Day 5: Losing It, Part 3

“How about a strong black woman who is tired of being strong?” one woman asked me. Her question speaks volumes about the SBW cycle of life: First, you are born into a world with two strikes against you (woman and black). Then you are nurtured in a world that told you to strive beyond the strikes against you by educating yourself and achieving success in a career. And finally, add to all that the responsibility of caring for others and trying to fit in time for yourself. At some point you realize one of the cogs in the cycle has stopped your progress:

Maybe your job hired your white male counterpart and you are in competition for the boss’s recognition. You remember that you have two strikes against you, talk to other black women who nurture you to strive beyond the strikes against you, decide you need to be reeducated (go back for your doctorate) to get a promotion or find another job, all while caring for others and trying to fit in time for yourself. So begins the SBW cycle of life, and your thought is, “Here I go again.” “Here I go again” expresses your being tired of the cycle, but you believe the cycle must continue. This is simply the life of a strong black woman, and if you are one you feel compelled to follow your destiny. I had to challenge this notion when I came to the end of myself, the end of my sanity, and I fell apart.

First, let me say that I am not against the pursuit of excellence or having all God wants for us. I’m not saying that we should not want to be promoted on our jobs, listen to our girlfriends’ advice or return to school. What I am saying is that we have to be careful to examine our motives behind what we do. We must know who is behind our actions. Is God instructing us? Or is the world system, family, the flesh (our misplaced desires) or the devil the motive behind what we do? I am not saying that we shouldn’t go to a counselor or take drugs to help our mental, physical or emotional state when it is medically determined that we need these things. What I am saying is that we must know how we got to the place where we are and figure out the mistakes we made along the way.

God made each of us with the ability to choose. You’ve heard it before: We are free-will agents. Believe it or not, we can do what we want to do. But many of us have become slaves to the world order, our families, our flesh or even the enemy—Satan. God’s hope is that we choose what He wants for us. He has laid out in His word how He wants us to navigate this life. We have a choice: Either we can choose His way, which is found in the word of God, or our way, which is often based on notions we have received from other trusted sources, including our foremothers and other women engaged in the struggle for female equality. When you fall apart you must re-assess your life. I did and found myself at the edge of the cycle, about to climb back on. Then God had me to deeply examine the “truths” about women that I had come to accept from my family and feminists inside and outside the church.

Copyright 2006-2010 by Rhonda J. Smith

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