Strengths and Weaknesses

I was sitting here thinking about the concept of strengths and weaknesses in our lives. In my experience I’ve noticed that people, including myself, tend to measure ourselves and others based on strengths and weaknesses. This does more damage than good as strengths and weaknesses are subjective. What is seen as a strength to one person may be viewed as a weakness to another. There are things in my own life that I often consider to be weaknesses in me; however, those very things I consider to be weaknesses are the things others tell me they see to be strengths in my life.

I’ve often heard people describing strength in the form of being like the mighty oak tree that is big and strong due to the denseness of its wood as well as its widespread root system. Palm trees are also often described as strong due to their flexibility. They’re able to bend during a storm without breaking. These are both beautiful images we use to describe strength.

I’ve heard several people speak of the strength of the palm tree and how it can survive the horrible conditions of a hurricane. I’ve often heard it said that the palm tree may bend but it doesn’t break. It stands strong no matter what. While this is a nice thing to say and it is factual, we often don’t pay much attention to the fact that it goes through the intense pressure of a storm. Yes, we mention the storm, but we focus on the stand. While I agree that it is important to focus on the stand, it is also important to be aware of the effects of the storm. Luke 14:12 tells us “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (ESV). It’s important to get to know yourself deeply enough that you know what amount of pressure you’re able to stand. Pressures are a natural part of life, and we are guaranteed to face pressures. The more rooted and grounded we are, the more pressures we’re able to withstand.

While the oak tree and the palm tree are more majestic pictures of strength in nature, there are other pictures of strength in nature that tend to be viewed as less magnificent. For example, think of the dandelion. While the dandelion has many medicinal properties and it is the go to flower for children to bring their moms, many people consider the dandelion to be an annoying weed that wants to overtake their lawns. Yes, dandelions can be invasive, which can be seen as either a strength or a weakness. It depends on your perspective. Dandelions have the tenacity to pop up through cracks in cement. The pressure of the cement doesn’t stop them from growing, it simply causes them to find an opening where they can grow through.

I think generally people view the dandelion as lesser than the oak or palm tree. All three of these plants are pictures of strengths. Many of us have gone through times in our lives where we may feel insignificant like the dandelion. We may see others who seem to portray the strength of the oak or palm tree and feel like we don’t measure up. We may be feeling pressure pushing us down, trying to trample us, yet we find that one little crack where we can peek through and grow. While it may not look as majestic as the trees, it shows an amazing strength and resilience. It’s time we choose to see the strengths in ourselves. We need to stop comparing ourselves with others and realize that we all have strengths in areas even though it may look different than those around us.

When I go for a walk in my back yard, I love to walk the perimeter of the fence that is lined with poplar trees. I’m fascinated with the trees that have grown up so close to the fence that the barbed wire has cut right through the tree over time and has healed with the wire solidified through the center of the tree. Obviously, the fence was so close as the trees were growing, that the wire pressed against the tree, over time making a cut in the wood. As the tree grew, the wire cut deeper into the wood, eventually healing with the wire inside the tree. In some places it is not only the wire that is through the center of the tree, but also the entire board.  This picture reminds me that no matter what takes place in our lives, we can still rise strong. Yes, pressures often bring pain, but we choose whether we allow the pain to stop us or whether we push through the pain and continue to grow.

I’d encourage you to remember that each of us has strengths in our lives that sometimes we don’t recognize. I’m here to remind you today that you are strong, and you can walk through the pressures you may be facing. Whether you feel like a strong oak, able to stand big and strong no matter what, or you feel like a palm tree that is being thrashed around in the midst of a hurricane, bending but still standing, or even like an annoying little dandelion finding a small crack in the cement to grow through, you are strong and you can endure the pressures you’re facing and make it through to the other side. Also remember, you don’t have to do it alone. There is also strength in numbers and perhaps you need to rely on your relationships to help get you through. That also shows strength as it takes strength to be vulnerable. No matter how you get through, I’m here to remind you that you are well able, and you’ve got this!


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