“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
- Joshua 1:9
So, I’m a Mommy to three absolutely amazing little boys. I’m separated from my husband, pending a divorce, and have to do all the day to day “parent” things on my own. I’m the Executive Assistant to the religious leader of the country, I volunteer in various capacities and am actively freelancing as a writer. Those who are close to me ask me all the time…“how do you do it?” And I really don’t know the answer. I just do it. That’s who I am. I am the girl that keeps going.
You would never know what I’m going through by looking at me. I wake up at 6am to change diapers, brush teeth, clean boogers and then drop my bundles of messy perfection to school. Then I sit in 45 minutes of traffic to make it to work on time. If you happen to see me during my commute, you will probably catch me fixing my hair, doing my makeup and dancing to the radio. That’s my routine and I do it every single morning. Even after the nights where I had only two hours of sleep or the mornings that I am woken up by killer cramps. I still have do what needs to be done. Not once since being separated from my husband have I taken a “mental health day” despite being blessed with the kind of job that would accommodate it. But it’s just not my style. Instead I prefer to keep it moving. So I show up every day and I do what needs to be done. I work out on my lunch breaks, prepare dinner when I knock off and then spend the nights feeding, bathing and playing with my munchkins. Oh and on a good night I get to squeeze in a television show or a couple chapters of a good book before crashing. This is my life right now. And even though it’s challenging, I do it every day. That’s just who I am.
Yet, in spite of all evidence to the contrary the last few months have broken me down quite a bit. I’ve had to deal with things that I never imagined and as much as I try to “grin and bear it” I’ve started to get very overwhelmed. On the surface, nothing seems to be wrong but beneath the surface I’ve been struggling. Struggling to accept my reality. You know, the whole divorced with three kids before 30 reality. But I think it’s finally catching up to me.
I have had an emotional couple days. If you know me you know that I’m not a “crier”. I don’t shed tears easily. I feel emotions. I articulate them. But I do not cry often. I’m pretty much a get on with it type of person. I don’t like to wallow, I don’t accept pitty from people and I don’t like feeling that I can’t handle whatever it is that I am going through. But the last two days have literally taken everything out of me. I don’t know what triggered it but I’ve really been on an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve felt extremely angry but couldn’t pin point what I was mad at. I’ve felt incredibly overwhelmed and didn’t really know why. I’ve cried like four times in the last 24 hours and had trouble identifying what was really wrong.
After talking with my mentor and my Dad I realized that what I was feeling was just natural. But because I don’t usually allow myself to feel these things it all seemed completely alien to me. I have used people and substances to alter my mood all my life. My first addiction was food, then I graduated to sex and relationships before swiftly progressing to narcotics. And once I removed the drugs, I went right back to the food and relationships. It’s only recently that I have started living life without any of them. I’m literally living my life on life’s terms. I’m not trying to manipulate anything or anyone and I don’t use substances (food included) to alter my moods anymore. I actually allow myself to feel my feelings. And feeling feelings is a whole new world for me.
I’ve kept myself so busy that I rarely have time to feel them. To allow them to sink in. To be vulnerable about them. I write about them in my blogs and I talk about it to my closest friends but that is it. Once I hit publish or hang up the phone, I’m done with those feelings and then I just get back to doing what the British so eloquently suggest…I keep calm and carry on. I just keep going.
I live by that. Keep going is my mantra. I wrote about it a previous blog post. I believe that I have access to all the strength that I need. I just have to tap into my power source, which for me is God. He gives me the strength to keep going every day. I know this for a fact. I wake up and I ask Him to give me enough strength to get through this day. I’m usually tired or running late. But I always stop and ask Him for strength and He always gives it to me. That’s the kind God He is and that’s what I believe in.
And that is why I end each blog I write with the phrase “Be strong…Be courageous…BE GREAT!” I guess it has become my signature in a sense. It inspires me. Not because I always feel strong, courageous and great, but instead because I know with God’s help I am all of those things.
I actually got this phrase from a bible text. The first chapter of the book of Joshua uses the words “strong” and “courageous” several times. Joshua had just taken over as leader of the Israelites after Moses’s death. In the first chapter of the book he is given his commission over the people of Israel. God had revealed His divine plan to Joshua and then manifested His purpose in Joshua’s life. But being told your purpose is a totally different thing than actually living in it. And in order for Joshua to live in that purpose he would have to follow a very specific command from God. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Three times in the first chapter God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. THREE TIMES. God was calling Joshua to a special and difficult ministry. He would face obstacles that were logically beyond his human capabilities. Let’s take the battle of Jericho for example, where he had to defeat an entire army and knock down a barricading wall before entering into the Promised Land. This was a task that an “ordinary” man accompanied by “ordinary” people would not have been able to logically fulfill. But God told him to be strong and courageous. And he was. His strength and his courage led his people into prosperity after 40 years in the wilderness. Joshua was able to live out his purpose and his destiny was fulfilled.
That is exactly what I want for my life. I want what Joshua had. I want to realize my calling and walk in it, despite how difficult that may sometimes be. I want to be strong. I want to be courageous. I want to be great. I want God to reveal to me over and over again what He wants for my life and I want to spend my days fulfilling it. That is my hearts desire and I will not stop until I get it done. That, for me, is greatness.
But sometimes we can misunderstand what strength and courage really looks like. Lately I’ve had to assess what those things are to me. Am I strong because I am able to keep my composure despite my world falling apart? Am I courageous because I write these blogs and inspire countless people on a weekly basis? What really defines me as strong and courageous?
Well, after thinking long and hard about it, my strength and my courage is defined in my weakness and my fears. I know it sounds crazy and it is a complete oxymoron but that is my truth. My strength can only be measured in comparison to the weak moments I have faced and my courage is only validated by the fears I am able to walk through.
I am strong because despite being absolutely heart broken by the fact that my marriage has failed, I still get up and face this world. I still believe in love and I trust that one day I will find it. I am courageous because as fearful as I am of being a single mother, I’m learning how to do it anyway. I’m choosing not to be bitter and resentful, but to accept this as a gift instead of a burden. I’m great because after I shed my tears, I wipe them away and I smile.
I don’t have to ignore my weakness. It is very normal to feel down, to feel angry, sad or even depressed. On most days I have a multitude of feelings, positive and negative. But a wise person told me that feelings are not facts. I can feel whatever I need to feel but at the end of it I can also choose what I’m going to be. I can choose to stay weak. I can choose to stay fearful. Or I can choose to be strong, I can choose to be courageous and I can choose to be great.
See my strength comes from knowing that I don’t have to stay weak. My courage comes from acknowledging my fears and taking that power away from them. My greatness comes from fighting even when I want to surrender. It comes from knowing that this situation is temporary and trusting that what God has for me is beyond my wildest dreams.
Strong, courageous and great are choices that I make. And you have the same choices as I do. God has given us all the same amount of grace. Ask for it. Ask Him to give you what you need to make it through. I promise you that He will. He gives it to me every single day. And the days that I don’t even want it, He gives it to me double. He will give it to you too.
Be strong…be courageous…BE GREAT!