Sunday, December 29, 2013

Strength

The longer I continue to live out my years, the more I realize that thoughts I had...and even felt totally passionate about when I was young, were well....not totally right...I mean, I was on the right track (because I'm never wrong, ha!), but I needed a few more years of experience to teach me some things that my books couldn't quite teach my 21 year old, idealistic mind.  So, here's a few thoughts.  As always, take them as you wish, but my intention is that if you are/have been in the same boat, I hope that they are words of comfort and encouragement.

Strength.  It can mean all sorts things depending on who you are.  If you're Arnold Schwarzenegger, it can mean large muscles...if you're Gandhi it means holding firm to your beliefs...if you are Donald Trump it means power and money.  When I was young, strength meant doing what I wanted...and if there was a way for me to make the word 'I' more capitalized I would!  No one was getting in the way of MY dreams or MY plans...after all, I'm a smart, capable, 21st century woman.  NOTHING was stopping me...and those who allowed things to stop them were weak, in my opinion.  After all, society told me that I was a STRONG woman, I can do anything I wanted, and anyone or anything who stopped me was merely a blockade.  Hold off on having kids too...because they can cloud those dreams.  What I did not anticipate is that my 'blockade' came from the most unlikely places.  It didn't come from a chauvinistic CEO, a controlling boyfriend, or a glass ceiling....it came from love.

I had been married for three years...still clinging pretty hard to these beliefs.  I was in the job I wanted, living a good life with my husband.  But my husband had a dream...and he couldn't do it alone.  He needed support...and not just anyone's.  He needed mine.  If he didn't have it, he wouldn't be able to do it.  Because his dream involved the military...and if you are a military wife, or you know one, you have an idea that that's not just the active duty member's job...it's the family's job.  This meant I had to give up my job that I had gone to school for quite some time for....leave my friends and family, oh, and probably not even see him for about 6 or so months out of the year due to training.  But, I did it.  Not without a fight though.  I can't tell you the inward struggle I had...my 'strong woman' mantra was blaring so loudly in my head at times.  But then, a much quieter voice started to ask 'who are you to stomp out his dreams?' and then it said 'he loves you, I have you both in my hand, you will be fulfilled...but  not the way you planned on.'  The more I thought on these things, the more I realized what the answer was.  And my personal definition of strength began to change.  I now saw that strength doesn't always mean barging your way through...don't get me wrong...it can be that.  But there are other times when strength looks a lot like patience and sacrifice.  I mean, after all, who is stronger...the person who says 'it's all about me and what I want', or the person who says 'I've got your back no matter what the price.'  I'd rather have the latter personally...and when I saw that, I realized that's the person I wanted to be...no, the person I NEEDED to be.

I say all this to tell you, strength takes all shapes and sizes...and it can mean different things depending on the season of your life.  If you are in a season of life that strength means you have to sacrifice, first let me tell you, you are NOT weak, and please do not let anyone tell you that you are.  Sacrifice is hard...it is the opposite of what we are often told is 'right'.  Doesn't that take more strength?  Also, know that it is a season.  Sacrifice typically doesn't last our whole lives...mine is personally in seasons...depending on when my husband is or isn't home.  And you know what?  Even though it's HARD, I'm happier for it.  I see him thriving, I see our marriage thriving, I see myself doing things that I never imagined...because they are BETTER than I imagined.  Strength.  It is so much more than what this world tells us it is.   
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