Strength from Our Struggles

When you first think about that statement, it seems crazy.  But when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Weightlifters have to struggle through resistance to gain strength.  Kids have to struggle through falling off their bikes to gain the strength to get back on and try again.

Sometimes, facing our fears and weaknesses can become not only our biggest strength but a great testimony.

I’ve been through a LOT in my life.  A LOT.  A lot of struggles.  A lot of pain.  A lot of junk that I remember thinking “WHY ME?!”  And in the midst of those struggles, I used to hear from people “Someday, you will be able to use this to help someone else.”  **Cue the eye roll and whiny voice**  ” But whyyyyyy do I have to go through it at ALLLL?!”

temper tantrum

It’s a great sentiment to tell people that their struggles will be someone else’s strength some day.  I guess I just didn’t really stop to think about how it could actually be MY strength too.

I’ve been able to speak with young women who are in abusive relationships.  I’ve been able to talk to young women who struggle with being let down by someone who they’d placed on a pedestal.  I’ve been able to talk to women who are battling with the emotions that come with empty arms.

I’m still affected by all of those things.  Some days, it feels like the blind leading the blind.  But other days…  Oh, other days it feels like all the pain and tears and struggling were worth it just to feel that connection with someone who needed to not just hear the words “I know how you feel” but needed to actually FEEL that I know how they feel.

Tonight, I was sent a link to a sermon by an old friend of mine.  It’s from Elevation Church and a series called “How to be Brave”.  The one I listened to tonight was called “See It Through” and in it he says:

“What if God wants to show you your purpose, but He wants you to see it through your pain?”

Maybe I’m starting to see my purpose through my pain.

Do I still wish that I didn’t have to struggle?  Sure.  Do I still wish that God would lighten up with the trials already?  Of course.  Do I still wish that I didn’t have to feel the pain?  Absolutely.

But I am grateful for them.  My past has helped me create my present. 

If I’d not dealt with a LOT of the things I dealt with all those years ago, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now.  If I’d not dealt with cowering from a raised hand, I wouldn’t have learned how to defend myself.  If I’d not dealt with constant comparisons, I wouldn’t have learned how to place more worth in my opinion of myself.  If I’d not dealt with the pain of knowing what empty arms feel like, I may never have appreciated how the crook of my elbow might be the perfect pillow.

We grow through our pain.  We gain strength in our struggles.  We gain faith through fear.  And God knew that we would before we even dipped our toes in the pool of uncertainty.

Even now, J and I are facing a situation that we may be able to use to help others further down the road.  Oh, how I wish we weren’t facing it.  How I wish we knew what the outcome would be.  How I wish it didn’t hurt so much.

But oh, how it’s making us stronger.  How it’s making us dig in, dig deep and hold tightly.  To each other and to our faith.

Oh, how we are gaining strength from our struggle.

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Fear, Meet Hope.

I follow quite a few blogs on here.  Honest moment:  I, sadly, don’t always get the chance to read every single blog that comes across my feed.  Even more honest moment:  I sometimes skip past some intentionally. *gasp*  I know, I know.  That’s terrible of me.  Let me explain.  This journey is HARD.  I’ve not been on it as long as most of the blogs that I follow or even as long as some of the friends I know personally.  But pregnancy announcements turn me into this bitter, judgmental person that I would just rather not deal with.  So, sometimes, SOMETIMES I skip past those.  But then…  I sit and wonder “what does it feel like?”  “how did they know?”  “what are their dr’s saying?”  And I go back and read them.

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In the last couple weeks, however, I’ve realized another reason why I skip past them.  It’s another four letter word.  FEAR.  Fear that I will never get to experience ‘those’ feelings.  Fear that I will never be able to give my husband a piece of him and I.  Fear that I’ll never again see that second pink line, or that I’ll never see an ultrasound with a tiny, little life playing the starring role.  And then, as I log in to read those happy announcements, it becomes something different.  Sad retractions of pain and heartache.  Another angel given their wings too soon.  Fear turns inward once again.  Fear that I may never again be able to carry a child.  Fear that I’ll hear those words from my OB again.  Fear that I’ll have to tell my husband and those close to me of a loss.  Fear that I’ll never get to tell our child about how much our Heavenly Father loves them.  And my heart breaks.

dear Lord

As selfish and ‘me, me, me’ as it all sounds, my heart also breaks for each of those beautiful, deserving women.  Women that go without in order to touch their dreams, even if only for a moment.  Women that sacrifice small pleasures for a chance at eternal happiness.  Women that battle heartache and pain, and then dust themselves off to do it all over again.  And I only hope that one day I will be worthy of being in that category.

Conversations in this house are funny.  Usually, it’s one of us trying to find a new, fun way to irritate the other.  Some days, there’s not much talking.  Some days there’s TOO much talking.  Some days there’s crying.  And other days I cry.  Just kidding, I never cry.  Ok, maybe once or twice.  Some days we yell, and other days we get to the heart of an issue and are able to talk about it lovingly and with great understanding.  Today was one of those days.  I’ve packed on some serious pounds in the last year or so with all the hormones.  I’ve said it before, I HATE what I see when I look in the mirror.  For some odd reason, my husband still thinks I’m beautiful.  And not just a shut-up-I-think-you-look-fine kinda beautiful as I complain about the fact that yoga pants are my wardrobe anymore.  But an I-just-want-to-touch-you-when-I’m-near-you kinda beautiful.  I contribute it to the fact that we paid money for glasses that he never wears.  But there is something to be said for a man who loves a woman that much.  And for a woman that doesn’t appreciate it.  Glad I’m not her!

Fear has really become a big part of my life lately.  I pretty much hate it.  But I always live through it.  I’ve been terrified of this month.  Heck, we are only 6 days into it, so I’m still a little scared.  I’m afraid of what will happen.  I’m afraid of what won’t happen.  Sometimes, I don’t trust God enough.  I just give him the crumbs after I’m done chewing my problems for a while.  And then, even through the hardest, darkest, most broken moments, He reminds me that He is there.  And He is capable.  New Years Day I was pretty sick.  Pneumonia hit me pretty hard.  I’d spent most of the day and the day before in bed sleeping.  I decided that I’d had enough and that we were going to J’s parent’s house for dinner to spend the last little bit of time with family that was in from out-of-town.  And as we left, the sky was just AH-MAY-ZING!!  I’m talking gorgeous, breath-taking, color changing amazing!!  Here I am, afraid of January and God is reminding me that He’s still in charge.  He showed me in a BIG way!

Sunset on Taylorsville Lake (captured by me)

Sunset on Taylorsville Lake (captured by me)

So many people talk about one word that they make their ‘word’ for the new year.  I won’t choose just one word, because there really is no one word that can define the mess that is me.  However, there is one word that every woman on the TTC journey can closely identify with.  It’s another four letter word.  HOPE.  I’ll take that over fear any day of the week.

fear meet hope