“You are so strong.” That’s what a sweet friend of mine said to me this morning. Those words rolled around in my mind and stayed with me after our conversation had ended, and I rode the elevator to my room. “You are strong.” Her comment reminded me about the statements I tell my kids most nights before putting them to bed. My son, calls them the ‘Hunter is prayer.’
“You are brave. You are courageous. You are wise. You are kind. You are confident. You are gentle. You are loving. You are patient. You have self-controlled. You are fun. You are funny. You can do anything, as long as you do it WITH God.”
Nowhere in my list of attributes that I speak over my children night after night do I tell them they are strong. When I paused to think about that and think about why, I realized, that while I do want them to have the strength needed to endure any situation; I don’t want them to have to walk through the storms it takes to develop that strength. As a mom, how could I wish for them to suffer so that they have strength as an adult? That’s the ironic thing about someone who is strong. So many times, their strength is born from hardships, from pain, from having survived struggle after struggle. Strength that comes after gallons of tears have flowed and soaked the face. Strength like that is born from survivors who bear the battle scars of life. How could I possibly wish that for my children?
Strength is one of those attributes that develops over time. For me, my strength is the byproduct of a difficult life. I’m not strong today because my life was easy. I’m strong today because I had to be. I want my children to be strong and stand on their own two feet, but I don’t want the pain and suffering-I want different for them. I know they need to be strong, but I don’t want them to suffer and have the scar tissue that envelops me.
So, is there another way to develop strength without wishing for your children to go through a lifetime of storms? Is there a strength that can be developed some other way?
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. “Isaiah 40:31
I think yes. I want my children to have a kind of strength that I’m only now developing. The strength others see in me is not the kind of strength I want for my children. I’m strong because I’ve put up walls and barricades to protect myself when necessary. I’m strong because I’ve pulled myself up by my proverbial bootstraps. My strength is from relying on my own abilities day after day and year after year. I am only understanding now, there is another way to be strong and another source where true strength comes from. Strength that will hold you upright and sustain you no matter the storm. Strength that does not depend on your own abilities and volition. Strength, genuine strength, that you can possess when you are at your weakest and most vulnerable. That kind of strength, the kind I want for myself and my children comes only from growing deep roots in Christ. It’s when we have our roots so deep into Him, into who He is and who He says we are, that true strength is cultivated. It’s only when we can rest during the storms and not have to fight for each step that true strength is used. It’s when we realize that regardless of the severity of the trial we’re facing, that the one who made us and called us by name is the one who sustains us and will carry us-that true strength is produced.
Is that possible? Can one REALLY be strong when you are at your weakest and most vulnerable? Can my children learn to sprout their own seeds of strength by deepening their roots in Christ and not focusing on their own abilities and strength? Can they develop genuine strength without it coming with the price of deep suffering?
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your 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 my weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
How? You may ask. What would that look like to be strong without using my own inner abilities? What would it look like to rest amid trial and hardships and struggle? How do I become strong while I wait? How do I stay strong during the middle of the unknown where all around me is darkness?
You deepen yourself in Christ. You dive deep into the scriptures and call out and cry out to Him. You cling and claim the promises He gave you in the scriptures. Then, you rest at the feet of the one who made the universe. You trust in the one who is outside of time and space and already in your tomorrows. You grow your roots so deep into Him that you can withstand the hurricanes of life. You, equip your children, to know who is the source of all power and support them during their storms. And you go forward knowing that the storms and the trials and the struggles will come for them, as they did for me. But maybe, with a life rooted in Christ, they will not only survive the storms but thrive in the midst of them. That, is genuine strength. To know who holds you and sustains you and fights for you while you rest. You do that, and you will be strong!