Many years ago, I saw an interview on TV that changed my life.
I wish that I had more details, but to make a long story short, a woman who had been through unspeakable horrors (rape, repeated abuse, false imprisonment, etc.) was being interviewed about her horrific ordeal.
I was actually flipping through the channels trying to find the Lakers game, but something about that woman’s inner strength, poise, and unshakable positive energy caused my thumb to freeze and stop pressing the “Channel Up” button as I listened to her voice.
After watching about 5 minutes of the interview, the interviewer asked the woman a difficult question with sincere curiosity:
“How it is possible for you to move on with your life after going through the hell that you went through?”
Without even the slightest pause, the woman looked directly at the interviewer and responded with the poise and grace that made her strength impossible to forget. Her response to that question has stuck with me ever since I saw the interview years ago:
“Because I’m still here.”
Broken, Not Beaten
At any given moment, you have the power to say, ‘this is not how the story is going to end.'” -Christine Mason Miller
The words of that woman were so powerful to me.
She found the strength to move on with her life because she was still here. The fact that she was still alive meant that there was still an important purpose left for her to fulfill.
In a sense, we all share an important similarity with that woman.
We don’t share the same story, but I believe that all of us have experienced a pain in our lives that was so emotionally devastating that it completely broke us.
- There are people reading these words who have experienced the death of a child.
- There are people reading these words who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
- There are people reading these words who have been abused sexually, physically, or both.
- There are people reading these words who have lost all of their money and were forced to live on the street.
- There are people reading these words who have lost a spouse to suicide.
Those are the examples that I’m aware of, but I know that there literally hundreds of other horrors that the readers of this blog (myself included) have dealt with in their lives. And through it all, there’s one powerful truth that binds us all together:
We’re still here.
The fact that we’re still here means that we might be broken, but we’re not beaten. As impossible as this may seem to someone who is currently in the midst of dealing with unspeakable pain–it is possible to use your pain as strength.
Even though it will not be easy, we can use our experiences to help others who share the same pain as we do. We can use our experiences to protect and advise others from experiencing the same pain that we did. Both are the epitome of strength, and both are very possible–in fact, you might be doing both right now.
Most importantly, the fact that we’re still here means that we have the power to decide how our story is going to end.
And as long as we have that choice, that means we’re not beaten.
You’re Stronger Than You Think
I believe that every one of us has overcome something big in our lives. I mean, really big. If you’re one of those people, then I have some good news for you:
The fact that you overcame that challenge is proof that you have the strength within you to overcome other challenges that may come your way.
This is not an oversimplification, either.
The fact that you’re still here means that you successfully did it before. It also means that you can do it again, too.
Unfortunately, the average person greatly underestimates their inner strength. If you don’t believe me, then humor me for a quick minute.
Think of the biggest challenge that you have faced in your life.
Maybe you’ve beaten this particular challenge or maybe you’re still going through it right now. Either way, in order for you to still be here as a functioning member of society, I’m willing to bet that it took (or is currently taking) a great deal of inner strength in order to make it happen.
Maybe you’ve had moments where you felt like you couldn’t go on. Maybe you’ve experienced a deep despair and hopelessness that wouldn’t let you go. If so, somehow you were able to draw upon an inner strength that has kept you moving forward to this day.
This is a big deal and it’s not one that should be dismissed.
Being strong isn’t about laughing in the face of severe emotional pain, or deluding yourself into believing that it isn’t that bad. Real strength is simply getting out of bed and choosing to move forward. Even if it’s a baby step, believe me, that takes strength.
You are so much stronger than you think that you are, and the fact that you’re still here moving forward is all of the proof that you need to remind you of your strength. And as many of us already know, sometimes we don’t know how strong we can be until “being strong” is our only option.
Equally as important, the fact that you’re still here is also all of the proof that you need to remind you that you still have so much more to do in the world.
Here is the test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” -Richard Bach
I wish that this wasn’t true, but no matter who you are, life will punch you in the mouth. And if it hasn’t yet, trust me it will. The unavoidable truth is that it will hurt like hell when it happens, too.
It’s very possible that you may fall to the ground in a heap, you may taste your own blood slowly filling your mouth, and you may be so broken that you’ll believe that you can’t get up.
You may not even want to get up.
Even so, while you’re on the ground, if you can find the strength to defiantly say three words (even if it’s only a whisper), then no matter what happens to you, life may temporarily break you, but it will never have the ability to defeat you:
“I’m still here.”
And even if you don’t believe it right now, that means that you’re strong.
Much stronger than you may think.
Have you overcome something devastating in your life? Were you able to turn your pain into something positive? Either way, don’t hesitate to jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!