My title may sound like an oxymoron, and depending on how it’s interpreted, it may be. If I added a few more words to the title, it becomes 100% truth. But as I’m reading it, knowing where I’m going with this writing, it already is truth, 100%.

My husband and I have a wedding anniversary coming up in a few weeks. We’ve decided to take a Caribbean trip to celebrate. I’m beginning to pack and make final plans in preparation, so yesterday I got a pedicure/manicure. Relaxing in the chair while soaking my feet, I had picked out a color that was cheerful, bright, and beachy. My nail tech looked at the color rather perplexed. “I’m leaving for warmer weather in a few days, and wanted something more Summery.” I quickly and excitedly responded. So we began to talk about my plans. “Anything to get away from this cold weather. It’s depressing!” I added.

Sitting next to me, a woman began talking to her tech and asked for her nails to be taken off. She was going into the hospital in the next few days and couldn’t have her nails done. They began a more serious conversation and I couldn’t help but overhear. She is traveling to MD Anderson to begin chemo. She has cancer. My heart, sunk. The contrast between she and I was almost awkward. I felt guilt. I felt pity and sorrow. My beachy high, also sunk. The room got dark. “How dare I!!” I thought. As I sat there, I had a silent conversation with God. I felt incredibly blessed and thankful, yet completely unworthy and humbled. I tried to filter and organize all the thoughts running through my head; scrambling to make sense of the highs and lows. My mood changed like an earthquake on an ocean floor, and my calm sea suddenly was turbulent and overwhelming.

A few quiet minutes went by, and I began to talk with the woman. I asked her when she was leaving, and who was taking her. I could barely compose my voice because I was fighting back tears. I asked her name, and if it would be ok to pray for her. She asked where I lived, and we started talking about where we grew up. She mentioned she was from the Ardmore area…”so was I”, I said. I told her who my family was, and what my dad did when he was healthy. “Oh!” She said. “Then you must know the ______ Family!” Me: “Yes! They are my cousins!” She went on to tell me that her niece just got engaged to a particular boy. “That’s my cousins son!” I said. Completely blown away, I immediately felt as if she was my family, too. In my mind I’m thinking, “God!” Yes, we are indeed family. This is not happenstance.

Last night as I was thinking about that woman, I was amazed at the genuine inner strength she must possess. She was poised and classy. She was beautiful. She held her head high and ready for battle. Her eyes reflected wisdom and integrity. Maybe she’s been through this before. I didn’t ask, but nevertheless, her demeanor radiated confidence and assurance. I was impacted and inspired deeply by her. Her body may be weak, but there was something inside that only exuded strength.

Her story captivated me, even after our meeting.

True strength isn’t something we do or get on our own. It’s not picking up a barbell, or meeting a NPB (new personal best). It isn’t our physique or our weight. It doesn’t come in a powder or in a can of spinach. It isn’t a reflection in a mirror, or a college degree. It’s in here…the heart. It’s confidence in our Creator. It’s leaning on our Healer, our Great Physician. Its knowing Who has you. It’s the power in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the Living Word, the Bible. It’s the Holy Spirit, that lives in us. True strength doesn’t boast in self and it’s abilities and accomplishments. It doesn’t seek personal power or authority. It doesn’t scream, “I am better and stronger than you.” Our weaknesses become strong when we boast in the Lord!

So I encourage each of you today, remember where and Whom your strength is from. Don’t let it be a facade; one strong storm will blow it down. Be rooted in Him so when the storm does hit, even though you may lose a few branches and leaves, you will be strong to withstand and flourish again. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Amen. And that is wonderful news, friends!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

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