“Stiff upper lip!”; “Brave face”; “In control!”; “Don’t crack!”; “Don’t let yourself down!” Be strong!
Is being strong all about not letting your guard down, showing little or no emotion, suppressing feelings? Is being strong all about physical strength, physical presence, what you can physically endure?
What about emotional strength, emotional intelligence? How do we rate those qualities? Where do they feature in our ranking of key valuable personality and human traits, attributes and criteria of strength?
Being emotionally strong oneself and for someone else can be one of the hardest things you do in life. Sharing a burden and helping to carry another’s burden can be the most valuable and important task in our life’s journey.
One of the things I have learned, as I go through life, is that enabling a person to feel safe, to cry, to articulate what they are feeling, to talk about it, is so important. It creates a more meaningful and deeper relationship and community of life and faith. Letting people know that it is ok to talk about how I feel and if that leads me to crying and letting out that pain, frustration, fear, whatever those feelings are, then that is ok and good!
Religion is not meant to be a joyless, intolerable, legalistic burden with countless regulations. Jesus tells the people to come to him. Being his follower does make radical demands, but these demands don’t crush the disciple. Jesus obeys his Father out of love and makes possible through his word and example a life of fidelity towards God.
The disciple of Jesus is recognizable when their lived faith does not appear oppressive or as a joyless imposition. But by being gentle, humble, a place of safety and rest! Free to cry! Free to care and love! That’s true discipleship and being Christ in, to and for our world!