Friday, July 11, 2008

Tough is for the Weak

There's a lesson I seem to be constantly re-teaching myself: being tough and being strong are two completely different things.

Years ago I had an employer who really enjoyed dispensing wisdom on anyone who would listen. Being in this person's employ pretty much meant I was a captive audience.

At the time I was still using my "tough it out" method of getting better. It's that whole mentality of people who walk around coughing and sneezing while declaring to everyone that they don't get sick. It's mind over matter. They're tougher than all that illness crap. Well, I was quite certain I was tougher than all this pain nonsense, too.

I wouldn't just go to work; I would stay until I could barely walk out of the place. I would be walking down the hall at the end of the night, holding onto the wall to brace myself as I limped along... determined that I could just push through it. Sooner or later my body would catch up to the idea my mind had placed before it: You'll be strong or die trying.

It didn't help that my employer enjoyed telling me that everything in life is mind over matter. You just have to decide to be well. You decide to never get sick. You decide to not have pain. You decide to be successful. If you decide something and tough it out it will happen... and if it doesn't it's because somewhere inside you weren't really committed to it. The straw that finally broke my back (if you forgive the appropriate expression) is when it was declared one evening after seeing me walk out of my office limping that if I had enough faith I would already be healed.

Which goes to prove that working for a church-going individual doesn't mean you'll be working in a positive environment.

But I have to tell you, I owe a lot to this employer. Everyone is truly put in your life for a reason because it was in that exact moment when I decided what I didn't believe. I didn't believe God was sitting somewhere waiting to see if I really wanted to be well... if I would jump through enough hoops to prove myself to Him. And I didn't believe that it was all in my power. I realized He was waiting for me to give it up and put it in His hands. And that, people, requires strength.

I have forgotten that and re-learned it many times. The most recent being this past week. I have been trying so freaking hard to be tough. I have been so weak and sick at moments that I really thought the ground would open up and swallow me whole... and I'll be damned if I was going to lay down and let it happen. I was so agitated by it I'd pace around my condo (which, if you could see me walk would be using the term loosely) or try a different medicine or eat a different food or throw my dog a toy; anything but lay down and let it take over. I had a lung reaction weeks ago when sitting outside, but by God I went out again when my breathing got a little better to see if I had somehow gotten tougher in the last week. One guess as to how that turned out.

And then I had enough strength inside me to just lay down. I let it take over. And dear God, I was tired. And I still get dizzy and nauseous and weak, but wouldn't you know it - when I have the strength to let myself lay down and be weak, I get a little stronger. It doesn't last, but it's given me precious moments of stability.

I just had to stop being tough and start being strong. Strong enough to live the life I'm given instead of the one I think I'm tough enough to make. I didn't live my life back when I had a job and activities. I pushed through my life trying to get to one that didn't exist. I was being tough back then, but there is a strength in letting go that I wouldn't trade. No matter how many times I have to re-learn the lesson.


  1. You are the strongest person that I know, Sara.

    On a similar note, I've also learned that strength comes in living the truth, authentically, and honestly. You are a person of strength and this shows in your writing. It seems that so often those that preach the "being tough" version of strength are really just denying the truth of their existence. There is no strength in that. It takes real strength to live the truth, no matter how painful, scandalizing, or disappointing our lived truth might be to others or to ourselves.

    Throw that pup a cheerio! :P

  2. hey! i stumbled on your site from pioneer woman :) i LOVE your dog! super cute! great post. i think all of us have experience this in life!

  3. Hi honey! I noticed you writing posts to Angie and friends. I am enjoying your blog very much. I don't know much about doing this..such as, do you go back somehow to earlier postings and read comments that are added from time to time? (Duh??) I wanted to comment about the "high water/flood" look of your nifty new bamboo curtain. Can you make it hang closer to the floor by lowering the gizmo at the top (the wooden(?) frame? I am if you want to answer me...You and your dog are so full of life! :) (This silly thing keeps telling me my password is inaccurate which is nuts so I will try this as "anonymous!"

  4. hi
    i followed a link from pioneer woman. and i am quite certain that i shall be reading your blog life regularly.
    i hope you don't mind a mostly silent lurker reading your writings.
    feel free to check me out on my xanga site, if you are at all concerned.

  5. Hey there Sara. I am another reader that stumbled across your blog for PW's site. I don't really have anything amazing to say at all, but your writing moved me so that I couldn't pass by without writing something! You really have an amazing talent with words and I really took alot from what you said. Thank you for sharing. : )

  6. Sara,
    I stumbled upon your blog via Bring the Rain. I have really enjoyed browsing around and 'getting to know you'. My mom also suffers from a rare disease that is an unknown to us. She started to get it when she was in her late 30's. They don't know much about it yet. It's classified in between a cancer/auto immune disease. Anyway, I can relate through her, to your pain. It is heartbreaking. I am going to refer her to your blog. I think that it will encourage her, especially your message about strength. You certainly have it! HUGS

  7. Sara thank you so much for linking me to this post. I copied the last two paragraphs and saved them. You are SO right. This is the lesson that I have so much trouble with.