When I was younger, my cousins and I all got under-roos for Christmas one year. It was either that or at one of our joint birthday parties. Because when you have 18 cousins, you have one party a year not 18 million. Because really, who has that kind of time or strength for that much piñata hitting?
My mom still has a picture of me with my siblings in the fantastic underwear that somehow transformed us into superheroes. Because nothing quite says “save the day” like red and gold undergarments.
I look at that picture now though and realize that little girl had no idea of how strong she really was.
Last week I had someone ask me when I started to believe that I really was strong. I wish I could have said about the same time that the infamous under-roos picture was taken. That then, is when I believed that who I was included the word strong. But if I am honest, it wasn’t until my late 30’s. It wasn’t until then, that I started to understand what strong was.
I had returned from my third trip to Africa years ago more broken than I had ever been. My mind had shifted and it was in fight or flight mode. I really did not know how to function. I thought it was the hardest battle I would ever have to face.
I think the first time that I believed I was strong, was actually walking into that emergency room and asking for help. Splayed out with nothing between my dignity and a paper gown I had to start believing then that I was something else. That I was a warrior.
They say that you become who you surround yourself with. So if you want to be a strong person you need to find strong people. If you want to be brave, find the broken.
I found the people that I wanted to be more like and spent time with them. I signed up for a personal trainer and realized that my body was stronger than I ever thought it could be. I also marched my ass back into therapy. Well, one because I couldn’t make sense of what was going on and two because I am a feeler. I feel everything all the time. I am basically a walking kitten, well maybe a tiger. A walking tiger who likes ice cream.
Knowing I was strong did not come overnight. I did not wake up one morning and ka-boom I was a warrior.
I was warrior all along. I just didn’t know I was.
We all are. We are all warriors. We have all had battles that have left us tasting dirt. And we have had battles that have left scars that tell more stories than we had wanted. We have run through battles unscathed and some have taken parts of us with them. We have fought armies of those in front of us and some of us it is the battles of our past that keep us chained. Some of our battles are on the public front and everyone’s cousin knows our business, while other battles, sometimes the hardest battles, are those we can barely whisper about. Some of us battle alone because we fear that others will view us as weak.
Whatever the battle we face, we become a WARRIOR when we realize we were never meant to go to war alone.
The battles that have left us bloody and raw have only made us stronger because of those around us who carried us to healing.
It is then that we are strong.
I realized that I do not want my daughters to know that they are strong, that they are brave, that they are warriors when they are thirty seven.
I need to them to begin to hear it now.
As I hug my middle one before she goes to bed, I have started to whisper into her ear
You are brave. You are strong. You are a WARRIOR. And I adore you.
It is a small thing. A simple thing. One thing I know I can do. I can tell her who she forgot she was. Who I never knew I was.
And yet who we were born to be.
I have to hope that they will start to believe it before they are my age.
It is time. It is time to start believing that you are a warrior. And reminding the women around us who they are. Who they were born to be.
A warrior asks for help. She takes her medicine. She takes that class she was afraid of. She forgives. She encourages. She delights in others accomplishments. She makes room at the table. She feeds herself well. She tells the truth. She walks towards healing. She doesn’t create drama. She is a listener. She lifts other up without looking for any credit. She lets others go. She is loyal. She is strong. She takes care of herself. She is a servant. She comes closer to the pain. She speaks life into others. She takes responsibility. She sits with the sorrow. She grieves for as long as it takes. She feels all the feels. She celebrates the movement of her body. She delights in the sunshine on her face. She welcomes the quiet. She waits for God to whisper. She follows what sets her heart on fire. She lets others love her.
And most importantly…..she WILL RISE.
A warrior will rise.
I remember one morning, months after I had been home from Africa. I was doing all of the right things. I was taking my medication. I was going to therapy. I was eating only whole foods. I had given up the nectar of the gods, caffeine and I was exercising my butt off. But I still could barely move from the couch some days. I felt like life was happening around me and I would never participate fully again.
Until I did.
Until I let my body heal. Until I let my mind heal. Until I let those around me carry me out of the battle.
And then I would rise.
So sweet one, today if it feels like the weight of fear has you breathless. If the battle you face is too painful to utter off your lips. If your scars have been reopened for the world to see. Remember this…
You are. You always have been, a warrior.
And a warrior WILL rise.