Have you ever watched a tree withstand a strong thunderstorm? The branches quiver, the leaves flap backwards in the wind, and the top sways from side-to-side. As lightening flashes and thunderclaps sound, the tree trembles and roils in the downpour of heavy rain. However, when the thunder ceases and the clouds roll away, the tree still stands. Yes, there may be some vulnerable places of stripped bark; some branches may be missing; and a smattering of leaves may rest on the ground below; but the tree still stands.
Nature often offers hints to the principles of living, as nature is itself alive. When we consider a tree that outlasts a storm, we often credit the roots for its survival. Solid wood, thick roots and an unmovable trunk are the key features that make up the essence of a tree. Planted deeply and firmly in the ground, a tree is are tree because of its roots and does not move from where it at first blooms. By withstanding a storm, a tree is merely living up to expectations.
You, like a tree, have amazing features, an essence that defines who you are and all of your capabilities. Though you may not always feel it, or fully understand it, it is in your nature to be strong. Consider all that you have been through – and you are still here! You are strong. Just as a tree was meant to last through storms, so have you been designed to withstand the elements, to stay upright, to remain rooted and grounded where you’ve been planted. You are stronger than you think. Yes, there may be some vulnerable spots where your bark has been stripped down; there may be some missing branches and torn leaves during the changing seasons of your life; but like a tree that can weather the harshest storm, you, by nature, have been created to be strong.
What keeps our strength from showing? What convinces us that we are weak? Our misconceptions can come from two places: external influences and internal lies. Challenging circumstances are the external elements. The storms we face in life that we cannot control can be excessively harsh and capable of wearing us down. Whether these downpours are initiated by so-called loved ones, workplace issues, health concerns, or economic conditions, we can find ourselves feeling battered and weak and left with poor esteem, dashed hopes, and brokenness. However, strength is only strength when it is tried. The darkest situation presents the opportunity for light to shine. Even a single lit match can remove the blackness from a room, proving that a simple show of strength, however slight, is still enough to overpower a storm. Don’t let the elements fool you. You are still strong.
Internal lies try to convince us that we are weak. Listen to your self-talk. Is your mind focused on messages of defeat and compromise? Are you continually convincing yourself that you do not matter, that you are not worthy, that you have no place or right to be who you are? You are strong. Tell yourself that and believe it. If you don’t think you are strong, ask yourself why you think that you are not. Where did the idea that you are weak come from? Is that belief really true? Why are you holding on to it? What truth about yourself, about your strength, can you now believe?
Don’t be afraid to assert your strength. It is okay to do so. Know that strength does not have to growl or roar, beat or batter. Consider again a tree. It makes no sound by itself. It remains quiet unless the elements dictate otherwise. It stands steady and still when at peace. Like a tree, exist in your strength. Recognize when to make noise and when to bend with the breeze, but don’t be easily moved. You are strong.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please contact The Stone Foundation by clicking here, or by phone at 410-296-2004.
Leslie J. Sherrod, MSW, LGSW, is an outreach social worker at a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She also has experience providing psychotherapy to children, teens, adults, and families. She is the author of several inspirational novels, including Without Faith, Losing Hope, Secret Place, and Like Sheep Gone Astray. Visit her website at www.LeslieJSherrod.com for more information.
Facebook: Leslie J. Sherrod; Twitter: @lesliejsherrod