If you stood outside a mall and asked 100 people to say the first word that comes to mind when you say the word “strong”, I bet you would hear the word muscle and bodybuilder more than a few times. Most of us equate strength with big biceps…with moving something heavy from one place to another. There are hundreds of supplements, pills, and shakes on the market to help people that are searching for strength. Some people go to great lengths to become stronger…even if it destroys their body or even takes their life in the process.
I know it is a great source of frustration for me at times in the gym. I want to press more…to squat more…lift more weight than I do. It’s easy to feel weak when you spend so much time working out…with mostly men. I know at times, I get really down on myself when I don’t do as well as I hope to do in the gym. It’s hard to keep it all in perspective. It’s hard to not let my failure there…creep into the rest of my life. I’m always comparing…wondering…”Am I strong enough?”
I recently read an article that helped me remember that strength is more than bulging biceps and 6 pack abs. In an article called “The Iron”, Henry Rollins talks about how lifting weights changed his life…taught him…made him stronger...in more ways than just the obvious. I loved every word he had to say, but one paragraph in particular forever changed the way I think about strength.He said, “Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.”
Sure, I still want to increase the amount I can lift. I will always be striving for more…but I realized that I am not as weak as I once thought. In fact, I am much stronger than some of the very people that I compare myself to. I’m far from perfect. I get mad and I say things I don’t mean. I do not always build others up as I should…but I AM a kind person. I DO care. I am very sensitive about the way other people feel. I feel terrible if I think that I have hurt another person. I protect others…even to my own detriment at times.
So forget the fact that my legs did not cooperate with my heart today in the gym. Forget the fact that my one rep max on a dead lift is a warm up for some men. Beauty fades…bodies age…and muscles shrink…but kindness and sensitivity are lasting. So am I strong enough? IN THE WAYS THAT COUNT I AM!