This morning at my *frozen* yoga class (you try doing shavasana in like 50 degrees, covering your body with every available layer!), while in the midst of Warrior 2, my teacher said, "Wow! We have a room full of warriors!"
My mind started wandering out of my pose. What does it mean to be strong?
A year ago this weekend I had a particular conversation with a dear loved one which sort of changed the whole direction of my life. As I reflect on that conversation and on the subsequent year, I am flooded with memories of extreme emotions.
But in a very strange underlying vein, I am also reminded me of what it means to be strong. I certainly haven't felt very strong. But I've realized the need to reorient myself--to redefine. Now I can say that strength comes from recognizing a weakness and building it up. I trained for a marathon this year, and I re-learned the importance of discipline, of constant exercise, of pushing and fueling and resting appropriately. Sometimes the lesson comes in learning that appropriateness. I certainly didn't PR on this marathon--I felt tired and slow and my stomach didn't take too well to my energy gel. But I finished, and I was strong.
I also took my oral exams. I realized there was a LOT about American history that I didn't know. So I made a plan and tackled my weak areas--and bolstered my strengths. The exercise required mental and emotional energy and focus. I certainly didn't answer every question exactly correctly, but it was sufficient. I was strong.
I think my deepest source of strength, however, came from completely outside of myself. Sure, I can study and run and I can work through tough issues. I can do hard things. But in all reality, so much of this is beyond me. Yet it is in my very weakness that I recognize my need and my need to draw upon a true source of strength. And suddenly I realize that it is actually my weakness--my vulnerability--that I become strong. And that kind of exercise requires mental and emotional energy and focus. Mostly faith. And mostly turning things over to a higher source, making His strength mine. That's what I think being strong is. Doing all that I can in my own power, then letting go. Releasing. Watching the Lord reveal His mighty arm.
I love the Chinese terracotta warriors. Ever since I learned about them in an Asian humanities class at BYU, I have wanted to see them. I am amazed at their endurance. I love their firmness, their constancy. They are completely vulnerable to erosion and weather. Some of them have been worn smooth. Their rough places are softer after all these years. And yet they endure. They continue. Their presence whispers of strength.
Now I'd rather be a lover than a warrior (after all, Virginia is for lovers!), but sometimes I think we have our own battle grounds to conquer. And I think sometimes it takes a battle of strength to learn how to forgive and to suffer long and be kind and not easily provoked, not puffed up and endure long and well. But mostly it takes that sense of weakness and reliance upon a much mightier form of strength. Exposure and vulnerability and patience. It then becomes ours.