I Am Empowered

Photo of Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, with the reservoir behind.
Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, Washington State, USA. Image by tegawi from Pixabay

A Peek into My Process to Conquer Insecurity and Self-criticism

People who know me often describe me as strong. I’m calm in a crisis, champion the underdog, and have been strong-willed since childhood — just ask my sisters! What most don’t know is that I have a deep-seated fear of both failure and success. As a result, when I’m faced with crucial decisions that affect my own wellbeing and the things I want to do, the directions I want to go, I end up with a toxic ball of fear, procrastination, and paralysis.

This is something I’ve dealt with since childhood. Old messages start playing, like, “You’re too little,” “You’re too young,” and “You can’t understand.” The rebellious part of me says, “Oh, yes, I can!” But there’s a little voice behind that rebellion that believes the others. Currently, I’m struggling with transitioning from a “regular” job to working from home in various virtual capacities. The key word here being struggle.

When you have a friend who is a life coach — one who specializes in transforming fear into moving forward — such struggles are hard to hide. She challenged me to find what some call a Warrior Statement. This is a statement that encapsulates who I am, who I want to be in the world. Something I can use when facing smaller struggles — like wanting to eat pastries and needing comfort food — to big struggles, like seeking online work. Such a statement has to be fairly simple but also visceral — something my body and emotions react to, not just my mind.

Talk about scary stuff!

I struggled for a few days with the whole concept. I have objects that serve as reminders, or totems, like my silver Navajo bracelet with bears on it, symbolizing strength and courage. Well and good, but not dynamic enough. Knowing of my faith, she asked if there may be something in the Bible that might work for me?

That should have been an obvious place to look. But it wasn’t. Because there’s a lot of baggage attached to the Scriptures in my brain. But I decided to give it a try, and started with Ephesians 6:14-17, where Paul talks about the armor of God.

There’s a lot of good stuff here: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, boots of the good news of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. But none of that hit the chord of what I was searching for.

We talked some more. I wrote down, “My self-criticism keeps me from seeing the strong parts if myself, the capable and funny.” When I try to look at my triumphs, I jump to the bottom the valley of misery and look up, instead relishing the joy and accomplishment I found on the other side. How do I change that?

Instead of my worst critic, how do I become my best cheerleader?

The next day, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” began running through my head. It started while walking the dog, and it wouldn’t go away. And the questions began. Why is “strong” in there twice? Or is it three times? I mean, what is “the strength of his might”? So I looked up the verse, and — ta-da — it’s from verse 10 of Ephesians 6, right before the armor list.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (RSV, NAS)

I decided to do a word study of this verse. That involves looking at different Bible translations and paraphrases to see how they translate this from the Greek. And since I had studied Biblical (Koine) Greek in college, I pulled that out too, and accessed online dictionaries and concordances. (I’ll reference several at the end of this article.)

Here is the Greek text:

Τοῦ λοιποῦ ἐνδυναμοῦσθε ἐν Κυρίῳ καὶ ἐν τῷ κράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ

For all you non-Greek scholars, here’s a word-by-word interlinear transliteration that reads:

Henceforth be empowered in the Lord and in the strength of the might of Him.

“Oh-ka-ay,” you’re shaking your shaking your head right now. “So, what?”

ἐνδυναμοῦσθε (endynamousthe), translated as strong or empowered, is from the same root that we get the English words dynamo and dynamic. It’s capable, inherent, power ready to go.

κράτει (kratei), the second word translated as strength, is from the same root as Kratos, the Greek God of Strength. Some of the synonyms I came across included power, manifested strength, complete power. In verb form, it was often used for seize or hold fast like a strong army — power in action.

ἰσχύος (ischyos), translated as might, also is often translated elsewhere as power, strength, and force. Several commentators likened it to the source of power, power-possessed, holding-on power, and like the force of a combat-ready army.

The word I latched on to was empowered (endynamousthe). Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I think of the dynamos at Grand Coulee Dam generating electricity from the water that constantly flows through them (which would be the second strength), that flows from the reservoir (which would be the might and source of power). All that power and strength just waiting to be tapped.

Enlarged section of title photo, showing where water emerges from the power generating plant
Circle shows water emerging from the power generators in the structure left of the dam proper. Enlarged section of photo above.

This got me excited!

I played around with the definitions and synonyms for a while. The goal, after all, wasn’t to come up with the “right” translation, but with a statement I could own, to help me break through the cycle of self-criticism that is no longer valid — if it ever was. Then I realized that I had ignored the very beginning of the verse.

Τοῦ λοιποῦ (tou loipou), translated as Finally, or Henceforth, seems like a throwaway word. It’s not. Finally gives the idea of a summary, an ending. Paul used the phrase a lot. But the literal meaning, from henceforth, goes further. In modern lingo, one might say, “So, from now on.” It looks forward, not back. That was the last piece of my puzzle.

So, here’s my Warrior Statement:

From now on, I am empowered in the Lord, and in his absolute strength that holds me fast.

The short version: I am empowered!

Now comes the challenge of putting this into action. By sharing this with you, I am holding myself accountable. And perhaps this journey through my process will help you get unstuck in some area of your own life.

Grace, Peace and Hugs to You All!


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