As I type this post, the day is almost at an end. I've just got back from dinner and the gym (not in that order), and I feel very, very tired. It has not been a good day, or week for that matter.
Let me start with the gym. Working out has become very taxing off late, not nearly the joy that it used to be a few years ago. My inability to stick to a routine and come regularly to the gym (because of work) has resulted in me losing all of the little muscle tone I had. I still go as often as I can, and it is a very humbling experience. I can no longer jog the same amount I used to as easily as before, nor can I lift the same weights I used to as easily. My body is noticeably weaker than it once was.
This brings me to my point - what is strength, really? Is emotional strength (or strength of character, or whatever you may choose to label it,) really something we can measure and quantify, or just a vague variable we assign ball-park measures to? What makes one person 'stronger' than the next?
I'm in my 27th year on this Earth, and I have to admit that ten years ago, I expected my 27 year old self to be in a better place, and to generally be 'better'. I always assumed I would have conquered my demons and elevated myself to the 'adult' plane, tackling 'adult' problems. Things like insurance, bank accounts, housing loans, taxes. Perhaps even a family.
Instead, I find myself in pretty much the same place I was a few years ago. I am still weak in the areas I was, still unable to deal with certain things, still unable to fix areas in my life that need fixing. Still struggling.
But of late, I'm starting to look at it differently. There is a difference between the person I am now, and the person I was back then. It's not that I'm stronger, or wiser. The only difference I see is that now, I know my weaknesses.
As I try to peer through the fog that seems to shroud my future, I find that I am not armed with many weapons to tackle the struggles I will inevitably come across. However, just like in basketball, sometimes a good offense is a strong defense. I know where I am weak, and my vulnerabilities. As much as I'd like to pretend I have thick skin now, my heart is still very much on my sleeve, and my emotions are far too close to the surface for comfort (a fact my discerning mother takes great pride in pointing out). Yet by acknowledging these weaknesses, I am better able to adjust to the inevitable hurt. If I'm to return to my gym analogy, by accepting that I am no longer as strong as I once was, I can in fact produce a more productive workout by lifting less, but lifting it correctly.
The next few weeks, and perhaps months, are going to be extremely difficult. The hurt that I will undoubtedly feel will be unbearable, and it will be, for the most part, constant. Things are going to get far worse before they get better.
Yet, perhaps God, in His infinite and often indiscernible ways, has brought me through so much so that now, while I may not be the strong, stable, immovable rock I once envisioned I would be, I am finally fully aware of who I am as a person - the positives and negatives.
I am reminded of a passage from the New Testament where the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians mentions a weakness in him that has bothered him for a long time like 'a thorn in the flesh', and how he had asked God many times to take it away from him. Paul never mentions what it is that he is struggling with, but God answers him and says "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
As I read this passage, I try to claim it for my life, and I tell myself that while I am not strong enough to deal with the pain, the hurt and the struggles I will go through in the future, I can rest assured that I will bear witness to God's strength in my many areas of weakness.
Perhaps, sometimes, strength is a measure of your ability to admit your weaknesses.