Strength is a word that’s fallen out of use these days. We don’t talk much about it except in the context of physical strength.
But there’s a much deeper dimension to the word: inner strength.
Inner strength is the ability to endure life’s ups and downs, to move through the hard times, and come out a victor, as someone who has the stamina to discover their own strength in the midst of their trials and eventually come to a place of understanding the wisdom the challenge was revealing to our hearts.
Inner strength is the realization that we are stronger—emotionally, physically, and spiritually—than we imagined. Inner strength is the healing that comes from our wounds. It’s the salve of compassion and understanding rooted in acceptance that allows us to realize we would not be who we are unless we had endured the trials life has put us through.
Inner strength comes from the journey toward discovering your True Self—the I Am, the God-self, and allowing your false self—your ego—to be loved and integrated into Wholeness.
When I was 16, I lost my father to lung cancer. He was 56. His cancer was nasty. The six months he endured and fought the disease until it finally took his life struck my dad down from a 210-pound strapping 6’2 man, to a rolled-up ball of 140 pounds of flesh lying on the couch, wheezing with pain, trying to endure the side effects from his chemotherapy and radiation.
The experience of his death and my life’s journey growing up without a dad was a blur to me. I simply pushed through it, did what I had to do to face life. But there was always a vague sense that someone, something was leading me, tending me, guiding and protecting me, even if I didn’t know who or what.
After my father’s death, I went on an unconscious search to find a substitute father. I longed for someone to protect me, affirm me, teach and guide me like I know my dad would have done had he been alive. But I came to realize that person I was looking for was me—me and an awesome God who loves us and guides us in the midst of life’s journey.
They say we live life forward, but experience it backwards as we take time to reflect upon how and why certain things happened in our life. Life’s events then become guideposts that lead us deeper on our inner journey.
As I look back, I’ve come to realize that my father’s death was designed to teach me two things: first, there’s an Irish rebel in me that can face life regardless of what it throws at me; and second, my inner strength comes from an ever-deepening relationship with a God who has always walked alongside me as my Divine Father, a God who is love, and who is helping me understand my true identity as his Beloved Son.
Life is going to throw curve balls at us. None of us is exempt from suffering. But, suffering can become our teacher, if we let it.
We have two basic choices when we experience suffering: we can rail against it, raise our angry fist to the sky and demand it shouldn’t happen; or we can embrace our suffering, allow it to be the source of inner strength and wisdom that is guiding us home—home to that place within us, that place in our heart where we eventually realize we are safe, we are strong, and that once we get past the anger, unconditional love for ourselves and the world is the fruit of suffering.
I don’t fully understand why suffering has to be part of the human journey. But, I don’t blame God for it anymore. After allowing myself to experience and move past the anger, (which is a necessary part of the healing process), I’ve come to realize that instead of being a mean old nasty God who threw crap on my life, he’s the one that lovingly walked alongside me in the midst of the pain. In fact, perhaps he’s the remedy for our pain.
Me and God; you and God, that’s the source of our inner strength. That’s the wisdom life is trying to teach us as we experience suffering: you and God are a dynamic team, co-creators. The Creator is a beacon of light and hope that has and will continue to always be there for you, no matter what life tosses onto your path.
You are safe.
You are stronger than you imagined.
Open your heart and know his Presence dwells within you.
Discover the wisdom suffering is trying to teach you,
and it will become the source of your inner strength.
—brian j plachta
In this fast-paced, often overwhelming world, it’s important to develop life-giving practices that teach us how to slow down and care for ourselves. Taking time to focus on our breath—both during quiet times of meditation and throughout the day—restores our balance and inner peace.