Soft is the New Strong, Tender is the New Tough

Tender is tough, soft is strong, and kindness is courageous.

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She wanted pink hair, just a little on the right side. A tiny piece of art shaved into the fine blond hairs just above the nape of her neck like a secret only she could decide when to share. This was her birthday present. I watched this ten-year-old perched in a stylist’s chair while I waited for my appointment. She had blue eyes like the start of a summer evening, a swirl of innocence and mischief.

The pink dye would wash out, the faint design quickly become overgrown like an unmowed lawn. But I sensed something in this girl’s bones, a tender kind of strength and bravery that would intensify in the years to come.

This generation coming up, they know so much sooner than I did that there is a part of them meant to be a warrior. I remember standing in a baby dedication at church recently listening to the names and meanings. I noted a common thread–words like strong, fighter, victorious. These girl babies looked around curiously from their mothers’ arms, nestled in cotton and fluff, cheeks like just-picked peaches.

I thought of how the names and the bearers of them seemed like a paradox. Because for so long we’ve been told to choose. Be tough or tender. Be strong or soft. Be kind or courageous. But we missed the point: The choice has never been either/or. In this hard world, tender is tough. Soft is strong. Kind is courageous.

Why? Because this is the nature of God. And we are created in His image.

Oh, yes, we grow beyond the baby stage. We become girls and then women. But sometimes we give up so much along the way that we don’t have to. I want to be a woman who helps this next generation embrace all the parts of who they are. I don’t want them to make the mistakes I did, believe the lies I have, get wounded in the ways I’ve experienced.

When the ten-year-old girl got up from the stylist’s chair I could read just one word on her t-shirt, “strong.” I said, “I like your hair. What does the rest of your shirt say?” She uncrossed her arms. “Strong Like Mom.” Ah, yes.

I’m not up for a wild color or shaved art on the back of my head just yet. I got a trim and plain ‘ol highlights when it was my turn in the stylist’s chair. But I want to take my place now as a fiercehearted woman because there are others coming after me like a wild and lovely parade–the little sisters and the daughters and the pink-haired granddaughters.



P.S. This post is part of the Fiercehearted series I’m hosting until October 3rd when my new book Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely, releases. You’re invited to be part of the Fiercehearted Fall Study that will kick off on that day! Preorder the book and then request to join the study here.


From August 16th through October we’re doing a special link-up series to celebrate Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely {launching October 3rd!} You’re a fiercehearted woman so I’m asking you to pour out a little love and courage with your words every Wednesday {the link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post, especially if it’s about living fully and loving bravely, and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to to see all the fun and join in too.

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {the html code is in the right sidebar of my main blog page}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth!

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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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