Just recently I saw a poster that said “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. I thought about that. At first blush it made sense. After all we all have challenges in life. We have experiences that we would rather not have. Most of us have experienced some type of trauma. And often times we learn from these experiences, we grow, we do become stronger. But not always.
I know that not all life events that don’t kill us make us stronger. Some events, some experiences, some trauma will test the very core of our strength and will leave us weakened. Granted, all of us have different tolerance levels for handling stress and adversity. And when we get knee-capped by something that weakens us we must find ways to recover and heal. That becomes the true test.
I chatted with an elderly lady this week who has shown amazing strength and resilience through adversity and pain. As we addressed her latest challenge I made a comment about that strength. She looked at me with a weary gaze and said she was getting tired of being strong. Ongoing challenges, pain, and frustration had left her tired.
So whether we experience something that leaves us vulnerable or whether ongoing adversity leaves us weary the challenge is to be aware. Be aware of changes to your body, to your mind and to your emotions. Be aware when life is challenging you. Recognize the symptoms. As I have said before there is hope and there I relief. I read a poem this week which encouraged me. Hopefully it can encourage you as well. Make it a good one.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit –
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
John Greenleaf Whittier*
*John Greenleaf Whittier was an advocate for the abolition of slavery in the 1800 who had his own journey with mental illness.