Strong People

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Credit: Herr Olsen

People say I’m strong. Like it’s a rare quality that I have and others don’t.

They say I’m strong because I put my life back together.

They say I’m strong because I still have a sense of humor.

They say I’m strong because I don’t impose my emotions on others.

They say I’m strong because I still believe most people are good-hearted and kind.

I don’t think any of that makes me a strong person.

Some people want to believe that I came through everything undamaged. They want to believe being strong means being unaffected. They’re wrong.

Being strong doesn’t mean you aren’t negatively affected. Being strong means you do what needs to be done anyway, no matter what it costs you.

So, yeah. Sometimes I’ve been strong. Sometimes I’ve counted the cost and done the right thing even when it hurt me. Even when it cost me everything.

That doesn’t mean it was somehow easier for me than it would have been for anyone else. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt or terrified or sobbing the whole time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a strong person. I’ve often excused people in my life with a sad little shake of the head and a comment like, “Well, what can I really expect? He’s not a very strong person.”

But, what’s the difference between me and all the people who’ve passed through my life and been given a pass because they’re not strong?

Nothing.

Strength isn’t innate. It’s not something you either have or don’t have. We’re all capable of making tough decisions. Those choices aren’t somehow easier for so-called “strong” people. It’s just as messy and bloody and heart-breaking as it would be for anyone else.

The only difference between a strong person and a weak person are the choices they make.

Right or wrong?

To hate or to love?

Selfish or sacrificial?

Hey, you.

You’re a strong person.

We’re strong people.

Let’s act like it.

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