After a fun, bantering conversation with my mom, she looked at my husband and said, “Wow, Jeremy! What happened? Jenilee is a bit feistier than I remember.”
We all laughed and moved on from the moment.
But in my head, I haven’t moved on.
I am feistier.
A bit more opinionated.
Quicker to speak up, share my thoughts, express a feeling or even call out something I see in a situation around me.
I’m a middle child. People pleaser. Slight introvert. Always the soft one.
But maybe I’m not anymore.
Maybe after a term overseas with some bumps and bruises along the way, I really am feistier than my pre-overseas self.
Maybe it was tipping the age of 36 and slowly moving towards 40.
Maybe it was being misunderstood enough times to force my words to tumble out.
Maybe it is all of those things and they are doing something in me, giving me skills that I need to return for a second term.
In that brewing feistiness, I’m finding strength and courage.
I’m finding that voice deep inside of me to speak truth in love, balance my task list, fight for margins, call out injustice and be more self-aware.
I’m learning to speak up for myself, my girls, my family, our work and our calling in ways I never have before.
I’m trusting that I can be strong in a situation and let God take care of the rest.
I’m believing that I don’t have to have all the answers or solutions but I can be a vocal, real, strong part of the discussion.
Somehow the softness is giving way to strength.
I wrote a post for Grit & Virtue titled “A Soft Strength – Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone.”
In that post, I wrote, “Now, after uprooting our family, moving across the sea, diving into a new language, living in a new culture and adjusting to unbelievable circumstances, I’m seeing tiny glimpses of what God can do with a soft soul being willing to harden up for the task ahead. And when I say harden, I don’t mean a negative hardening of a heart. I mean a positive choice to allow God to form, make and create something of incredible value and abiding endurance. I’m learning how God can weave softness and create beautiful strength.”
It is that weaving of softness and strength where I’m finding myself a bit feistier than before we moved overseas.
This last season of home assignment has been a season of personal challenge. A season of feeling God speak to me directly about my soft default and how He wants to empower me to be used in new, stronger ways.
I often encourage friends when they come to me to speak up! Stand for truth! Let God use you in powerful ways!
And yet, many times, I find myself being quiet, not speaking up, not giving my opinion or holding back thoughts.
I hate conflict. I do not like issues. I run from difficult discussions.
I would rather keep peace than cause uncomfortable conversations.
But I’m learning again in the weaving of softness and strength, that sometimes the conflict is good. Sometimes the difficult discussions and uncomfortable moments are useful in the bigger scope of God’s plan.
God might be using that exact tension to grow, shape, mold and tend the people and situations around me.
God might be using all of it to grow, shape, mold and tend me.
We are soon returning to West Africa. We’ll be flying across the ocean, settling back into our house, picking up our dog, visiting people and restarting our work.
There will be many, many challenges to walk through, situations to grow in, and things to learn.
I want to go through it all in that space between softness and strength, quietness and feistiness.
I want God to use me in powerful ways as I’ve never been used before.
I’m praying that He will continue the work He is doing in my heart to prepare me for the task ahead.
The deep softness within me is God given. Yet, God can do amazing things when we offer that to Him and let Him challenge us in new ways.
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16
How have you seen God prepare you for returning?
Have you noticed changes or differences in how God is calling you to live?
Do you sense Him challenging you in new ways for the task ahead?
Are you the opposite, sensing God growing a softness in you that wasn’t there before?