An Unknown Strength

There are many different kinds of strength.  There’s the kind of strength that lets you lift barbells.  The strength that leads you to serve or work to protect others.  There’s a kind of strength that makes you a good parent.  There’s strength of character, of conviction.  There’s a kind of strength that lets you open jars of salsa or move really heavy boxes of books. I’m pretty good at those last two.  And then there is the strength that you never knew you had.  That hidden measure that stays wrapped up in a ball, deep down in your soul, and explodes upward and outward when things get dark.

It’s the strength that leads people to face a tough diagnosis with their chins up and their shoulders back.  It turns people into fighters seemingly overnight.  It’s that strength that brings parents and spouses to sit calmly in waiting rooms instead of curling into a ball in the corner.  It’s powerful enough to block the “why me” and replace it with a deeper sense of wisdom.  You can’t flex or tone it, you can’t prepare it. It’s so hidden we don’t even know it exists until it’s required. Then it seems to spring out and flow through every fiber of the being until it’s so natural, such a part of a person’s soul, that no one can remember a time it wasn’t there.

I know that kind of strength exists because I’ve seen it.  I’ve witnessed someone experiencing something that I think would make a mere mortal just fall down and cry.  I’ve seen that person talk about gratitude and joy instead of sickness or pity.  I don’t understand that volume of strength.  And so I’ve thought about it; wondered about it; and now written about it.  And I still don’t understand.  But that’s ok, there are things we aren’t meant to understand.  It’s enough to know it exists, that sometimes, a person can do more than you thought possible, that the people you love can be even more incredible than you knew.  We’re never really alone in the dark; I don’t understand it, but I believe each person has a ball of hidden strength, deep down in their soul.  Maybe you’ll never need to use it, maybe it will just sit there, but just in case, we can know it’s there.

It’s enough to know.  To know that super heroes walk among us, people who are challenging themselves a little at a time to move forward, stand still, and do their best against the odds.  They don’t ask for accolades or credit, but I’ll give them anyway.  Because by the simple act of accepting the mantle and exposing their strength, they inspire everyone around them to do a little more, be a little more.  A little more grateful, a little more kind, a little more better, a little more whatever.  Just more.

I don’t understand that kind of strength, but I appreciate those that have it.

To every person walking around with that strength, to the folks who fought to get out of bed today, the people who play games to get through it, those with a quiet dignity and spines of steel, to the loved ones who sit in waiting rooms and hold hands, and to a very special lady I know- Thank You.  You’re making us all better by getting better yourselves.


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