Toughen Up, Buttercup

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I’m a Southern belle from Texas through and through. I remember sitting on my grandmother’s back porch one afternoon talking to her about something or another that I was working on or wanted, I honestly don’t remember now what it was, and she was encouraging me to go after it. She said ” There are no shrinking violets in our family.”

Is this just a Southern expression? I don’t know who else says it but it’s definitely an apt description of most of the women in my family. We are tough, stubborn, opinionated, and hard working. We get stuff done even
though sometimes we run right over people to get it done. That sounds negative but truthfully it’s one of my favorite inherited qualities (the ability to drop grade A sass at a moment’s notice is also in this category).

Sometimes I get the impression that I am supposed to feel negatively about this ability to just push right through stuff. I rarely feel guilty about it though because in a culture that avoids conflict of any kind, including healthy conflict, and spends 30 minutes crafting the perfect vague and unassuming email I tend to find myself uniquely situated to help move things along. And I like that.

I wasn’t always like that. I mean opinionated and stubborn sure but ready to tackle problems? Not so much. Avoidance was the order of the day. But I was blessed by some really tough situations when I was younger and it taught me that it’s better to deal with stuff head on and aggressively than to let them build steam and cause more problems for you later. You tackle enough of the tough stuff long enough and you start to realize that it’s not so tough after all. You CAN do this…even if you thought you couldn’t.

I know there will be more problems that come my way and no matter how tough I am I won’t be able to tackle all of them. I can’t cure loved ones who get sick or create jobs for unemployed friends. But I can go to doctor’s appointments, do research, and hold a frightened hand. I can keep the faith when it seems like no help is coming and I can ask everyone I know if they are hiring or know of someone who is. I can’t think of many instances when there isn’t something you can do…even if it won’t fix everything.

Don’t get me wrong. I have cried buckets when people I love have been hurting and there is nothing I can do to alleviate that hurt. I have spent long hours in prayer asking for answers that didn’t come. But, as I’ve grown, I have learned that crying and sorrow aren’t the same thing as surrendering to despair. And I have found the ability to move forward in the faith knowing that unanswered prayers don’t mean that your prayers weren’t heard.

The world is broken and not as it should be but people of faith are tough people. We aren’t tough because of the things we have weathered but because we know the One who calms the storms. We press on and fight on and look for blessings in broken places because we know that the brokenness of this world doesn’t have the last say. We know that sorrow, loss, death, ruin, and decay are going to come to an end one day. We don’t bow to the powers of this world because we know that only Jesus is Lord…so nothing else can be.

Stuff is going to happen and you are going to have to be tough. But you don’t have to be tough alone.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4: 4

So be brave today. I know it’s hard and I know it feels like it is coming at you from all sides.

But…

It won’t always be this hard.

It won’t last forever.

You don’t have to face it alone.

Go get ’em.

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