What does it mean to be strong? Is it physical, emotional, mental? Do you consider yourself strong? In what way?
I always liked to imagine myself as being strong, but I never truly believed it.
I liked to pretend I was strong physically, because I was tenacious. But, tenacity could be considered strength by some. I could push and push and push myself. But, if you asked me to do 15 pushups…well, that’s a different story.
I used to think of myself as strong emotionally and mentally. But, really, I would just keep things in until eventually I imploded and had a panic attack or anxiety attack. That wasn’t healthy. And isn’t being strong being healthy?
But, I knew deep in my heart I wasn’t really all that strong in any aspect. Honestly, I considered myself a little pathetic. That’s why my protagonist in the fantasy novel I wrote as a teenager was strong. Strength and what it is and what it means and in what aspect was a major theme I explored in that novel. (No I haven’t published it, although it is on my bucket list!)
There have been times recently in the past few years when I’ve had to put on a “strong face”. To me, that just meant internalizing my fears and worries, praying and praying and praying to God, and trying to be as supportive as possible to those around me, even if it tore me up inside. There have been times it just killed me and took over my anxiety and depression. I was tired. Tired of being strong for me, tired of being strong for my students, tired of being strong for my husband and son, tired of being strong for my family, tired of being strong for my religion. I have wanted to just give up numerous times–stop trying, stop working, stop parenting, stop leading, stop forgiving. I wanted others to take control and for them to have pity on me. For them to be strong for me.
Then, one day almost three years ago, while driving with my sister, as she was revealing her love life woes (and trust me, they were real issues), she told me that I was the strongest person she knew. I was floored. I was strong? How was I strong?
It took me a while to think back.
Justin and I both had personal issues at the beginning of our marriage, but we’ve worked together and come out stronger. Even years after my sister told me that, I still think back to it.
We took a leap and moved away from Provo. We both took turns while the other worked. we’ve been through disappointments, both physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial. But, we have always gotten through it. I have come to terms with my weaknesses, including anxiety and depression and now accept it as part of me.
I don’t necessarily consider myself strong. But, what really is strength?
I believe strength is determination, tenacity, faith, courage, hope, cooperation, humility, peace, and happiness. Things we should all work for.
What do you think strength is?