Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

What Is Strength?

with 42 comments

Folks, this is a special post for the blogging event Collaboration with a Purpose. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Strength. What is it, why do we covet it, and why should we care about it?

Strength-Blog-Collaboration

I think strength is one of the more underappreciated of human virtues. Without strength, no one would live through famine, dearth, wars, or anything profoundly traumatic.

Actor Kevin Sorbo knows this. In his book TRUE STRENGTH (which I reviewed a few years ago over at Shiny Book Review), Sorbo discusses his brush with a catastrophic, life-threatening health condition that robbed him of his physical endurance and what he’d thought of as his strength — that is, everything he could do, physically. At the time, he was known mostly for his work as Hercules, and as such, he had to be strong, cool, confident, and portray someone who could break heads without breaking a sweat, then go to the tavern afterward with his buddy Iolaus and crack jokes.

But this illness changed things. He learned what he was really about; it wasn’t his physical attributes that mattered, as they weren’t what made him strong.

What mattered was his mind. His heart. His spirit. His desire to live, to get better, to take up the mantle of his life again on his terms…and to not give in, until he’d found a way back to the life he was meant to live.

Sorbo credited much of this willingness to continue fighting with faith, along with the love of his wife, Sam. And there is no doubt that’s all true.

Still, I tend to think that it’s the person he was, annealed in fire (or at least forged in illness) that shows exactly what strength is — and what it isn’t.

See, most of us only see the outsides of things. We don’t see the inner workings. We can’t, or we won’t, or maybe we’re afraid to be vulnerable and to admit that we’re all frail in some respects. That we can all make mistakes. And that our lives can change in an instant, whether it’s due to a life-threatening illness, the death of a spouse, or other catastrophic events.

Who we are is often shown in starkest relief after we’ve lived through something incredibly painful. The fact that we endured this, that we came out on the other side and lived to tell about it, is what strength really is.

Now, as to why we should covet it? I think that’s more because some of us are afraid that we may not be everything we think we are. When the chips are down, will we convert on our promise, or will we roll over and play dead?

Granted, being strong means you have to admit that sometimes you’re weak, vulnerable, and not at your best. You have to know that in your darkest moments, even when you’ve lost all hope that things will ever improve, that somehow you’re going to survive, and keep trying, and refuse to give up.

Why we should care about strength is obvious. It’s what makes us who we are. It taps into our souls, into our innermost selves, and demands that we be true to ourselves, or else.

Providing we are, and give it our all, that strength, that innermost drive to survive and do our best will get us through many dark periods of time in our lives. (As well as a few good ones here and there; maybe more than a few?)

At any rate, that’s what I think of, when I think of what strength truly is (and isn’t). What do you think about? (Let me know in the comments.)

(Later today, I’ll add links to all the other bloggers taking part in today’s Collaboration with a Purpose event. I was showing my strength — or at least my bullheadedness — in writing this down now, during a migraine headache. But even my strength has limits; I’ll have to add the links to the other bloggers later, and hope they’ll forgive me down the line.)

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Written by Barb Caffrey

July 5, 2017 at 4:36 am

42 Responses

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  1. Awesome post, Barb, and I agree! I’m sorry you’re having a migraine, I’m prone to migraine myself and know how much they suck. I hope you feel better soon and no worries about adding the links later. ❤️

    Nicolle

    July 5, 2017 at 6:03 am

    • Thanks, Nicolle. I’m glad you enjoyed it and understood about my migraine. (I’m a little better now.)

      Barb Caffrey

      July 5, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      • I’m glad, hope it goes away sooner than later. ❤️

        Nicolle

        July 5, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      • It’s better today but not completely gone. (Thanks for asking, Nicolle.)

        Barb Caffrey

        July 6, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      • Glad to hear it’s better. 😀❤️

        Nicolle

        July 6, 2017 at 8:20 pm

  2. strength is belief in one self and a higher power

    Piotr Mierzejewski

    July 5, 2017 at 6:24 am

  3. Minor addition to a good post. I think “strength” as you use it here is linked with courage. A person might be “strong enough” to resist a problem but may lack the courage to resist.

