NEW CASTLE —
Just exactly how strong are you?
I write this blog this week in honor of not one, but two of my amazing friends who are going through things the horror of which most of us can only imagine. I've been thinking about these women constantly, my heart heavy with the sorrow I wish I could take from them, and my spirit frustrated by the knowledge that I can't.
But between the tears that occasionally escape unbidden when I don't even realize I'm thinking about one of them again, I have an insight that I realize makes me a sister to these women through the hardships we've suffered: These friends have more inner strength than anyone I know.
This fact is what will get them both through their current suffering, and that is a miraculous thing. But it is also the thing that will, in ways, make their struggle just a little bit harder.
Strong women are usually just that because of the difficulties they've already endured in life. I'm sure there are a few who are born with this innate tendency, and a few more who were lucky enough to have been raised to be strong women. But most of us? We come to it through trial by fire.
We've learned our strength through weakness, and the vulnerability that comes with being hurt. We've been in a place at one time that we swore we'd never go back to again, and we began to grow the tough skin and the unyielding exterior that would keep us safe in the future. But the walls we so meticulously build always come with a price.
You see us as strong, and have no doubt, we certainly are. But you see us in ways that we are not, as well. We intimidate you, and you keep your distance. We seem as if we don't need your help, so you don't offer it. We may seem at times arrogant because we have only small circles of close friends, but it's because while we can bear all the strife there is in the world, we will only do so for those who never demand that we should.
We are not afraid to use our voice, or to cry, or to forgive. But we know as well when to be silent, when to put on a brave face, and when to walk away. We're passionate, and because of that we can hate, but it's usually only because we had at one time loved too deeply.
Don't mistake our strength for toughness. We're not perfect, and we know that, even if we seem as solid as cast iron. Those who really love us know enough to admire our strength, but also to realize that we have times when everything scares us, everything feels as if it might be our breaking point — and those who know this will hold us as if we are as fragile as delicate glass.
It takes a strong person — man, woman, or child — to love a strong woman. You are a lucky person to love a strong woman. You are luckier still to be loved by one.
To my friends who inspired this column today: I know that you will not only be OK, you will come through this stronger than before. It's little consolation now, but the trials you are enduring today will become the stories of triumph over tragedy that another woman seeking strength will need to hear.
The world needs us. And sure as God's in heaven, we'll be there.
“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.” — Napoleon Hill
NEW CASTLE —
Just exactly how strong are you?
- Lisa Madras
Lisa Madras: I’ve still got plenty of questions, but now I have family to help answer them
What’s something new you’ve recently learned about yourself? Oh, happy day. I've been waiting my whole life to have a great answer to this question, and now that I finally do. I can hardly believe it myself.
Lisa Madras: I’m kickin’ it old school — and trying to get a leg up
What lessons did you NOT learn in the classroom? Several weeks ago, I found myself stumbling around outside of my comfort zone. I'd gone to a college campus to begin working on a new degree and new direction for my life. And boy did I feel like a square peg.
Lisa Madras: Don’t like me? Don’t need you around, either
What have you lost interest in recently? It seems as if I lose interest in more and more things as I get older. It might seem a frightening thought at first, but really, how many trivial pursuits do we cling to that we eventually just outgrow?
Lisa Madras: Don’t waste your life — it’s a precious gift that’s far too short
When did you first realize that life is short? I'm sure I don't need to remind you of last week's tragedy at the Boston Marathon. The images of that horrific event have taken their place in our souls right next to those of 9/11, the Sandy Hook shooting and every other devastating event in recent history.
Lisa Madras: Longing for a do-over? Like scissors, it’s in your hands
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? My kids ask me all the time if I like being a grown-up. I tell them that it has its upsides and downsides, but always think to myself, "My gosh, what I wouldn't give to be a kid again and start all over."
Lisa Madras: Want a brighter future? Stop living in the past
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? I've hemmed and hawed over this question about a gazillion times, always pushing it to the bottom of my list because I could never settle on one definitive answer.
Lisa Madras: Forget the law, let’s break the entire system!
What makes you angry? Oh boy, is this a loaded question for me! Where do I start, and how long are you willing to read before you nod off from the sheer exhaustion of trying to finish my list?
Lisa Madras: What’s your special gift? Share it, don’t hide it!
What makes you so special? It cracks me up to hear this question, because when it's generally asked, there's more than a bit of snark involved.
Lisa Madras: You know what burns me up? A passion!
What gives your life meaning? On the surface, it's tempting to list all the obvious things: your family, your job, your volunteer work. These things all give our lives meaning, but deep down inside each of us there's a burning.
Lisa Madras: I made it to my year of catharsis, and you will, too
How would you describe the past year of your life in one sentence? "The past year of my life has been cathartic." That's my easy one-sentence summary. I've been waiting to say that for such a long time. And boy, does it feel good.
- More Lisa Madras Headlines
- Lisa Madras: I’ve still got plenty of questions, but now I have family to help answer them