As a younger woman, I was hell bent in insisting that I was a strong. Life had tossed me some pretty tough stuff, but I weathered it and came out intact on the other end. I would declare that I could walk through anything now and be ok. Not much shocked me. I was a strong woman. I affixed my sight on that beacon.
Then, one day, I realized that this beacon was fading. And I was feeling lost. The strength that I had gained and claimed was beginning to suffocate me. I’d call on it with my words and definition of myself, but I didn’t feel it. I knew I could get through the things that life gave to me, but when it came to giving back to life, I felt insignificant and weak. I felt powerless. That’s when I realized, that strength and power are two different things.
Strength is what you can withstand. As you walk through life, life happens to you. Some of it is good and uplifting, but some of it is just plain crappy. Your will gets tested, you suffer loss and disappointment, and you encounter things and people that keep placing weight upon your shoulders. But you carry on day to day, your load ever increasing. You see how strong you are. That is a good thing. It can be a bad thing too. Power is what you accomplish. It is your impact on situations, things and people. It is the mark you leave, the movement, or the change you create. It is the piece that you add that comes from your willful or inadvertent assertion of who you are and what you believe in. It is not what you can carry, but what you can do with the strength you have. Power is a good thing. It can be a bad thing too.
You can be strong, but not be powerful. You can be powerful and not strong. Too much of one without enough of the other becomes self defeating and counter productive. If you continually pile on the weight of life, eventually it crushes you. The hard work and building of your muscles, themselves become too much to bear. When you take the strength you have built and release some of the energy into accomplishing a goal or making a difference, setting an example, or even sharing your story, it gives your strength time to repair and restore. You accomplish more, make an honest difference, and bring meaning and purpose to the things that you have endured. If you continually exert power but have not built the strength to back it, it is not truly power – it is manipulation and control.
When you roll with instead of control the uncontrollable in life, you gain strength that backs your power and your credibility. There is no reward in simply building strength. The reward is in how you live with that strength. Take the strength that living has given you and be powerful with it.
By the way, once I realized my strength really did nothing productive until I CHOSE to see the potential in it and act upon it, my life changed. I was no longer hostage to the things that made me strong, I became the steward of them. What an empowering moment that was.