A houseful of brothers to an only girl is a lot of things. It’s mostly what you’d imagine — smelly, loud, and masculine. Among the sympathetic smiles and advice I received, no one ever mentioned to me that the struggles of being an only daughter would follow me even after my 18-year stint at home.
Surviving in this type of household left certain things on my side, however, such as when I landed a position at a marketing firm. I was the lone female in a company full of males.
The firm’s environment, which may have intimidated many, made me feel at home. Once again, I could hang with the boys, and I knew how. I matched their assertive squeezes in our handshakes, clacked my heels down hallways to announce my presence, and challenged their ideas in dimly lit conference rooms.
It was great, except for one thing. I wanted to cry.
The feeling came every now and then, as it does most people. It came when I skimmed a touching story at an online news site while waiting for my next meeting, or even when a creative advertising campaign sent shivers down my spine during a brainstorming session. I fought back tears, silently yelling at them like Tom Hank’s character in A League of Their Own. “There’s no crying in baseball!” he screamed, dumbfounded at the emotions of his players. And every now and then, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., I said a similar thing to myself, “There’s no crying in business!”
As a little girl, my brothers’ reactions to my tears were everything from indifference to bewilderment. “Are you crying?” they asked during my occasional episodes of sensitivity. Years later, I was terrified I’d hear this again, only this time in incredibly inappropriate settings and from the wrong people — clients and co-workers.
Marketing clichés were my specialty, and my emotions were not part of the entire package I’d labeled “Successful Business Woman.” As a result, I tried everything to push down any hint of fragility in myself. Soon, I had worked my way down to the fruits of the Spirit. Chipping away day-by-day, I soon unconsciously removed all of them, leaving me feeling like merely a shell for success. I was good at my job, but not at being me.
Other jobs came and went, and then my official and only job title became “Mommy.” Surely this was the safest place to be sensitive. But now I found that my heart — the way God had created me — was not in the same shape. I had fed myself lies for so long, it had somehow all began to feel true.
The truth was finally revealed by one of my best friends during a getaway weekend. I confided in her and another close friend about various issues that were defined by my long fought battle against sensitivity. As they prayed for me, my friend pleaded for God to show me that my sensitivity was not a sign of weakness, but a gift from Him.
My mind and heart were sent reeling by these words. I had been fighting, all this time, against a gift?
Months after the retreat, I still dissected this truth, and subconsciously red-flagged all the instances in my life where I had gulped down tears that should have been shed. There were other times I remembered denying the empathy that God was giving me while listening to a friend’s loss. Other moments I was stone-faced in the eyes of injustice, when I wanted to give in to sobs. And of course, I recalled the times were I had not allowed myself to feel anything besides the fear of appearing weak.
I had been holding back so much for so long, I was relieved for the chance to give in. Ecclesiastes 3 affirmed that the time was now to submit to this gift, when Solomon lamented, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
What I thought would be Niagara Falls once the dam was finally let go, was not.
I had feared that I was deemed to be a weepy, blubbering mess for anything and everything sentimental. But instead, I found a whole new level of trust with God to protect my sensitive heart and, in return, I could give in to those emotions when I felt prompted.
I cried over a childhood friend’s betrayal in her marriage. I wept over my daughter’s songs to God. And I didn’t give any excuses anymore if the tears came unexpectedly. I figured they were probably warranted in some way, even if I didn’t know why.
Clichés could not box up my life anymore. There were anomalies everywhere, especially where God was concerned. I realized that perhaps some thriving businesses had to have heart. Some hard-nosed, serious male executives probably let loose every now and then. And some only daughters, particularly the ones like me, finally learn it’s OK to cry.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
To Those Who Want To Be Truly Happy: Stop Chasing Happiness
Chasing happiness isn't all it's cracked up to be. Here are a few reasons why.
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
What Women Are Saying
-- Renee Fisher, author of Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships6 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships11 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture3 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions