I came across a Facebook post recently that reminded me of one of the chapters in my story. The post said, ‘strong women never rest…’ I commented that resting is a form of strength. Not only is resting a form of strength, but asking for support when you need it and having the right people in your life who can support you, regardless of how strong they perceive you to be, is critical for your well-being.
We assume that a “strong” person doesn’t need any help because they can endure and push through and stand firm when faced with adversity. And, because they are strong, it may appear they have it all together and nothing fazes them. But, beneath the smiles and brave faces can sometimes be immense pain.
When a person is used to being acknowledged for their strength and knows that everyone expects them to handle things, it can be difficult to show a crack in the armor, be vulnerable and say, “Hey, I need help.” Feeling and acting as though you must be strong all the time consumes an incredible amount of energy. There is never a place to rest or lay your burdens down.
I’ve struggled at times with people perceiving me as someone strong enough to handle the adversity and challenges of life. At times, I took pride in this strength and convinced myself I could handle anything by myself. That was until I realized how much I really needed someone.
A few years ago, my strong spirit was broken. I was exhausted, confused and felt alone. Picking myself up and dusting myself off was only an illusion. I realized I needed help, so I spoke with one of our pastors. From the recommendation of him, I accepted the support of a Stephen Minister. Every week she listened, encouraged, affirmed, and sometimes, cried with me. Scripture and prayer grounded our conversations reminding me that I was never alone. Not only was she by my side, walking with me, but so was God. The strength I gained back over time came from leaning on and believing in him. As my faith deepened, so did my relationship with God. I owe much of this to my Stephen Minister.
I will always be grateful for my Stephen Minister and will never be embarrassed or ashamed that I revealed a crack in my armor and said, “Hey, I need help.” I will never hesitate to ask for help or support again, especially of a Stephen Minister. I learned that strength doesn’t always come from being strong all the time. Sometimes we find strength in acknowledging what we can’t do alone. We find strength in the comfort of others. Sometimes we find strength in our own vulnerability. And almost all the time, we find strength from a faithful and loving God who is always with us.
We are fortunate at First Lutheran to have a team of trained, committed and confidential Stephen Ministers who are available to you and me when we are struggling in life. Know that whatever life challenges you face – a health-related diagnosis, death of a loved one, loss of a job, the end of a friendship or relationship – you can say, “Hey! I need help!” and someone will be there for you. Speak to Pastor Erin or email the Stephen Ministry Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore the possibility of a Stephen Minister.