Rebuilding Inner Strength


by Don Sharp, Refuge Center Intern

footprints-in-the-sand“As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.””  – by Mary Stevenson

Sometimes pain, sadness, anger, Loneliness, or fear can erode our faculties and bring us to our knees … and sometimes that can be a good place to be. Whether we are weakened of our own volition or if the world around us has brought us down, the hand that reaches out to lift us can be an irreplaceable part of rebuilding our own inner strength so that we can go on to tackle life’s challenges with courage and confidence again. Just as with a healing bone, this inner rebuilding can create a stronger us, and the hero within each of us can, at last, emerge.

In her 2005 book Attachment Processes in Couple and Family Therapy, Dr. Susan Johnson explained that what we need from those who are significant in our lives is an affirming answer to the question, “Can I count on you to be there to understand me and respond to me when I need you?” This is explained as a basic need for all members of the human family. It is these sources of emotional security that give us the courage to press on when we feel like we are walking uphill into a headwind.

For a time the relationship between therapist and client can be that source of security and it is an honor to be there in that capacity. Having said that, it is equally important that such relationships be nurtured, or forged from, among those who are with us on a daily basis and who are, therefore, more accessible.

In the poem above, the author recognizes God as her ultimate and unfailing source of assurance and strength. Wherever we look, we need to be intentional about discovering and accessing these oases in our lives. Whether we need a guide to take our hand and walk with us or strong arms to lift and carry us until our own strength is replenished. We need to discover and then avail ourselves of these sources of strength. By so doing, we may, eventually, become someone else’s oasis of refuge and replenishment.

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