The Trouble with Staying Strong

We put a lot of value in strength.

Our movies and shows are filled with Superheroes, epic battles between good & evil, survival in the wilderness, stories of war where the hero does not give up. They are filled with people who say just the right line at the right time and their words change those around them! I mean, isn’t that what a true hero is? Strong and firm. Thick skin, unoffendable, untouchable, with big muscles, impressively quick wit and stable emotions that never bring them down. Nothing can stop them!

And yet in life, we aren’t really drawn to those sorts of people are we? Maybe they look good on a stage or on Facebook, and we do secretly admire them from afar, but in the end, they are just that: Another hero we will never measure up to.

The truth of the matter is that in real life, if we are going to relate to anyone on a deeper level at all, it isn’t going to be through their strengths, but through their weaknesses. Do they battle with anxiety? We feel it too. Did they lose their temper with their kids and look like an idiot in public? We may judge, but we’ve done it too. Do they give up when life just feels like too much? Do they waste hours on their phone to avoid the pain inside? Do they feel alienated by family and friends? Do they feel broken on the inside and wonder what must be wrong with them, thinking that no one else would possibly understand?

Do they sometimes just feel tired of trying to hold everything together, of being the strong one?

Me too.

I guess the question is, if we can relate so much with weakness in others, why is it that we despise it when we see it in ourselves?

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Sometimes, it’s better to be weak. It keeps us soft. It keeps us humble. It makes us relatable and even though it may seem counterintuitive, our weaknesses will do more in the long run to inspire others because it makes persevering through hardships seem doable. If everyone else seems strong and problem-less, we feel like we are at a disadvantage.

But when we see the truth, that they have struggled just as hard as we have… then it encourages us to keep going.

The problem with staying strong, is simply a lack of letting ourselves feel weak. Weakness humbles us and helps us to face the reality that we are no better than anyone else.

Weakness helps us to stay soft.

Yesterday, I felt incredibly weak – and I despised it. Today, I’m choosing to thank God that I don’t need to be strong. In fact, it might even be better if I’m not.