Sitting in the faded yellow chair with little E on my lap, animal book spread over our knees, she points to a striped bee with beady eyes, “Monkey!” she says, jabbing her finger on its black butt.
I laugh, “No, it’s a bee.”
“Monkey!” she says, “Monkey!”
“No, honey. I can see how you think it’s a monkey, but it’s got wings. Monkeys don’t have wings.”
She pauses, brown eyes studying wings, then declares, “Baby monkey, mommy! Baby monkey!”
She is fierce, my daughter, and only two years old.
She says “No!” to changing her Kitty PJ’s, eating her oatmeal and saying “please.” She climbs to the highest peak on the playground, runs down the sidewalk without looking back, and hides in the pantry chewing forbidden gum. She slaps away helping hands fuming, “I do it!” and hides behind the living room curtains when denied the power to determine naptime.
She is fierce, my daughter, in her will to be right, to rule her life.
Her fierceness makes me laugh and makes me tremble because there is a fierce that births joy and a fierce that births sorrow.
Sorrowful Fierce searches the life of a friend for faults and flaws, then elevates herself as the stronger, the wiser. Sorrowful Fierce scorches the struggling, the hurting, the different with the heat of her holier-than-thou. Sorrowful Fierce elevates Her story as The Story.
But Joyful Fierce is born not by the strength of woman’s will, but through surrendering her will to the One who keeps her.
I tremble for the depth of suffering and sin my daughter may know before embracing Joyful Fierce. I watch her run through the backyard—wild, white pigtails flying, dimples deepening, fingers crusted with mud from dirt digging—and I long to keep her close.
But there’s nothing more glorious than a woman filled with Joyful Fierce—a fierce that embraces weakness and clings to Jesus, a fierce that looks hard at her own heart while speaking compassion to a neighbor, a fierce that believes in Jesus, yet calls out, “Help me with my unbelief!” when life makes no sense at all.
This is the kind of fierce I want for my daughter, for myself.
And yet . . . Joyful Fierce is a gift given, not attained.
The receivers of this gift are poor and realize their need for Jesus. They mourn, for they know loss. They are humble, hungry, merciful, pure in heart. They are the peacemakers and the persecuted.
Joyful Fierce is given to those who know their weakness, suffer humbly, and love well.
But without the immeasurable grace of Jesus, we run like hell from this kind of fierce.
Project Pursued Questions
How would you describe Joyful Fierce and Sorrowful Fierce in the context of your own life?
What joys and struggles have you experienced in learning what it means to surrender control of your life to Jesus?
Share your stories with a friend and pray for God’s grace as together you learn to live a Joyful Fierce.