How to be Strong

I was feeling weak and vulnerable. Awake most of the night, I was anxious about house-buying decisions and transitions; then dragging around in a fog early the next morning,

When I showed up to take care of Eliza, Mary and John read my expression. Sharing with them briefly through my tears, and hearing their responses eased the pain.

I began to see some things differently in the light of day. I recalled the times I wish I’d asked for support; when I swallowed hard and acted strong and together. It wasn’t arrogance that caused me to appear unruffled and unemotional. I believed my stalwart demeanor was expected and even required. Everyone has challenges and no one wants to hear me complain about mine, I thought. I was self-conscious about my labored droning on and wasting someone’s time.

I never set out to be the strong one.

When I was a single mom of two young kids I pushed my emotions down deep inside. It was my responsibility as the care-giving parent to keep it together. I was worried that my son could be harmed by my debilitating emotional pain. I was the sole provider, working two jobs at times. I wanted to show him what I knew to be true: that God is a good Father and He would see us through.

My daughter with autism was ultra-sensitive to other’s emotions, and reflected what she perceived. I was extra vigilant when around her (and still am!) as her expressiveness could be very difficult to corral and manage.

Recalling my childhood I don’t remember ever talking about feelings. The unspoken message was to be quiet and good. We knew our parents loved us unconditionally, but it wasn’t exactly in vogue to share feelings.

Once while walking with my friend Cynthia, I casually mentioned how hard it had been staying up all hours of the night with Dawn who couldn’t get to sleep. It was an ongoing problem for years. It became routine; Tom and I would take turns staying up to keep her calm and try to coax her down to bed, sometimes not getting her to sleep until daybreak. It was horrible! Cynthia stopped abruptly and said she’d always wondered why I’d never complained about raising my special daughter. She didn’t know how I’d kept it together.

Another clue that I was holding it all inside.

I remember a pastor discussing what it’s like to have a broken heart. Without warning, I broke down in a way that I’d never done in the past and haven’t since. I hurt so deeply inside and couldn’t quit crying. Every memory demanded my attention. That very day I’d had such  difficulty managing Dawn’s behavior so I could attend church. I cried so much that morning, experiencing such pain but ended up feeling freer somehow.

When my sweet mom passed away a few years back, so many griefs from the past seemed to tag along right beside the recent grief and loss. I promptly felt the pain of an earlier divorce, of raising a cognitively disabled child who needed constant attention and raising a son without his father. As I looked back, I actually felt sorry for that girl who endured so much pain and wished it could have been different for her.

Evidence of storing the pain away.

Recently, days apart, I bumped into two acquaintances from church. In each case, when I asked, “How are you doing?” each indicated that she was doing terribly. One began to cry. I felt grateful for honest answers! I really cared. I like to pray specifically for folks. The Lord used them as examples for me. I realized that there are people with whom it’s okay to cry and talk about my distress.

I still haven’t figured all this out but I want to be better at being honest. To not stuff emotions until a meltdown occurs. But to look at things in my life and take risks to share my burdens with others. I’m glad to do that for friends and I know there are folks who’d do the same for me!

I’ve begun to see true strength in a different light. I’m strongest when I’m transparent and honest with others and allow them inside my pain. To let some light in.

Bear one anothers burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:16

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “How to be Strong

  • May 20, 2017 at 8:29 pm
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    Thank you so much for sharing. I can relate to what you are going through. Being honest opens the door to more support, mutual encouragement and growth.

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  • May 21, 2017 at 12:13 am
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    This is raw, and real. I can totally relate.

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    • May 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm
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      Thank you for commenting Kim. Praying we’ll all have close friends/safe places where we can be honest and open. Miss you!

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  • May 21, 2017 at 12:46 am
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    I loved this post, Myra. Letting others see your transparency gives them the freedom to be transparent, too. We are all hurting inside, in some way. Thanks for sharing your hard story.

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    • May 21, 2017 at 9:46 pm
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      Thank you so much Lisa! I agree with your comments. I really want to be a safe place for others and to be a good listener. I think that’s a missing piece for a lot of us.

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  • May 21, 2017 at 2:11 am
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    Myra,
    Many of us can relate to the experiences you expressed so beautifully. I am one of those people who appear strong during times of grief and heartbreak because I know as women we have to “stay calm and carry on” for the family. However it is such a blessing to be able to share our feelings with friends we can trust and feel safe with. I appreciate those few close friends that can keep me in prayer and pray for me during critical times when I know I will not make it unless God comes through….and He always
    Thanks for the reminder that we need to let others help us bear our burdens. Blessings to you and prayers for your new adventure.

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    • May 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm
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      Thank you again Jane. For the prayers and encouragement. It’s so true that without God coming through in difficult times we wouldn’t make it! Thankful for Him and for those “few close friends”!

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  • May 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm
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    I can so relate Myra !!! I so appreciate you , and how you encourage so many people with your blog!! I am praying for you and Tom as you navigate through these changes in this season of your lives!!! Iam confident of this one thing “That He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day,” 2 Tim. 1:12 , I know you know this verse because as you mentioned in ur blog u had to work two jobs in the past , while raising two children . I so relate there as I did that as well so we had a lot of “that’s” to commit to The Lord and He was Ever Faithful to see us through, and our Children!! I often wonder how I could have made things easier for them as I have wondered how deeply they were wounded by the divorce , as I truly feel children are the broken pieces , but over the years I’ve learned , I can’t fix things that are broken! ( I couldn’t fix my brokenness ) But I -like you had to run to Father , so now even in rough times I Have to TRUST the Christ Alone will see me through, That “Trust” is so hard at times— and I have to be so intentional on a daily basis to Trust Him to work all things out for my good, even when I don’t see ” the good”!!! I love you Myra and you are Daily in my thoughts and prayers!!! I so want to walk through this with you and help shoulder ur feelings 🙂 Keep blogging you are Great!!!

    Reply

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