We sang a song in choir the other day that had this verse, “We move from strength to strength…” It was running through my head this morning, and I thought of my grandparents. They have always been pillars of strength and my examples to follow in life. As a mom, these examples have helped me to be a better mom, a better wife, and, in general, just a better person.
My grandfather was a “man’s man,” nothing ever seemed impossible to him. He grew up poor, was ridiculed and pushed himself to success. He founded his own heating and air business, was county commissioner of his small town, retired at a young age and lived out his days enjoying life and traveling with his wife to see kids, grandkids and sights all over the US.
My grandmother was born in the first year of the depression to a commercial fisherman and his wife. She had 3 sisters, and they didn’t have much, but they had each other and their faith. They found that was all they needed. To our family, and to many, my grandfather was always seen as a pillar of strength, and my grandmother has been the epitome of grace; no matter what comes in life, she seems to handle it with grace and dignity. Even before my earliest memories, these two have been a big part of my life; so, it comes as no surprise that a lot of their ways have become mine. Many people say I take after my grandmother, and my husband seems to be fashioned from much of the same mold as my grandfather. One of the biggest things they both taught me over the years was strength and grace.
I believe we can only move from strength to strength when we live by grace. Trying to move from strength to strength, without grace for the moments in between, is like trying to move a sailboat without the wind. You can definitely move it, with oars, of course, but it sure does take a lot more work than if you had wind to move it across the sea. The wind is what brings speed for the vessel and “rest” for the captain. When the wind is pushing the sails, the captain still has some work to do, but it sure makes for an easier time of sailing!
This is how it should be with our lives. We can be men and women of strength, but if we don’t have grace, we’re always struggling with the weight of our task. When we have no grace, we may be irritable, grouchy or even down right mean when it comes to dealing with others who get in our way or those who want to “jump on” for the ride. Grace refreshes our weary souls. It gives us compassion for others who may be on the same path. Grace brings joy in the midst of the trial, and it gives us perseverance for the journey.
Ladies (and men, too, actually), can I challenge you today? Live your days from strength to strength, robed not in your own will power and force but rather, robed in grace which softens you around the edges. Let that grace cocoon your strength to allow it to become a pillar of hope to others along the way, a refuge which brings refreshment to yourself and other “travelers,” and a solid foundation that helps you persevere through whatever life brings to you. When you live through the ups and downs of life with dignity and grace, you leave a legacy that others long to follow.
If I could, I’d like to encourage you in this, as well: don’t live your life from crisis to crisis. It’s so unbecoming. It’s so unsettling, and frankly, it can even be obnoxious! 😉 This doesn’t mean you have to be stoic all the time, never crying or showing emotion, but when you live from one panicked moment to the next, it is exhausting to you and everyone around you. No one knows how to receive you from one day to the next, and you leave a river of chaos for your children to swim through. However, when there’s a peace inside that can’t be shaken, it gives you stability even through the darkest storms, and it will actually draw others to you. They learn from your strength; they gain the courage to face their own fears and trials, and they even learn how to become a symbol of stability for someone else who may be facing the same situations.
I have definitely found this to be true with my children. When I am calm and graceful through the trials of life, my children are better equipped to handle the hard places in which they sometimes find themselves. It doesn’t mean that I never show fear, or tears, or even that I am always stone-faced without any emotion. (Anyone who is close to me knows I probably shed way more than my share of tears! – both happy and not so happy ones) I am definitely a woman of emotion; however, I also don’t rely on my own strength to carry me through the rough spots. My kids know that my faith rests in my God who will carry me through. They know that when we rely on His grace for our strength everyday, the end result of our emotional well being and the well being of our entire household is a lot better off! I’m hoping they take these lessons with them for life.
The picture I have in my mind, of this kind of strength, is being in a storm shelter with your daddy, granddad, or husband , someone whom you feel is invincible and “can never die.” It may not be the grandest of circumstances, and you definitely would rather be somewhere else in that moment, but you rest in the knowing that no matter what comes on the outside of that shelter, you’re gonna make it, and everything’s going to be alright! You know that no matter what winds come against that door, that man will hold you till your body stops trembling and you are able to stand on your own two feet, and when you’re unable to stand, he will put his arms around you, or even pick you up and carry you until you can.
That’s the picture of strength I’m trying to give you! That’s the kind of strength we need to have. This is what we must pass to our children so they might survive in this crazy world. We must let it flow to those around us so that they might be able to stand and comfort when others cannot.