Being strong is so overrated

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Not exactly trees in a storm, but the skies were grey that day. 🙂

“As I started to picture the trees through the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don’t try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that stand up strong and straight are the ones that break.” ~J.B. Hill

For all of you reading this that are desperately trying to fight your way through a difficult situation by “being strong,” please, STOP IT NOW.  By saying this I don’t mean that you should give up the battle, I mean that you should give it up to God. Let it go. Let it go to Him. It is only through surrender that we find our true strength. Trust me on this one, I’ve learned the hard way too many times.

There have been some desperate and terrible periods in my life when I mistakenly thought being strong was my only choice. You know the sayings, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option,” or “You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it.” Although there was a time where I would have been all “hell yes!” to those sayings, I now call bullshit. The only place being strong has ever gotten me was down hard, to my knees, crying out in desperation to God to fix my broken life. Being strong is never the only option we have and we are never strong enough alone to make it through all the difficulties that life will throw at us. Being strong is so overrated.

My biggest lesson in surrender came about five years ago. Life had been difficult for a long time, on many levels. I had been the poster-child for what “being strong” was supposed to look like and I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was pretty obvious that my way wasn’t working and life could not continue the way I was trying to make it be. Something had to change. I had to give it up, which I eventually did–in a screaming, crying, desperate fit.

I was driving to work one morning when the tears began to uncontrollably flow. It was through these blinding tears that I looked to the heavens and screamed out loud (yes, literally) for Him to fix the brokenness that had become my life. I swear He was waiting for that moment because as soon as I let it go, a feeling of calm enveloped me. I knew immediately that things would work out–maybe not the way I thought they should–(obviously not working for me anyways) but that things would be okay. I also knew in an instant that I had been foolish in thinking I could just “be strong” and things would work out. Being strong for so long had blinded me to accepting the truth of my situation and kept me from reaching out to others that could help in my times of need. Being strong kept me from realizing that the things we often think are most important in this life, really are not. Being strong had kept me from pursuing an authentic and courageous life. Being strong kept me from taking care of myself and had kept me from turning to God when I needed Him most. Being strong had gotten me absolutely nowhere. Besides, I was SO tired of “being strong.”

I’d like to say that I immediately learned the the lessons that my big surrender brought. It took me a while longer to figure it all it out, but thankfully I did. I can’t imagine living through the last 15 months without leaning on God every single moment, of every single day. I can’t imagine where I would be if I had tried to “be strong.”

True strength comes only when we have the courage to give it up to God continually, not just when we are forced to our knees in broken surrender. And even though I still occasionally try to do it my way, it usually doesn’t last long. Strength comes when I am simply being patient, listening for the whispers, and learning to accept that life is the way it is. My strength comes from learning to bend in the storm.  My strength comes from my surrender. 

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5 thoughts on “Being strong is so overrated

  1. Reading this post makes this aunties eyes tear up. I appreciate you sharing this from your heart. I so wish that we would have been able to get together this summer. We have so much to talk about and I would really value that time together. Thinking of you each day. Sending a hug and love.

  2. Nice post! However, we sometimes literally have to be strong, go through terrible physical pains and different disasters which arise from being unable to function properly. I had to learn to sit, stand and walk again after a bad accident, and for many years every single step was causing pain. Life can change in one millisecond, all plans go down the pipe, all future intentions: everything. And, yes, we have to face all troubles not hiding from them, smile through tears while realizing that nothing is fair in this world. It’s just human to cry or scream out our troubles. While we are alive, we can help ourselves. I personally think that we have to be strong not to fall apart when life is testing us. It’s easy to grab a drink or a smoke, it’s not that easy to keep a clear head and have the courage to admit that we are weak, but we can find some strength even in ourselves. Self-pity is a bad thing and we shouldn’t engage in that.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry that you have had to endure such pain in your life. And unfortunately I am very well aware of the fact that “life can change in a milli-second.”

      In this post I write,”I can’t imagine living through the last 15 months without leaning on God every single moment, of every single day. I can’t imagine where I would be if I had tried to “be strong.”

      15 months ago, my mom, sister-in-law, and 8-year old niece were killed by a drunk driver. Two weeks after that, a dear friend of mine was killed in a car accident. Most recently, my dear friend’s husband suddenly passed away. In my work as a sexual and domestic violence advocate, I have also seen lives changed in an instant. Yes, life does change in a milli-second.

      Sadly, I have seen the pathways to healing impeded time and time again because people think that “being strong” is what they need to do to get through. The words are often times tossed about and people think there is something wrong with them if they are struggling to “stay strong” yet are instead falling apart. Being strong can keep you from being present and being present while working through the anger, sadness, pain etc. is essential to healing. Surrender does NOT equal self-pity, surrender equals strength. Refusing to RISE from surrender leads to self-pity, not from surrendering itself. Does that make sense?

      Instead of offering the words “be strong,” I now say “be courageous.” I picked up these words from a very wise youngster that shared them with a family member after the crash. Those words make so much sense to me. It takes courage to heal, courage to surrender, and courage to find strength to move forward from whatever life throws at us.

  3. Oh Missy – I am catching up on reading all my favorite bloggers. My heart echoes each and every word. It is dying to self (and our desires) where I have learned that real peace is found. Being strong is not meant to be done by ourselves, but through the all-powerful God whom all things are possible. I am going to choose “Being Courageous” every time, that ridiculous thought of being “strong” sneaks in. Love you! And THANK YOU for such a great reminder.

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