Lots of people say I have it. In loads. I never agree. I always think of it more as having no other choice. I'm reminded of that quote that's roaming all over Facebook that says one never knows how strong they are until he or she has no other choice but to be strong. I guess that's how I've always viewed strength.
My grandmother had a rough life. She was one of the strongest women I know, but again, as a single mother of 8 divorced from a cheating, alcoholic and abusive husband in the late 40s, what choice did she have?
My mother and father didn't have the easiest lives. My dad grew up in very poor Appalachian Virginia, the son of many generations of coal miners. Think living in tar shanties. For real.
My mother would have been glad to have that...she and two of her brothers (most of her brothers and sisters were much older than the youngest three...) and my grandmother often considered themselves lucky to live in a car. Depend on the Salvation Army for weekly meals. Seriously...hard lives.
But they were both strong. Ended up coming from the lives they did before me and my siblings to the lives we lived with them...ones where they were educated and successful and thrived.
And so did we. I've never wanted for anything that I needed, and though I worked hard to do it, I put myself through school, got a few degrees that I don't do a darned thing with, and have always felt like I could do just about anything I wanted to...if the motivation was there. I come from a line of people most would consider strong, and I guess most would consider me strong too.
Especially those who have known me in the past several years...whether teaching (and if you don't think THAT takes amazing strength, you obviously have no idea what a teacher's life is really like!), or dealing with years and years of infertility, or losing my mom, or John's dad...being a military spouse and separated from John more than most people could even fathom, losing Matthew, losing his sister or brother...I guess it's fair to say that many people think I am strong.
But I've never thought of it as anything but the only option. What else DOES one do? I know the answer to that, but truthfully, with the exception of the first few weeks after Matthew died, I've never, ever, EVER considered actually giving up a feasible option. It was all about Survival. Period. If people see that as strength, I guess I can't convince them otherwise.
Something about this acceptance that strength is just all one can be in light of devastation in his or her life has been bothering me.
Because the reality is, it's NOT. Being strong is NOT the only choice.
It IS a choice, but it's not the only one.
And I think I've been undercutting myself. I went in this morning for what I PRAY is the last blood test to see if my HCG is 5 or under and the woman who has been taking my blood said, "I don't mean to pry, but are you pregnant?"
No. I'm not. Anymore.
I told her what was going on and saw she was visibly moved. Luke was being as cute as he could be, flirting with her and making us giggle as we were both tearing up, and she said, "Well, I'll pray for you. I can tell you have such a strong, strong family."
I sort of rolled my eyes and said, "Well, don't know about strong, but we are blessed, that is for sure."
How wrong of me.
We are blessed, no doubt, but we are ALSO strong.
A friend emailed me the other day about a dream she'd had and in it, she shared with me how God was telling me that He just needed me to give Him control and to wait in Him. Just to wait and allow Him to bless us even more than we could imagine. I told her that I feel like I have, for the most part, but this last week of blood testing has been dragging and I've been impatient. Last night, she emailed me a verse:"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14
She had come across it and thought it fitting in light of our conversation. I did too...because two weeks ago in church in Pensacola, we sang Be Strong and I cried as I did.
I love that hymn. My grandmother loved that hymn. I cried as I was singing because being strong is hard, and being of good courage is even harder...especially when your heart is broken again and again. But I believe the end...that the victory is won. And for me, that was worth crying.
So, after I get this email with this verse, seriously, fewer than 3 minutes passed and I saw another post from another friend with THE.VERY.SAME.VERSE in my newsfeed. Two people COMPLETELY unaware of each other (they have no knowledge of each other and don't even have any similarity to anything other than maybe they are both friends of mine. They don't even live in the same countries.).
The point is...that same verse. Being strong and being of good courage and waiting on God.
As a woman who waited for what seemed like eternity (ok, 10.5 years) to bring a child into our lives, I feel like whether or not I wanted to, I've gotten good at waiting on God.
I also feel like the mere fact that Luke lives shows I am able to be of good courage because without good courage, I'd never have been able to go through another cycle...or the one we just did...being of good courage means knowing the worst can (and does happen) and you still have faith that it may be just what your heart desires. So, I feel like I'm good on that.
It's the being strong.
I always deny being strong.
My bad. I AM strong. I'm going to start claiming it. He tells us all to...to be strong in Him.
Doesn't mean that I am superhuman or act superhumanly...but in His strength, I AM strong.
That's a big deal. To me, at least.
Tomorrow, the Still Standing magazine launches. I am beyond excited about this magazine because it's hard to believe that I am part of a group of women who have had the unbearable happen in their lives, and they not only bear it, but bear it beautifully. Amazingly. With strength that they've CHOSEN to exhibit. I think you'll be pretty impressed with the stories and lives of these women, and we'd all be honored if you visit.
See what strength looks like.
It's pretty awesome.