Thursday, August 9, 2007

How Strong Am I?

I recently read Twice Blessed's post dealing with strength entitled Strength...God's Gift and it made me think enough about the subject that I wanted to explore it myself.

People are always telling me how strong they think I must be and how much they admire what I am doing and how they could never do it themselves. Sometimes what they tell me is actually insulting even though they never mean it that way.

There are different kinds of strength of course. There is physical strength which itself can be of several kinds. Endurance for instance is different from lifting great weights. There is mental strength which might be measured by IQ or by various other tests depending upon the context. For instance a good sales person might have intelligence that is much better for selling things than the stereotypical science nerd. There is emotional strength which has to do with preserving (or developing) one's own character. Spiritual strength has to do with preserving one's faith, that is preserving and developing the most fundamental preconceptions about the source and meaning of life.

My self-image contemplates all of these aspects of my life and probably even more. The experience of living is continually testing and changing that self-image.

For instance when I was a young man and just entering the army I thought I was very physically strong. I thought I could endure just about anything. But my army experience taught me that my physical endurance had limits. Many early business successes made me believe my business acumen was almost limitless. Years later I found out that wasn't true. Either way the self-image is adjusted to reflect the lessons of living.

Caregiving is a life experience which tests, and thereby develops, all of the basic areas of strength. It can be extremely physically demanding. It challenges the best education and intelligence. It is emotionally difficult. And it definitely makes one question philosophy and faith.

Strangely enough, or maybe not, my life had actually prepared me to be a caregiver. By the time I started I had learned to live alone. I had learned that all relationships are temporary. I had learned that I could survive any number of difficulties. I had learned that I was not perfect but that it wasn't required. I had learned I needed help and not to be afraid to ask for it. I had learned that having purpose is a good thing. I had learned that God was faithful and trustworthy.

Even so caregiving was challenging from the onset and I have learned many things both about caregiving and myself.

Strangely enough, given the title of this post, I do not view myself as particularly strong at all anymore. I think it may be because I have bumped up against so many of my actual limits. But it is those times when whatever I am doing requires more than I can actually deliver that The Lord somehow provides for me. I do not know how this works and it is beyond my ability to describe it really. Nonetheless it has happened again and again and I know it will happen in the future.

But it isn't my strength. Rather it is His.


Lori1955 said...

I have certainly learned this past week that the only strength I have right now is what I am given by leaning on the Lord.
Great post!!

~Betsy said...

Your post has given me a great deal to think about. I have often thought of myself as strong. I was always the strong one emotionally, taking charge and doing what needed to be done. I could always collapse later. But this last almost 2 years has pushed me to the absolute limit. My strength is drained, to the point I can barely get out of bed in the morning. It's time for me to let go and let God.
Great post!

nancy said...

great post!!! thanks for sharing. be home soon!