When Moody Publishers asked if I’d be interested in reviewing Kimberly Wagner’s new book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior, I was immediately hooked. The title and subtitle intrigued me. Especially how the words “fierce” and “soft” were used together. I had a feeling it would be a great read and it was!
From start to finish, Fierce Women is one of the most honest, refreshing, and engaging books I’ve ever read on the marriage relationship when it comes to how wives relate to their husbands. Within our inherited sin nature and living in a culture where women have the tendency to dominate, manipulate, and take charge over men, I appreciate how Kimberly has unashamedly called out this kind of behavior, or shall we say heart issue, as sin.
Not only that, Kimberly shares her personal stories and struggles of how her own behavior and treatment of her husband almost led to the destruction of her marriage. She gives women hope that they can change too. But rest assured, this is not a self-help book designed to repair marital problems. Kimberly makes it clear that real change didn’t occur until she realized that what she calls her “emasculation” of her husband was tied to God’s glory. During a weekend getaway to a cabin, God opened her eyes and helped her see how damaging her selfishness was to their oneness. Humility, grace, and dying to self are what led to the restoration of her marriage.
Every woman has a type of fierceness within her and God desires to use that fierceness for good. Throughout the book, Kimberly uses the term “soft warrior” to describe a woman who uses her fierce strengths to encourage and inspire her husband toward greatness, rather than tearing him down. A soft warrior trusts in her husband’s leadership, doesn’t try to “fix” him, accepts, admires, appreciates, affirms, and prays for him. She allows him to take the lead because that is his God-given role.
It’s easy for people to say, “Well, just respect your husband.” But often it’s hard to nail down how that looks exactly. The last half of the book really hits home on appreciating your husband for how God wired him and gives practical ways to inspire and help leverage your husband’s platform and influence. I really loved how Kimberly spent time going into detail about how we can show respect to our husband’s regarding their personality differences, preferences, decision making, dreams, interests, and more.
Kimberly also shares about regularly speaking words of encouragement and affirmation to our husbands. She talks about being “salty” speakers (Colossians 4:6) who speak the voice of truth into their ears. “The beautifully fierce woman faithfully confronts by speaking truth in love rather than enabling sin by keeping silent.” It was refreshing to see Kimberly’s point that Scripture supports gently and lovingly confronting our husbands if they are trapped in a sin addiction rather than ignoring it or stuffing it under the sheets. To remain silent can be a sin and this requires a lot of prayer for believing and unbelieving husbands.
“Dream with Me,” the last chapter in Fierce Women, was one of my favorite chapters. Kimberly revisits the work that God did in her life that weekend at the cabin. I love her honesty when she says:
I clearly saw what I’d been doing for years. I had been blaspheming, reviling, bringing dishonor to the Word of God. By professing to love God, claiming to have the indwelling power of the Spirit, upholding Scripture as God’s revealed Word to others … while living like a shrew at home … I was making God’s Word of no effect in my witness for Christ. By dishonoring my husband, I was bringing dishonor to God’s word and the power of the gospel.”
Kimberly saw the contradiction in her life and how it was impossible for her to claim, share, and teach about the power of the gospel to transform hearts and lives when her own treatment of husband had not been transformed. Her own heart had not been fully surrendered to God. Closing out this chapter, one of the most challenging questions I felt Kimberly asked was: “Is the gospel message flowing through your marriage and touching others in life-changing ways?”
I loved the reminder that marriage is about so much more than what we often see from our limited perspective. Whether we realize it or not, the world is watching us. They’re watching how we treat our husbands, our children, and everyone around us. They’re looking for real hope and love. They’re looking to see if there is something different in our marriages and if what we have is real, lasting, selfless, sacrificial, committed for life love. When they see that kind of unrelenting love, they see the gospel lived out.
As women, what is at stake if we fail to use our fierceness for God’s glory? Kimberly reminds us, “God designed the most intimate of all earthly relationships to serve as a real-life parable to depict His commitment to his bride. Marriage is God’s platform that displays to the watching world a physical picture of a spiritual reality.”
Fierce Women spoke volumes to me personally because I am a fierce, strong-willed woman myself (just ask my husband!) and I have seen the “bad side” fleshed out many times in my marriage. I felt like I was seeing myself all over the pages and I actually couldn’t believe that someone else had gone through such similar struggles as I. I was so encouraged that my fierceness can actually be a beautiful thing God can use if I am willing to surrender. And I have seen how wonderful it is in my marriage when I’m listening to the Spirit. Yet, I also know that my fierceness can also be a very destructive thing that must be harnessed and surrendered to the spirit’s control.
Kimberly did mention the importance of being plugged into a solid church and having community around us to encourage us to be the women we are called to be. However, I think she could have dedicated a little more time to how critical it is to have consistent, authentic, life-on-life community with other women in our lives as we seek to be beautifully fierce women. Having a group of godly girlfriends in my life who hold me accountable and check in with how I am doing has helped me tremendously in my relationship to my husband. My girlfriends understand, relate, encourage, and gently rebuke me when I’m wrong. When I’m in a season of struggle, they patiently lead me back to God’s Word. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have such supportive friends to check in on me and be there for me when times get tough in marriage. They have reminded me that we really do need each other and that we’re not alone. It is a gift to have other like-minded women alongside us in the journey.
Above all, Fierce Women is a book I will definitely be rereading. I can’t say enough about it. I hope you’ll get your hands on it as soon as you can.