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Sensitive and Strong

It's taken most of my thirty-something years to realize that strength belongs to the sensitive as much as it does to anyone else. If strength is resilience, the willingness to try and try again, and

the audacity to put your heart on the line for the needs of others, I dare say, it's evident across the span of personalities. Strength is found in the naturally bold and in those with a quieter disposition. It's available for all those who choose to pursue it.

As a little girl, I felt more afraid than brave. Chalk it up to an overactive imagination and a few difficult experiences, and I unknowingly found ways to stunt my own growth. There are fears I can now laugh about: not wanting to swim in the deep end of the pool for fear the solid black line would become a snake. Not wanting to keep a windup stuffed animal given to me as a gift since it leapt unexpectedly in the air. Or feeling uneasy that the picture of Noah's Ark above my bed contained the image of a wolf. Along with the set of absurd trepidations, came fears that still make sense: my past dislike of locked doors, impromptu speeches, fear of laughter and ridicule.

While my childhood sensitivities seemed more a curse than a blessing, I, like many other children with my disposition, was given a creative range, an empath's heart, and a desire for unjust situations to be made right. The only thing is: I had to start moving past some of my fears in order to become the person I was designed to be. This process does not happen overnight. I might not think twice about riding elevators by myself today, but there are enough life experiences that require/d me to move beyond comfort zones. Case in point: I had a soft spoken college professor that drew me in with her knowledge and natural eloquence. It was soon after taking a poetry course I realized that I could strand before students and share my love of literature and writing.

I still haven't arrived. Moving past fear is something that will likely require work the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel that I'm a runner who is either thirsty or hitting a wall. Hebrews 12:1 is the equivalent to a gel pack you've hidden away when defeat knocks on your door. ( with perseverance the race marked out for us).

Looking to those who have gone before me is an endless source of encouragement. I've long held onto the truth that God equips the called. Think Moses, who didn't feel an adequate leader to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. Or Naomi, who thought her usefulness was over, but goes on to instruct her daughter-in-law Ruth on how to restore her household. Or Gideon, who considers himself "the least in his family," and is tasked with freeing his people from oppression.

I think to writer/activist Ann Voskamp, a modern example of sensitivity and strength, who moves me to a greater, more courageous life. She's a woman who feels more than most and doesn't let that stop her from adoption or hands-on ministry with Syrian refugees. Her deep sensitivity, her broken-open heart make her all the more useful. These aspects of her personality have become her greatest gifts; they aren't stumbling blocks.

My "brave" might not look like your "brave," and that's alright. Perhaps you're a naturally gifted speaker, love entertaining strangers in your home, or are often the life of the party. Let me be the first to tell you that I admire your undaunted spirit and all the brazenness and boldness that comes with it. We need you to make a difference too. It's good and right that varied brands of strength can rise to the table.

If you have the willingness to move forward, encouragement surrounding you, and make a decision to be a difference in the life of others, you have strength. Often it's far more than you know.

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