It is pretty widely accepted that the best way to build physical strength is to work out. Athletes of all levels from the bedroom treadmill climbers to professional athletes and everyone in between understands this. Work is required to build strength.
Discipline. Dedication. Drive.
Emotional strength is not the same though.
No one sets out with a plan to develop their emotional strength.
No one wakes up and wishes for the trials that will develop their character and strength.
Because the people that we look up to as “strong” are actually the people who have been hurt the most.
I often wonder if the people who we all perceive as strong think of themselves that way.
It is my belief that they do not.
At different points in my life, I have experienced a friend or coworker telling me that they believe me to be strong. It is a very weird sensation to me, as I would assume it would be to most.
When the picture that I had in my head of what my life would look like was erased, I had no idea where I would land, or what the new picture would look like.
At times I felt that I was attempting to assemble a 5000 piece puzzle, without a picture to go by, and with some pieces missing, and additional pieces thrown in for good measure.
In the end, the picture has turned out fine, better than I expected actually.
This is not backed with any extensive research other than my own life, but I feel that sometimes when life gets hard, and the world we thought we knew turns upside down, we have no choice but to keep going.
As for me, I looked at my children and asked myself what legacy I wanted to leave for them.
I want them to be people who recognize injustice and do not walk past.
This does not mean that they must join every cause that comes along. We all have a certain topic that makes our heart beat fast, and our eyes light up.
For some, it is environmental issues that make their spirit come alive. For some it is sports. Others feel their heart beat faster when discussing social issues. All of these are valid. There are so many areas of passion and dedication, it is virtually impossible to nail it down.
I want my children to stand tall in the choices they make. If they make mistakes, I want them to acknowledge the mistake, learn from it, and move on.
There is no time in life to wallow in the mistake.
I want them to recognize bullies for what they are. These monsters come in all forms. In children’s cartoons, it is easy to recognize them. In the adult world, they sometimes wear nice clothes, drive nice cars, and are a bit harder to spot at first glance.
I want to teach my children how to treat people around us, both those we can benefit from, and those who have nothing at all to offer. This is the mark of being good people.
I tell my children consistently that I do not care WHAT they do when they are adults, I am far more concerned with WHO they are.
Every time in my life that I have taken a stand that from the outside may appear to be brave or strong, I have been terrified. I have wanted to crawl back in bed. I have thought “why me?” to myself over and over.
From in the back recesses of my mind, I often hear a voice that sounds vaguely like my mother answer back, “why not you?”
In the Bible, Esther was the unlikely queen set to save her people. Esther 4:14 says “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
For such a time as this.
Each time a challenge is presented, I hear these words. “Perhaps you were made for such a time as this.”
Then I fluff up my curls, take a deep breath, and walk into the fire.
Not because I am strong (I am not), but because I want my children to be.