"I'm strong enough on my own..."
"I don't even want to have to depend on someone else, I want to be entirely self sufficient..."
"I don't want to be considered weak and emotional like some people, I want to be, no, I am that solid rock that other, weaker people can lean on when they stumble..."
"I'm exceptional, above average, and capable of anything I set my mind to..."
All four of those sentences are originals from my own soul. Yuck, it looks even worse in writing. I look back on those thoughts and shake my head at the pride, stupidity, and judgement those statements show.
A lot of those standards, and desires were stemming from my own insecurities and fears. If I have to depend on someone else, they could let me down. If I show my emotions, I'll be considered weak and silly. If I have to go to someone else for help, I will no longer be considered strong, by myself or anyone else. If I am not above others, I'll never be noticed, admired, or praised. (aka, my ego won't get fed).
Yes, those were my thoughts from about age 9-16. I carried so much false pride about myself, who I was, what I was capable of, and how I was better than others.
In all truth, I have had to be a stronger person sometimes. Starting at age 9-12, my family went through a pretty rough season. We'd had rough times before, but I was finally old enough to really be affected by it. When families are facing hard times or crisis, the older members have to step up to the plate. I am the second oldest, so I stepped up into the role of second mom. I did most of my crying at night, when no one could see me. I slapped a smile on my face when inside I felt like parts of me were dying. I kept telling myself I was fine, get over it, move on...
Strength is a great asset that is manifest in multiple ways, and admired by all. But strength is only a true asset when it is understood and used properly. I did, and still do have some real strength that has come into my life through some of my difficulties, but in many ways I despised the real and upheld the false. Being in control and self sufficient emotionally and physically made me feel okay.
It worked for a while. I built up my own Tower of Babel of pride in my mind and heart. I constructed a Wall of Jericho around my emotions so that they couldn't be reached and dealt with. But that system of stuffing, and building myself up could only last for so long.
I recognized that I had problems with pride. I tried to fix them, work harder to have more humility. Can you see the vicious cycle? Trying to fix yourself is like being a hamster on a wheel, you get nowhere and just exhaust yourself in the process.
For some reason me, myself, and I were not enough. I cried over these things, aloud and in my heart. I saw that I was hurting the people I love by my inflated self image and extreme lack of grace. Can you believe that? My mother named me Grace because God gave her that name and told her that I would be a child of grace, mercy, and peace. That felt like a dagger to the heart when I looked at myself and realized that was the direct opposite of who I was. I wasn't strong, I was hard. I wasn't being a rock for people to lean on, I was being a rock for someone to get slapped against. I wasn't emotionally strong, I was holding onto things and hiding them rather than facing them and working it out. That hurt to realize.
I finally made the first real step towards helping myself. I cried (literally) out to God and begged Him for help. I had been trying to do everything on my own for 15 years. I had been a Christian since age 5, but it had taken me 10 years to really see that I need Him for every single part of my life, not just the parts I felt okay about sharing with Him.
The end of me, myself, and I had finally begun...
"...no man is an island..." John Donne, Meditation 17, stanza 9.