Where’s the line between strength and weakness? What does that look like? How do we make each component work together to be in sync with one another?
This last weekend I found myself immersed in Titanic – the movie. How do you ignore its presence ready and available at your fingertips on Netflix? You don’t.
I have never been overly expressive with this movie. Yes, I would predictably cry when jack died but this experience was different. Emotion welled up in me this time in the strangest of moments. This time, as he sketched her nude body, the intimacy and admiration represented in that moment overtook me as I watched Jack use his creative gifts on the woman he loves.
I was texting with my friend throughout this experience. Her response to my sensitivity triggered further emotion inside me, only this time it was tangible because now it had to do directly with me instead of Jack and Rose. (Can we just go back to it being about Jack and Rose?) This year I haven’t made time for being soft or vulnerable. It’s been all grit and holding back in the area of sensitivity so I was taken aback by my reaction to this movie I had seen 19 times prior. When I communicated my disbelief (& frankly dissatisfaction) with my intense emotional response to my friend, she sent me this: “It’s who you are darling. Lol. A beautiful big softie.”
She knows best, truly. I am. But I replied refuting such a heinous accusation. “I AM HARD”- (I try to convince myself and her but again, she knows I do indeed posses a deeply soft nature.)
I got to thinking about all of this and came to the conclusion that I must find a healthy medium to celebrate each portion of myself. The hard, the soft, and everything in between. Each serves a unique purpose and provides a unique makeup of who I am as a whole. I am hard. I am soft. There’s no denying either of those truths, the key goal for me will be finding (and resting) in the sweet spot that enables both traits to work to my advantage. Realistically I need both pieces. In the past I have either functioned off of complete emotion or no emotion at all. Functioning at either extreme has always ended in either my heart being broken or me breaking the heart of another. After experiencing this recycled pattern, I decided it was time to intervene. In the past I would be wholly gentle, experience grief, go wholly hard, heal, back to gentle, hurt, hard, heal, and on and on the wheel spun. There was a severe imbalance with me denying myself of one or the other trait. I’ve learned in the past several months there must be a balance between strength and vulnerability. Both at the same time are necessary to yield in our everyday lives. We need to be enforcing boundaries through strength but loving and gracious while doing so. Mean business, but don’t shut yourself down intimately. All the good things get in through our gentle nature.
Think about cement vs. soil. If you run a water hose over cement nothing soaks in, if you run it over soil it seeps deep deep down and the water becomes a part of the soil enriching it to a fertile state it would not have achieved without the water.
I read a quote recently that said: “When the power of love is greater than the love of power, the world will know peace.” I want to apply this to my heart, I don’t ever want to be so driven by strength or power that I become veiled to love and peace! It’s all too immediately satisfying to operate out of raw strength and power in our hearts. Any threat of pain or grief is eliminated before it has a chance to afflict us because we’re not allowing love a seat at the table and we all know love means risk and vulnerability. But long-term, we will perpetually be unsatisfied as our hearts go longing for our gentle nature that we forcefully forget takes up residence in our hearts and minds.
It’s important to have a mind of your own and to be passionate and vocal about things you believe in with clear boundaries, but for the sake of the ones you love and for the sake of your own beating heart, it is also important to be gentle (soft) allowing people past the surface levels and into a more intimate space in your heart.
It is scary to be soft, it’s why my knee jerk reaction was to reject it in association to the movie and then again as my friend reminded me of my nature. Without letting our hearts venture into vulnerable places, we can’t ever experience the life that is breathed into our weaknesses when we submit them to trusted people who love us. There are places, people, and conversations that are waiting to happen. That are waiting to heal you. That are waiting to show you things your tired heart believes to be impossible. You just need to lay your sword down on occasion in order to see them and experience all the goodness they bring with them.
So, own every part of you. Learn to give authority to all the aspects of your heart instead of relying on only one or the other. Be your whole self, all the time!
I say be strong! I say be gentle! I say be loving. I say, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you do.