Strength begins with what holds it up

Let’s talk about being strong.
I always thought I was strong.  I figured I must have been since I have survived many things.  HeartacheS. HeartbreakS.  Loss. Abandonment. Disappointment. Betrayal. Worry. Fear. Over-analysis. Stress. Career change. Cancer.  Having gone through all that and back, I assumed I must have developed thicker skin or something, right?  But up until I sat beside this chocolate-sharing lady on a plane on my way back from a Cebu trip exactly two years ago, I realized maybe I had it all wrong.
I remember weeping.  A weeping so inconsolable, you could sense the despair in my sobs and feel the incredible sadness oozing from my pores.  At that time though, I thought they were tears of joy.  Really. I had convinced myself  that I did really well that week.  That helping  him move there was the best thing. For both of us.  It wasn’t goodbye, I thought.  It was just something we needed to do.  And I had been so strong all of the days during that trip.  Contained all my emotions and feelings inside myself.  I didn’t cry or flinch in front of him. I didn’t cling.  I didn’t say anything to betray what was really going on inside of me.  I focused on how much this move was going to make him happy. Finally.
In hindsight,  what I should have asked myself then was why the hell I was crying like someone really close to me died? Why was I crying so hard, my chair shook.  This lady beside me, bless her soul, she had tissue enough for an army.  Which was a good thing because I didn’t have any.  I could feel her watching me as I blew my nose and as I tried my best to sob silently, facing the window, looking at the clouds covering the afternoon sky; my puffy, scrunched up face reflected back to me. This wasn’t goodbye, I thought. It was just a temporary thing. We would survive the distance, the time away, whatever temptation.  Our commitment was strong.  We survived London. And this was Cebu, just an hour away and in the same time zone.  Right?
Anyway, after what seemed like a lifetime, the tears ran dry and I finally stopped.  I was feeling pretty proud at that point, thinking that what mattered most was I held it together in front of him, that it also felt good to finally let it out right then, that it didn’t matter that the nice lady beside me was looking at me with pity.  I tried to return her pack of Kleenex when she handed me a fun size Snickers bar and told me I could keep her tissue.
Then she said, “You know, you remind me of my daughter.  She used to be like you. Scared, worried, weak.  But you’ll see, it always get better.  Whatever it is you are going through, everything works out.  God will take care of you.  You should see her now, so strong and self assured.”
I smiled and asked what her daughter’s name was, what she did for a living, where she lived.  But what I really wanted to tell her as she showed me photos of her kids,  was that she had no idea what she was talking about,  that I wasn’t sad at all, that just because I was crying didn’t mean I wasn’t strong and that she had it and me all wrong.  I would have explained this all to her too but I was too exhausted.
It took my articulating this story as a funny anecdote to a couple of my girlfriends back home to realize that that lady had more of a clue than I did.  She was right.  I wasn’t strong; that whimpering me in my seat, feeling as small as I did wasn’t strength at all.  That pretending everything was alright in front of my (now ex) boyfriend (we broke up a couple of months later) wasn’t a sign of power; that my idea of strength was in fact, fragile, tenuous and misguided.  I was so desperate to keep things together but was actually fraying rapidly at the seams.  The lady saw right through it of course, and at that time I had no idea that I didn’t have enough fingers to plug the many holes on a dam that was about to break.
So I am convinced today that that lady was some kind of angel or something.  I still have the fun size Snickers bar she gave me.  Here it is.   It’s been in my fridge for awhile.  I never ate it. I don’t intend to.

Snickers Strength

Which brings me to my point.  I didn’t know strength until I knew how truly weak I was.  Until I knew I needed help. Until I had a stranger/lady on a plane tell me like it is.  Until I knew I didn’t know anything at all.
After everything that’s been said and done, it’s not having survived all of those things that makes me strong.  It’s knowing G and what he’s done for me that builds my spiritual muscle and what keeps my capillaries going and my arteries unclogged.  It’s the fact that he is strong  that allows me to be strong and to have a chance at a heart that’s whole, like Caleb. G makes me believe that no Jericho is big enough to beat and win over.
I have a ways to go, that I am sure of,  but I can bet with anyone I won’t be weeping in any more planes any time soon.  Thanks again, G.
One step at a time
















grateful slice:  real strength and knowing where it really comes from (Oh and snickers bars)



  1. Emily Manson

    I discovered this site while doing one of my many trivial searches. When I came across this one, it just spoke. You have such a way with words, butterflybound. Keep writing, and good luck with the 50 books challenge!

    • butterflybound

      Thank you so much for your comment, Emily. I really appreciate it. 🙂 So glad you passed by.

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