I grew up without a mom.
That's not true.... I grew up without the mom I thought I wanted.
My mom – gentle, poetic, and kind – battled debilitating mental illness for her entire life.
My memories include my little sister and me tucking her into bed during the middle of the day, wondering why our mom wasn't tucking us to sleep at night.
She was severely depressed. I didn't know this until I was in my teens.
I ached for a mom who was strong and independent. I wanted a woman-figure to show me how to take care of myself, to believe in myself, and to be strong for myself.
In a roundabout way, she did.
....This brings me back to my Sunday Sketchbook.
When I met a stranger named Emmanuel on my trip to Florida earlier this year (you can read about our encounter here. I kept his business card and pasted it in my pages), he shared with me this bit of encouragement:
"The joy of the Lord is our strength."
- Nehemiah 8:10 -
These words settled into my heart.
Strength, by definition, is the ability to carry a heavy load, to withstand a great amount of force or pressure.
The verse made me realize that sometimes strength can be the willingness/willfulness to smile.... when it hurts and it sucks, and everything in you wants to fall to your knees, throw in the towel, or pack up and walk out.
Maybe my mom wasn't "strong and independent" in the way that I wanted her to be. But what if she was strong? What if her gentleness was her own deep resolve to not let the weight of life crush her?
What if she choosing to hold onto joy, even if the smallest of ways, is a measure of strength greater than we realize?
So these are my Sunday Sketches.
Strength, Joy, and "Stubborn Gladness" are things I value... for the reasons listed above. If you can smile when life gets hard, you're someone I want to be around.
The pages were inspired by Josh Garrels song, "Farther Along". You can watch the video here.
What does strength look like to you?