A day after my father passed away, I was in the family kitchen making breakfast—something my dad always did for the family, so I started to think about him. I could feel myself on the cusp of breaking down into tears. However, my sister was standing next to me and my natural defenses took over, shutting down my emotions. Being vulnerable doesn’t come easily for me, but shutting down does. I realized in that moment that it wasn’t fair to any of my loved ones to hide how I felt. It also wasn’t good for my own health. So I made a conscious decision to allow my emotions to show no matter what. It took more inner strength than I expected.
I was surprised by how difficult it was. I had to fight my natural instincts, and when my emotions came out, I felt weak and exposed. But in reality, showing them took more strength. Pretending I was fine would have been much easier. While it would have felt stronger, it would have been pure weakness. Unfortunately, there are several things that we perceive as weakness that actually show our strength, courage, and character. Here are 5 things that require more inner strength than you think.
I know this sounds trivial, but I hate making lunch. I don’t even like making it for myself, let alone for others. So, every day, I’m hoping my wife has made lunch for herself and the kids by the time I go to make mine. This is especially true if they want macaroni and cheese (I hate cheese, even the smell of it. And yes, I know, I’m weird). Small, mundane sacrifices that require us to give up our time, energy, and desires are difficult because they may not get noticed or even appreciated. But we do them because of our love for our families.
2. Being Vulnerable
Showing our real selves takes courage. We open ourselves up to judgment, rejection, and hurt. While it may be easier and safer to put up walls, it’s also lonely.
I’m always fearful that when I admit to being wrong, it opens me up to attack. It may mean I’m wrong in another situation, perhaps many others. The reality is I am wrong—a lot. I think the wrong things, say the wrong things, have the wrong perspective. I’m arrogant, proud, boastful, brash, selfish, quick to speak, unkind, and judgmental. Apologizing forces us to confront the worst parts of ourselves, to make relationships right again, and to become better. People who don’t apologize are either weak or are completely lacking in character.It takes inner strength to forgive and let go of our judgment.
Whenever I feel wronged, I always want to punish the other person. It feels good and gives me a sense of righteousness. While it’s easier to respond that way, it keeps me in a cycle of bitterness. I feel better for a little while, but then I think about the person again and become angry and desire more punishment. It takes inner strength to forgive and let go of our judgment, but in the end it frees us from the bitter cycle and emotional entanglement with the person who hurt us.
When we think about things that take strength, we normally don’t think about submission. And yet, when I think about strong people in history, one of the first to come to mind is Jesus of Nazareth. Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” He affirmed this with his own words in Luke 22:42, when he says, “…not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was willing to submit to God’s plan. It takes strength and trust to submit to God’s plan for our lives rather than plotting out our own safe, predictable path. But I’ve personally found that the path that God lays out, while certainly not pain free, is filled with twists, turns, thrills, and unexpected blessings. It’s anything but boring.
Sound off: What are some other things that require a great amount of inner strength?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some things you do that require a lot of strength?”