Finding Your Inner Strength

These last couple years have been challenging ones. My illnesses and hospitalizations took their toll. My recovery was even more so, demanding so much more from me than I thought I had to give.

Yet somehow I found a way, even when I didn't have the strength to go on.

My therapist called it inner strength. Many times he talked to me about it, serving as witness in those moments where I somehow marshaled the will and determination to continue on when I had long since exhausted my limited strength and energy reserves.

It wasn't physical. I don't think it was anything mental, either. I'd been beaten up pretty badly and had absolutely no ability to do for myself. Still intubated after my release, I couldn't walk, talk, eat, or even roll over in bed. I was so emaciated I couldn't even pull up my leg into a bent-knee position. Wiggling my toes was the best I could do for a long while.

It was a sad state of affairs. But somewhere deep inside there was a part of me that knew I could get better and wouldn't give up. This is where I think my inner strength came from -- bringing with it not just determination, but actually muscular strength and energy to try again.

I think this source of inner strength is within each of us, but to access it first we must give our all to whatever life puts before us. For it doesn't rear its head until things are bleakest and we're ready to give up.

But then, something inside us says no, that we've got to find a way. And so we try again, despite overwhelming frustration and exhaustion. And then, magically appearing out of nowhere, that inner strength kicks in and gives us a second wind.

Could this inner strength be a character trait of our personalities, that some have and others don't? Perhaps. But being one who believes in an inner source of life that can fill us with inspiration and knowing, it's not such a big jump to believe it also provides us with whatever else we need to get the experiences we came for -- including the strength to go on despite the odds or adversity before us. And that's something within us all.

Yet even knowing of the possibility, there's still the little matter of how to draw on it when needed most. After all, if it's waiting for us to do our part here first, how will we know when we've done all we can do?

I suppose I could say it was when we get to the end of our rope. But frustration wasn't what I was feeling in those moments of pain and absolute exhaustion. It was more that my desire to walk again was so great that I just wouldn't let myself quit, no matter how much my body was screaming for me to do so.

It was a moment when I had focus and determination to participate in life the way I used to -- by walking and talking and doing all the things I used to do without thought or effort. And as I like to think, my soul felt the same way and filled me with the very strength I was lacking to sit or stand for even another moment.

We all suffer adversity. Life throws us curves. And sometimes fastballs aimed at our heads. We all reach the end of our ropes, too, when we don't know how to go on, much less what to do.

It is in these moments that we have to dig deep, to put our all into the effort to deal with the situation at hand. But when that's not enough -- you'll know when, because you'll hit the wall and won't be able to give anything more -- know that the strength is there inside, hiding in the shadows, waiting to be called forth in your hour of need.

Trust that it's there. Learn to draw on it every chance you get. Exercise your inner muscles just as much as your outer ones.

God willing, you will never have to suffer as I did, or go through what I had to. But if you do, know that you can get through it, too, if you refuse to give up.

The strength inside you is far greater than what you know.

God bless you indeed. I am

- john