undeniable in its presence.

Maybe true strength is found in the personal contentment and acceptance of the people we are—the girls and women God created us to be—and living out of response to that.

I do know one thing for certain, my daughters. Your strength is not rooted in yourself.

Your strength is rooted in the Strong One.

God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1) 

The Almighty One who has promised you that He will strengthen you.

…I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee (Isaiah 41:10)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength… (Isaiah 40:31)

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (Psalm 31:24)

          *emphases added

The Holy One who told Israel, “…In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

You see, Sweet Daughters, your strength does not rely on what you do. It does not come from what you say or what your clothing declares. It’s not a brassy attitude or a brazen posture. And it does not depend on another person’s approval or an entire culture’s endorsement.

People will tell you that you are strong because you are a girl. That’s a lie.

You are strong because you are His girl.

True strength is sourced in God and the truth of who He tells us we are.

We are His. He is ours. And He is all we need. That is where your strength lies—in the One who indwells you. You are strong because He is strong, and He strengthens you.

So I pray, my loves, that you claim His strength as your own…and as you do, that your strength will be witnessed in your meekness, characterized by gentleness, and distinguished by grace.

I pray that you will use your strength to build others up, even when they are trying to tear you down.

And I pray that you will carry your strength with peace, knowing from Whom it comes.

With loving strength,

Your Mama,


About Dana Boyd

Dana is a lifelong lover of words with a passion for sharing stories of the heart—both her own and others. Her writings draw from her experiences as a woman, a writer, a wife, a mother of three, and a Bible-believing Jesus follower. She is a defender of truth, an avid proponent of common sense and a recovering (often relapsing) perfectionist still learning to lean in to grace. Her writing is an honest outpouring of her introverted heart, driven by a longing to inspire others to feel deeply, think critically and act compassionately. Dana shares her words as a monthly contributor at DoAhead Woman.


  1. Lauren Fletcher says:

    These thoughts on strength are very thought provoking. I love the scriptures you used. Very inspiring! Thank you!

  2. We are strong because we are His and anytime I feel less than I and my daughter and all those I love like daughters can fall right into those strong arms 🙂
    Holing a family of 3 girls tight in prayer today. They just lost their dad. Prayers for them please.

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