Book Review of The Right Kind of Strong

Title: The Right Kind of Strong

Author: Mary A. Kassian

Genre: nonfiction

Tagline: Surprisingly simple habits of a spiritually strong woman

Summary: What does it mean to be a strong woman? This question is posed on the back of Mary Kassian’s new book, The Right Kind of Strong. I looked this question up online and found the following answers- A strong woman fights against expectations, she is self-aware, she follows her own path, she’s a fighter, she perseveres, and she doesn’t let others define her.

All of these sound good on the surface, and there’s certainly truth in the statements, but there’s one fundamental problem with all of them: They focus on “she.” Strength comes from the woman herself.

Mary Kassian presents a completely different view of things, telling her readers that true strength comes from God’s power, not theirs. She argues against the “Girl Power” movement that has swept our world and shares how she considered herself a strong woman for a long time, only to realize that her “strength” was actually stubbornness, insolence, self-sufficiency, and prideful self-promotion (p. 3).

Whoa.

When you look at yourself that way, the whole perspective shifts.

Mary goes on to write about a tiny old woman named Pearl Purdie. Pearl Purdie, in Mary’s eyes, exhibited true strength- the strength of a “quiet and gentle spirit.” Pearl taught her how to be a truly strong woman.

The Right Kind of Strong provides the reader with seven “strength-sapping” habits (p. 18). Surprisingly, some of these habits may seem like they apply to strong women. But women that rely on themselves, however, are always going to have their strength sapped. They’re always going to fall.

The author uses II Timothy 3:6-7 as her basis for the strength-sapping habits. In this passage Paul is writing about weak women who have been burdened with sin and led astray by various passions. The unhealthy habits of their lives can serve as a warning for us all.

It may sound dire, but the book’s focus is not criticisms of cultural norms. Mary Kassian weaves stories and scripture throughout her book in an effort to encourage and exhort, not tear her readers down. Over and over again she emphasizes that we are only truly strong through God, and that’s a message we all need to hear.

My Thoughts: I first heard about this book from the Revive our Hearts podcast. I was working in an office, largely by myself, last summer, and I started each morning listening to Revive our Hearts. Mary Kassian talked through seven or eight podcasts on this topic, highlighting one habit of weak women each time. I enjoyed the podcasts enough to buy the book, and I’m glad I did.

As a single woman, I often pride myself on strength and independence. The “I can do it myself” mentality carries through many of my actions. Reading this book, however, changed my perspective on womanly strength. Yes, we should stand up for our beliefs; we should absolutely call out wrong and respect ourselves as women. But we also need to acknowledge our total dependence on God. John 15:5 tells us that “Apart from Him (Jesus) we can do nothing.”  We are not made to rely on ourselves.

The Right Kind of Strong doesn’t encourage woman to be doormats; instead it provides them with a whole different blueprint for becoming stronger. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

Notable quotes: “The way you think makes a profound difference in the way you live. The more you change your thoughts for the better, the more your life will change for the better. But it starts with embracing the mind that is yours in Christ Jesus.”

“God does not want you to be a weakling; He wants you to be a steel magnolia: a soft, feminine woman with fire in your belly, courage in your heart, and steel in your spine. He wants you to have the strength to say no to what’s wrong and yes to what’s right and to live your life for the glory of Christ.”

“It’s important for us to understand that growth doesn’t generally come through big and illustrious acts of obedience. It comes through all those small, daily, repetitive, and seemingly trivial ones. Flexing our spiritual muscles to do all the little things God asks of us is what will make us strong.”  

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