    Still as I said, this is a good post. 😀

    Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    July 5, 2017 at 7:16 am

  4. […] Barb Caffrey @ Barb Caffrey’s Blog: What is Strength? […]

  5. […] Barb Caffrey […]

  6. […] 4. Barb Caffrey’s Post […]

  7. […] Barb Caffrey @ Brab Caffrey’s Blog (“So, if you believe in any sort of Higher Power, one of the things you need to remember is to forgive yourself once in a while.”) What is Strength? […]

  8. Love your article. I can relate so very well. I agree wholeheartedly when you said, “Who we are is often shown in starkest relief after we’ve lived through something incredibly painful. The fact that we endured this, that we came out on the other side and lived to tell about it, is what strength really is.” YES ! ! it’s hard to endure a personal crisis, but when it’s all over, said, and done, I feel stronger because hopefully there was a lesson in the midst of the trial. TY again. XOXO

    motgpr2014

    July 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    • You are most welcome! I’m glad something I said resonated with you. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

      Barb Caffrey

      July 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

  9. “Granted, being strong means you have to admit that sometimes you’re weak, vulnerable, and not at your best.” I love and can relate to this line. I do feel that vulnerability is the hardest for some of us to allow. Because strength is supposed to be the opposite of weakness. No one wants to appear weak. But, through our tears and struggles and weak moments, those times in our lives are building us into a stronger person. I have also seen the opposite. I recently had a friend that OD’d on drugs due to the weight of his addiction which came back up because he was laid off from work. He was never the same after that, he lost his wife and kids, but he was always such a friendly and great guy. He was an amazing artist too. Needless to say, he caved into the pressure of life. It takes real strength to fight the urge to give up. Giving up is the easy part. Fighting on another day takes courage.

    Sonyo Estavillo

    July 5, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    • Thank you, Sonyo. But I’m very sorry to hear about your friend. I am so sorry he was unwell, and I’m even sorrier still he’s not here talking with you and living his life and finding some way back to some joy or meaning or purpose again.

      Barb Caffrey

      July 5, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      • I know…it is so sad and terrible. I think this is why it’s important to have family or support when things don’t go our way. Strength comes in moral support and knowing we’re not alone. Thanks for your words and for your great post. ❤

        Sonyo Estavillo

        July 5, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      • You’re welcome, Sonyo.

        And yes, family, friends, other support is all important when things go wrong (or way, way wrong as in the case of your friend). But it can be hard to reach out.

        Barb Caffrey

        July 5, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      • Definitely, I think the reaching out part is hard for many people. Pride gets in the way.

        Sonyo Estavillo

        July 5, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      • Yes, it does.

        I had a good friend, years ago, who committed suicide at age 38. (He was older than me, but a wonderful guy. Kind-hearted, loved animals and his family, great bowler, and played the organ in church.) He did not want anyone to feel sorry for him, so he held on to his pride, and even deliberately distracted all of his friends so we’d all think he was with someone else when he went to kill himself. (We knew he was not feeling well, but we didn’t know just how awful it was. Still, we’d taken to spending a lot of time with him; we tried to give him as much support and love as we possibly could.)

        He was a very good man, but had been disappointed many times in life. He’d had two long-term relationships peter out, with the women saying horrible things to him on the way out; he had lost his job; he was about to lose his house, and the house was the last thing his late, much beloved mother had left him.

        He felt like a complete and utter failure. But I only knew this in retrospect.

        All I know is that my friend was a kind and good man. And I wish he’d not have let his pride get in the way of accepting help, as at least five friends stepped up to help (two of them wanted to support him and give him a chance to go on the pro bowler’s tour, even, as my friend had the talent and the average to give it a serious go). He just did not want to accept it…and the world lost a great deal thereby. 😦

        Barb Caffrey

        July 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      • Oh Barb,

        I am so sorry to hear about your friend. 38 is a terribly young age to pass away. I am sure there is a lot of guilt because of this.

        Guilt because friends weren’t able to “save” him from his own dark moments. The thing about depression and disappointment, the depression and “down times” can feel so terrible, it’s like there is no other way of seeing things. It’s like you are blinded by the darkness and can’t see the light. I remember watching a horror movie where the woods were a special place that made you hallucinate, it altered your mind and the way you saw things. It sucked you in to an alternate and negative way of thinking. It got to you so bad, that anyone who went into the woods didn’t make it out alive. They were souls forever trapped in the woods thereafter.

