I have been asking myself lately what quality I want to have and work on the most that I don’t already have or one that I need to continue to work on. Yes, I am incredibly honest and I’m engaging, smiley, independent, transparent, empathic, and I could do I use boasting about all these traits I seem to have. Don’t get me wrong, I have a LOT to work on internally and am currently working in the external as well.
My area of focus for today though is Strength. What is true strength?
I’m not talking about how much weight when you lift but it IS a great picture of how this works. When I started struggling with a few medical issues and started rock climbing, I hired a trainer and asked him to help me get “strong”. I knew I needed to lose a few pounds but I had been so focused on weight loss as the goal that I thought I knew how to get there and yet finally realized that I was lacking the truth in the tools to make that goal. Of course, as I started strength-training, my body leaned out and I lost about 25 lbs in just a few months and learned so much more about myself and about reaching goals.
And so, becoming emotionally strong has prerequisite tools as well. One of the first and most used tools for me is understanding that God is ultimately in control. Yes, He allows us to fall and accomplish a lot but I truly see that I fall much less and get much farther when I keep Him as my center and also give Him the glory for all that I do in a positive way. Yep, it annoys people that I do that but I will not deny Him and His work in my life.
The next tool to use in strengthening one’s self is a focus on positivity and the choice to choose joy, which doesn’t translate necessarily to being “happy.” As a Christian, I am fully aware that the Bible never uses the word “happy” in a way that we paint it today.
In a research paper for IFWE, biblical scholar Jonathan Pennington writes that,
“[In] the biblical sense of ʾashrê/makarios, true human flourishing and well-being can only be found in relationship with God and through alignment with his coming kingdom. That is, while it is important that we realize thatʾashrê/makarios are casting a vision of human flourishing, it is equally important to see that this flourishing can never occur fully apart from a proper relationship with the creator God. All of the Bible’s vision of human flourishing both now and in the age to come either assumes or explicitly states this fact.”
Therefore, finding that inner-peace and pushing through has got to come from another source-not who you are with, how others see you, your social status, or what you have in your possession. Many say it comes from within and that is mostly correct. As humans we don’t naturally look inside ourselves and find what makes us whole. In many senses, what gives us security (which the need for is engrained in us from the time we’re born), is the same thing that gives us strength. Or rather what “should” give us that. 😉 We have to be content with who we are and know that no matter what another thinks, we are enough. Period. End of story. We were perfectly made in God’s image and we need to let that satisfy and satiate us. If we can truly feel whole, then we can appreciate life fully and enjoy both the ups and downs, knowing we do not get our worth in the down times.
Choosing joy is a huge part of that. To choose joy means that although you may “feel” (have the emotion of) some way other than positivity, you will smile and understand that life is okay despite circumstances or feelings. Life is still good-we still have LIFE! Wow…and yes, it’s an amazing gift and we can share with others and hopefully impact them in a positive way while we’re at it.
Another part of strengthening one’s self is to bear with the hard times. Look at it like lifting a weight and when it starts to hurt, THAT is when your muscle has the opportunity to grow, so you can’t let go-you keep with it. The same can be said of a relationship. My boyfriend reminds himself whenever he struggles, “The high cost of growth is pain.” Yes! Growth is painful so to be strong, you’re going to have to push through.
I used to hate the saying, “this too shall pass.” I despised it because it didn’t feel like those lows would ever get better, but they always did. I have been in some crazy low places physically and emotionally and I have to say, out of life, those times were incredibly significant to me in my growth.
I say this to myself as I go through currently a lot of spiritual warfare in which I am told that “I can’t do this…” (whatever the this may be). I start to believe that lie and all the other lies being firehosed at me until I break and end up having a full blown seizure. I’m still going through tests etc but I’m going to call it how I know that I see it. But…I know, I KNOW, God is working in me, strengthening me for something big. Satan is trying his best to throw anything he can to thwart my course and to convince me to deny Christ or ultimately that I can’t get through life.
I am so thankful that my strength inside comes from Him. I know I can get through anything because God is in control.