Strength. It’s something I see all around me, clear as day. I am surrounded by people that I see as examples of strength. I recognize it in people I know and those I don’t. I see strength in every age group, gender, and any other label or group you want to consider. It’s everywhere.
I see it in the couple who has lost their home and are living, together, in a truck while they work to get back on their feet. I see him squeezing her hand, loving and encouraging her, while she shares their story. I see the tears in his eyes as he adds details of how they’re working to improve things. Strength.
I see it in the widow who lost her husband in an accident one year ago and has put one foot in front of the other for the last twelve months. The woman who embraced love again. The mother who has held her children and cried with them and shared their joys and resiliency too. Strength.
I see it in the woman who stands tall and confident, carrying no shame of her own, as she rebuilds her life after finding out her husband cheated on her. And also in the couple who rebuilt a life together after an infidelity as well. Both paths are far from easy and neither is right or wrong. Both show strength.
I see it in the smiles of children missing their fathers and wives missing their husbands, while those men are out to sea or deployed overseas. I see it in those families continuing to live, keeping on keeping on. I see it in those families taking days of rest and lying low. Strength.
I see it when parents or grandparents pass away and friends are left with emotions to process but without that person they’ve always depended on to help with that. I see these friends take deep breaths and hold back tears. I see these friends break down unexpectedly. Strength.
I see it at the YMCA every day. The mothers who come in, children in tow, each with their own story. Some watching their children learn to swim. Others setting an example of sweating out stress. I see it in the instructors who set aside their woes to lead with smiles and empowering words. I see it in my co-workers who share the best of themselves with our members, welcoming them and supporting their goals. In those who work with, play with, and guide other people’s children. In the dads who carry their kids back out to the car, cuddling them close from the rain, whispering to them about whatever is important today. Strength.
I see it in my children as they grow. I see the confidence to be who they are. I see them doing what’s right. I see them learning to respectfully speak their minds and live their values. I see them stepping out into a world that holds so many unknowns, but doing so excitedly. Strength.
I see it in my husband who has served his country and loved his family, made difficult sacrifices to one to do the other. I see him make unpopular choices that he feels are right with confidence in himself, regardless of others’ opinions. I see him doing what’s right even when he doesn’t know anyone is watching. Strength.
I see it in me. In the way I tell my story. In the way I support others. In the way I love and care and serve. Strength.
I know that none of us is strong all the time. And that, too, is a kind of strength – knowing when to let someone else handle it or simply give yourself a break. It’s there, though. Strength.
I see it all around and I’m inspired by it. I’m encouraged by it. And I can’t help but think that each of our worlds would be more positive and good if we all took a minute to look up and see the strength in our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and families. It seems to me that sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the weaknesses in others, the places we’re divided. We comment on the disagreements we have more than looking at where we have common ground.
What if we just stopped?
Maybe just for today? Or this week? Or this month?
What if we put the spotlight on the connections we have, the places we overlap, or the goals we have in common? What if we highlighted our strengths?
Would we be stronger?