        Dealing with depression myself, I saw this as a metaphor for most of us that deal with depression. When you are in “the woods” you see things and the world differently. Even people that try to help you…there words are twisted, you hear something else instead. I think people who OD…even accidentally are sort of in “the woods” and aren’t able to see clearly. Anyone who is crippled by bad situations in life, can’t seem to find the strength from those negative circumstances.

        At the end of the day, outsiders, those that aren’t in “the woods” can see the light, they can experience the world in the perspective it should be seen. As much as you try to help, if someone wants to take their own life- they will. It’s that simple. It’s a tough subject. I actually did a walk for suicide and raised money for the cause. It’s a very close subject that is dear to my heart.

        Anyone dealing with lifelong depression understands how vulnerable they are to deciding such a fate to end personal suffering. At the end of the day, we have to somehow realize what we do have. I wrote about that depression is not about lack of gratitude. Because, it isn’t.

        But we can still try and remind ourselves and take the baby steps we need to recover from pain and end the cycle of negative thought patterns once and for all. It is a daily work in progress, as I am. Thank you for your post and for sharing such a personal and painful story.

        Stories such as this ought to be shared and examined, to be learned from. ❤

        Sonyo Estavillo

        July 6, 2017 at 10:55 pm

      • You’re welcome, Sonyo.

        Yes, lifelong depression is hard to bear. I’ve had my share of it, though not as bad as some.

        I agree with you also that suicide is one of those very difficult subjects…

        Anyway, I am glad you raised money, as I tried to do some of the same things after my friend passed away so early. He didn’t have any money, and I figured if I could help a little bit with burial expenses, I’d do that…I don’t know how much I actually helped (I raised maybe two hundred bucks, if that much?), but I felt better for trying.

        It didn’t bring back my friend, mind. Nothing would do that.

        But I like to think he’d be happy we remembered him, and wanted to help him, even after he’d passed from this Earth.

        Barb Caffrey

        July 7, 2017 at 12:45 am

  10. Awesome post, Barb! I love it! And I completely agree with it. I’m sorry about the migraine. Takes strength to write through a migraine 😉

    P.S. Don’t worry about the links. We understand.

    Jainey

    July 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    • Thanks, Jainey. I appreciate your kind words. (And it’s either strength to write through a migraine, or sheer cussedness. I leave it to the eye of the beholder as to which it is. 0:-))

      Barb Caffrey

      July 5, 2017 at 9:02 pm

  11. Every time i read your post i find your words are so natural. Strength is surely a virtue of humans. I liked the book review as well. This is really a strong post.

  12. This is such an awesome post. In this paragraph you definitely hit the nail on the head “Granted, being strong means you have to admit that sometimes you’re weak, vulnerable, and not at your best. You have to know that in your darkest moments, even when you’ve lost all hope that things will ever improve, that somehow you’re going to survive, and keep trying, and refuse to give up.” Strength is a lifeblood and we all need it to thrive in life. Thanks for sharing and stay blessed.

    Ajibola

    July 6, 2017 at 4:16 am

  13. I love this line, “You have to know that in your darkest moments, even when you’ve lost all hope that things will ever improve, that somehow you’re going to survive, and keep trying, and refuse to give up.” Thanks for sharing the story of Sorbo. Not all strength is physical. True strength is found within.

    Mylene Orillo

    July 6, 2017 at 8:49 am

  14. To know someoneas closely as I know you ma’am, you are one of the strongest women I have ever known. You have given so many like me tonnes of motivation in our bad times !
    To be reading your work at this moment is itself a privilege for me. I feel so enthusiastic now.
    True, strength means to accept I am not at my best.
    “ think that’s more because some of us are afraid that we may not be everything we think we are. ”
    This Is such a powerful line !!!!!
    Amazing post ma’am like always.
    Keep writing and keep motivating me ❤

    TAJWAR FATMA

    July 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm

  15. […] week, I wrote a post about strength, along with eleven other bloggers as part of the blog event Collaboration with a Purpose. We all […]


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