WILL You Overcome?
Tough questions to which I didn’t have immediate answers to. In fact, some of us might even find it much easier to sit and journey with someone who is going through a rough patch than to find solutions to our own valley situations.
As I pondered on the questions above, I came across an article in a magazine which interviewed Angela Lee some years ago. Speaking of strength, the One Championship Atomweight World Champion said of strength; that it is not being about “sheer muscle or power”. To her, “strength is about the determination and persistence to never give up – even when the odds are stacked against you… Strength also comes from the will to win my fights and not succumb to self-doubt or weakness. There are moments when I am exhausted and I think to myself: ‘Why am I putting myself through this?’ And then I remember: I do this because this is what I love to do; this is what I was born to do. Keep calm, build your strength, wait for your chance to turn the fight in your favour. That’s why tenacity is the key to my strength.”
That does put things into perspective, about how strength is more than physical strength. In fact, to me, if we go deeper, strength is of the heart and mind. After all, it doesn’t matter how physically strong a person is because a lack of will (for example to live) can bring down even the most physically strong person.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
So strength for living is believing in your heart and mind that God is for you and acting on His promises even when doubts cross your mind or when outward circumstances appear dismal. In other words, faith in action is strength. Starting with baby steps forward, our faith and courage grow and our strides become larger. It is like how Smith Wigglesworth, a Pentecostal minister, had put it: “I’m not moved by what I see, I’m not moved by what I feel, I’m only moved by what I believe in”.
So what do mentally and emotionally strong people have in common? Here are 10 traits:
1. They learn to overcome their fears with God
Some of us fear rejection or failure while others may fear change or hardship. Mentally and emotionally strong people learn to eradicate fears over time by gradually exposing themselves to them and proving that they are stronger than their fears.
For example, one who is afraid of rejection may choose to build courage by taking a part-time sales job; one that requires him/her to cold call prospective clients.
The more you expose yourself and overcome your fears, the more mentally tough you will become. Taking on your fears with God, slowly, is the best way to overcoming it.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” ~ Psalm 118:6 (ESV)
2. They are not intimidated by change
Mentally and emotionally strong people understand that change is the only constant and they do not try to avoid change; they know that behind the changes is an unchanging God who looks out for them and their interests.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~ James 1:17 (ESV)
3. They focus on things they can control
Mentally and emotionally strong people know that they do not have control over every aspect of their lives. They also know that worrying does not solve problems – worry is simply a tax on mental energy on unearned misery. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”
Instead, they focus on what they can control. Often enough, they recognize that the only thing they can control is their attitude or mindset and that they can leave the rest to God; the One who knows best and who has our interest at heart.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? …your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:25, 32b-34 (ESV)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:2 (ESV)
4. They live authentic and congruent lives
Trying to make everyone happy drains one’s mental energy because it is just, well, just plain impossible. Mentally and emotionally strong people, therefore, are not crowd pleasers and recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They are not afraid to say “no” or walk away from a bad deal when necessary. They are clear of their priorities and live an authentic life in accordance with their values and their beliefs.
“We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:4b (NIV)
5. They seek wise counsel
Mentally and emotionally strong people make the effort to step out of their comfort zone to take risks to grow but they do not make reckless decisions. They consider and seek counsel before they make a decision. Once committed to a decision, they embark on some specific action immediately. They do not procrastinate and revert back to analysis-paralysis mode.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” ~ Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV)
6. They live in the present and strive for the future
Mentally and emotionally strong people do not spend time dwelling on the past, wishing things could be different. Instead, they acknowledge what they have gone through and can share with others the tough lessons they have learnt. They always live in the present and look toward the future.
“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:13b-14 (ESV)
“… so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV)
7. They accept responsibility for their own lives
Mentally and emotionally strong people acknowledge that despite the hurts and setbacks they have encountered, they themselves have personal responsibility for their own lives. They understand that while life may not always be easy or fair, they try to “travel light” by forgiving rather than blaming others, they learn from their mistakes and move on. As a result, they learn from their mistakes and are able to move ahead unhindered without repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future to grow into God-intended versions of who they are meant to be.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV)
8. They appreciate and celebrate others’ successes
They are not envious of nor do they resent other people’s success. They know God has uniquely prepared good works for each one of us to do—to each his own—and they can appreciate and celebrate with those who succeed. They recognize that success in what we are called to do comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success. And when they play with or against a better player, they learn from him.
“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose… If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:18,26 (ESV)
9. They never give up
Mentally and emotionally strong people do not view failure as a possible reason to give up. Instead, they see failure as a stepping stone to grow and improve. When things get tough, the tough get going. They are willing to keep on trying until they get it right.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
10. They know that success is a journey
Mentally and emotionally strong people do not expect immediate results or hope to achieve overnight success. Instead, they commit to applying their skills and time to the best of their ability, understanding that real change in behaviour and habits takes time.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” ~ Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
Strength is beautiful.
You are stronger than you think.
Stay strong. Stay strong in God.
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