What does it mean to be strong?
The answer to this question isn’t as obvious as you might think.
In fact, the answer you might give in this very moment, will likely differ from the answer you give a year from now…..a month from now…..a week from now.
Your answer will surely differ from the person sitting next to you on the bus. Just as surely as it will differ from the person sleeping next to you at night.
Strength is a quality that can be measured in weight, in speed, in heart, in sweat, in tears, in honesty, in action, in the trodden path you’ve left behind.
Strength is relative. And as often as the evidence of its presence appears in physical form…..it is all mental.
Just this morning, I made chocolate cupcakes with my kiddos (which….trust me, requires Wonder-Woman-level strength in the form of patience), and as we were waiting for the cupcakes to bake, I asked them…..
“What does it mean to be strong?”
I love asking my kids questions like this, because their answers are always so honest, so simple, and yet so profound.
Clara said, “It means to be good. It means you can lift a big car.”
Liam said, “It means you can move heavy things. It’s showing your muscles.”
I agreed. And then, I dug a little deeper.
“Have you ever had to be strong in a different way? Like when you were scared? Or sad?”
“Yes,” said Liam. “Sometimes my tears are like…..little raindrops of strength. They mean that I’m doing something tough. Like my first day of school.”
I take a deep breath, and sigh. My god. So much beauty from this little boy’s mind.
All too often, tears are associated with weakness. And yet, could they not equally be associated with strength?
How many times have I bawled my eyes out, in moments of all-out emotion? Were those moments not moments when I needed to dig deep and find the will within myself to carry on? Were those moments not moments of great transformation and strength?
To others, strength is something that reflects the ability to endure:
“Strong means you can meet any challenges. Strength to overcome.”
“It means don’t quit, don’t give up.”
“Strong is finishing a class with you, especially today’s class. Yikes.”
Still others feel that strength is a reflection of hard work. Effort. Energy. And commitment.
“Strength is carrying the groceries in one trip!”
“Having or marked by great physical power……or did you mean the acronym for STRONG….South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding. Not sure which one you were looking for.”
Cute. Very cute.
But truly, strength is somewhat of a shape shifter. A chameleon. A malleable piece of metal that bends in reaction to what kind of blow is being given to it.
Just when you think you can say, “I am strong!” Life throws you a curveball, and puts your strength to the test in an entirely new way.
“These days, for me strong means taking a hard look at your life, asking yourself the tough question and having the uncomfortable conversations.”
Strength is vulnerability. And truth. And the ability to look at things head on, with acceptance.
To me? Well, to me, strength is the ability to endure. To say “yes”.....when saying “no” would be so much easier.
It is the willingness to see with honest eyes. And an open heart. To be willing to cry. To laugh. To be yourself.
To be strong is to face your fears. To witness your thoughts....”I don’t know if I can”.....and to keep walking forward anyways.
True strength is empowering yourself with action and positivity in the face of indecision, self-pity, and darkness.
STRONG is a verb. An action. A mindset.
What does STRONG mean to you?