What does it mean to be strong?
Images of strength inundate us in advertising and media. Athletes who surpass what was once possible, stories of heroic acts of survival, superhuman efforts in the face of adversity, overcoming insurmountable illness, heartache, and loss; are all examples which take tremendous strength and fortitude.
But who is the strongest?
The ultrarunner, competing in 100+ races.
Or the person fighting the battle against a medical illness and the doctors are astonished she is as functional as one is, given tests and barometers, one will eventually be in a wheelchair and systemically the illness will attack other organs and may reduce one's life rate.
Is it the strength of character or inner determination that has waylaid the illness which has typically crippled others?
What is the quality that defines strength?
So what makes one stronger than another? Many criteria measure strength. It can be broken down into physical, character, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or is it something else, something unmeasurable?
Again, what is the quality that defines strength?
Is it elemental?
Is it ethereal?
Or is it an inner power?
Monks can sit in meditation for days on end. Is that inner conviction a strength, which many do not hold?
Is it the size of the muscles that makes one strong? Jockeys have the reputation as, pound for pound, being the strongest athlete. Bodybuilders look strong and can lift massive weight yet may lack stamina or flexibility. If one is weak in one area of their lives, does that make them less strong?
True strength is not measurable until tested. Those who do not appear capable may rise to the call when faced with the ultimate trial. Each of us possesses personal kryptonite that illuminates our weakness. So, perhaps what defines the marker for measurement is not determinable at all.
Strength has many faces that cannot be categorised or predicted
Real strength can be doing what others may feel is abhorrent. Standing up for the underdog or showing compassion even for those who have wronged us.
It can be defined by reaching around to a place of softness and acceptance when fury rages inside, instead of the easier route of hardening our soul; yielding to the pliability of acceptance rather than the rigidity of unwavering judgment.
It can be seen when smiling in the face of adversity or shaking off the disappointment to stand up again, swallowing our pride while acknowledging defeat. Other evidence that one possesses that unquantifiable quality is our convictions’ strength, announcing that the Emperor has no clothes when others stand mute to the truth.
It is also the ability to keep going, one step at a time against the wind, up the mountain, or into the darkness of our soul. Knowing stopping is not an option, yet putting aside our own needs to reach out a hand to help another.
We will never comprehend our strength and endurance until we are pressed
It is unknowable and undefinable. It cannot be seen on the surface. We can suppose and assume, yet until we overcome our inner battles, stepping forward to do the right thing with deep moral integrity, will we know our measure.
The bravado some wear may prove contrary to their actions. Still, unless we can look into another’s soul and understand what they have experienced, we cannot judge how they will respond.
History has proven it is often the unexpected one that digs the deepest.
We all possess undying strength.
“Sometimes it is the hidden power of the softest touch or the gentlest voice that affects the most difference. The many faces of strength may surprise us.”
How strong are you?
“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength” ~ Oprah Winfrey