By Brigitte Bowman

It was a cold October night. I didn’t know what to expect, thinking this night would be the same as every other. My parents happened to be out of town, so it was just the three youngest of six at home, just us sisters. We weren’t scared about being alone together; as far as we knew, we would always keep each other safe. We finally all went to sleep.

So there I was, asleep in my bed. And then I heard a voice from God saying: “Wake up.” My eyes opened to see an unknown man with a mask standing over me.

He started to strangle me, his grip tightening. I sprang into action, kicking and fighting back. He was careless and continued to hurt me, slapping and punching me in the face. But I did not stop fighting. “This is my home,” I said, “you hear me? I will not back down, you hear me? I will not back down!”

I continued to fight, throwing anything I could touch at this intruder. He started grabbing instead of punching and put me in a choke hold. I screamed and yelled, waiting for someone to arrive, and sure enough my sister showed up. She kicked the door and came in like Tarzan, screaming and jumping on his back with no fear. She threw him down the stairs. My sister ran back up and I cried to her, saying, “You just saved my life.” 

The intruder came running back up, only to be beaten down by us two girls. We kept him down as long as we could, continuing to fight on. Then he reached for his pocket, pulling out a knife, and we stepped on his hands and kicked the knife away. Eventually, he found a way to get up and run back down the stairs. We heard more footsteps, so we got our younger sister and gathered into a room, finding our way to the roof and calling 911. We started praying and praying, waiting for 911 to arrive. The intruders ran away down the street and into the darkness, never to be seen again. 

Unlike the intruders, I choose to run into the light. This is why I am telling you this story; because it is not a sad one, but an empowering one. Strength isn’t something you find. It is something that is already a part of us. It is our identity. We are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and He is strength. Even though it might seem like I was a victim, that is only on the surface. Deep down, it only made me stronger. God used this particular event to show me my identity as a strong woman of God. It is only by His grace that I came to this realization through therapy and many nights crying in God’s arms. (And as a side note: you are not weak if you get therapy. You are acknowledging God’s desire for you to be free from chains so you can come to know who you really are.)

There are so many role models of strength in my life, but if I can’t acknowledge myself as a strong woman of God, then I don’t yet know what that really means. Women, you are so much stronger than you think you are. We are warriors of God who defend hearts. If you are reading this and want to be stronger, then spend more time in the presence of God. The more we know about Jesus, the more He reveals to us about ourselves because we are created in His image and likeness (Amen?).

Remember that God calls the weak because they are truly the strong ones (1 Corinthians 1:27). You don’t need to have a story like mine to realize you are strong, because strength is in your heart. Think of our Blessed Mother–her battle cry came from within when she said “yes” to God’s call on her life. She was fearless because she knew she was a woman of God. Sometimes, I think about her during the passion. How could she be so strong while her son was being tortured? She let her heart be crushed and poured out for others–now that is strength! So when will you choose to believe you are strong? And when will you choose to fight? There are souls waiting for you, souls that only your heart can touch. Have confidence in your Commander. He is the strongest of them all. You are strong, you are brave, and you are fierce.