I am a fairly petite woman. I was told my whole life how I was way too skinny and I should eat more peanut butter. I was asked repeatedly if I was sure I wasn’t anorexic. Isn’t it funny how other people get bothered by your body and try to change it for you? But I digress. I am, much to my chagrin, rather physically unintimidating. And for that reason alone I have often felt powerless in my life.
Powerless to defend myself.
Powerless to accomplish heavy lifting or moving.
Powerless to protect others if needed.
Powerless to beat my husband at armwrestling or get out of a hold by my large 6 foot boys.
You get the idea.
And it is NOT a good feeling. In fact, in my frustration, it has sometimes made me question the wisdom of the Creator. Why would you put me in a world so full of danger (mainly from other humans) and not make me big enough to defend myself?
I took a self-defense course with krav-maga, but instead of making me feel empowered it only made me more aware of all I cannot do and my physical vulnerability. Where is my Wonder Woman strength, and how can I make an impact if I am so little and powerless?
My discontent got me thinking – where does power come from? Real power, with a capital P.
Great leaders in the world have not necessarily been the biggest and strongest. Sure in the movies they mostly are, just like in the wild, where the largest animals assert their dominance through physically beating their opponent. But in real life, those who exert the greatest power often don’t have the most impressive muscles.
What do they have? Where does power come from? Bigger guns? Military?
If I have a weapon pointed at you – does that mean I now have the power?
If I can hurt you and your family – am I now more dominant than you?
Or does the almighty dollar impart power? Is it better to have financial influence?
Does beauty grant power? No one would argue that good things happen to beautiful people, and they receive perks and privileges the rest do not. Does that make them powerful?
The truth is there will always be someone more beautiful, or with bigger muscles, more money, or scarier weapons.
These things only provide an illusion of power. They do not make you a sovereign force in the universe. In the end they only provide an overly-confident, arrogant and distorted sense of self. In fact they can make people more anxious, because their seeming “power” comes from a source outside of themselves and they can lose it at any time. And they most often misuse this type of “power” to damage those around them.
Is there a power available to us that cannot be taken away? Cannot be hacked, stolen, broken, shot down? Power that can be harnessed to do good?
I have always been drawn to people who exude a sense of peace and confidence and fearlessness – those traits speak power to me. Inner power.
Power over the circumstances, over our mind, over the storm.
Contentment that cannot be altered by outside possessions.
Spiritual strength that cannot be shaken.
The ability to stand come what may, and to do it with grace and dignity and unshakable confidence.
That amazes me everytime I see it.
And I have made an uncomfortable discovery in my observations – these people don’t gain their power from fighting and training and doing more push-ups. They don’t gain it by beefing up their stock portfolio.
They gain their power in submitting – surrendering – to what is and cooperating with the greater power that is at play here.
But surrender sounds like the antecedent of power.
So often in my life I have fought against what I perceived as the injustices that the world was throwing at me. I have fought against myself. I have been unrelenting in my hatred towards the facts of my life – one of them being that I was born a small, meek woman.
I have resented my powerlessness with a smoldering hatred over the years.
I have railed against the fact that I couldn’t afford what I needed, what I wanted – my financial status.
I have complained and shook my fist at the broken system in which I work, day in and day out.
I have held a grudge against life for allowing hurtful people to wreak havoc on my life.
So I am VERY familiar with NOT surrendering to the realities of my life.
But where has that got me?
Surrender leads to acceptance, which turns into peace…which grows into power.
Do I live out of a sense of peace and inner-power?
Especially not when I continue to fight against everything I deem wrong and unfair.
Bitterness never creates power. It eats away at it. It slowly seeps into it like mold climbing up a wall until the foundations are rotten and all of my strength is stripped away.
In order to find my power – which will never come from more money, more physical strength or buying an arsenal of firearms – I need to get in touch with the ultimate power that runs things.
Because there is a force at work that is untamable, frighteningly powerful, yet incredibly good.
It wants to manifest itself in ALL it has created – and that means in me too.
IF I will cooperate.
IF I will surrender my righteous indignation at the cards I have been dealt, the circumstances of my life, the perceived unfairness of existence.
I need to make room for it.
When I am able to release the bitterness and be at peace with myself and where I am – fully and radically accepting ALL that is – suddenly that power is flowing through me.
True power does exist.
It comes from ceasing to fight against the things we cannot control.
It comes from acceptance.
The inner wrestling that has to take place before we can accept what is – and grieve what is not – makes us stronger.
We find our power in rising above what we once thought we so desperately needed and realizing that our life is beautiful and full even without it.
When I taught Montessori the head of the school had a saying which I never liked at the time, but now it makes sense:
The art of life is learning to be obedient to events.
So much energy is wasted beating against the cliff.
It is much better to accept that it is there, and then find a way around it.
Sometimes even learn to appreciate its beauty.
True power comes from removing the neediness from our souls, embracing all of ourselves and all that is in our lives, and then dealing only with those things which we can actually change and mold.
It comes in practicing gratitude and contentment with what we have been given.
Once we are rooted in that sense of power, we then can deal more effectively and intentionally with the things we need to change.
And there may very well be some injustices that need our attention.
But only a person acting out of their inner power can bring about true change.
Accept the power that is IN you – while it may not be able to shake the earth – it is powerful in it’s own way if you will live in it and from it. It will shake YOUR world.
So I need to stop before I engage in a battle and take inventory.
Am I content where I am? Have I positioned myself so as not to be vulnerable and needy in this situation? Am I coming out of a strong position of surrendering all of my anger and accepting the situation for what it is? Have I made peace with myself and the things I cannot control by handing them over to the One who can?
Then I am ready to live out of a place of unshakable power. No one can tempt me to get off course. I WILL stay the course, I WILL finish the race, I WILL NOT relent because I have found my true power and it springs forth from an endless source of peace, love and truth.
Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Marie Durand, Dietrich Bonhoffer, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc, Nelson Mandela… all stood peacefully, in the power they had found through surrender.
Their stance was life-changing, impactful and history making.
And they did so without guns, armies, hatred, bribes, manipulation or threats of harm.
They didn’t need those things because they had found their true power.
You don’t have to be a saint or a martyr to exemplify inner power.
I think of Colin O’Brady, who on the 48th day of his solo trek across Antarctica was ready to give up. He had reached the point of surrender. He had no more fight in him. But by day 54 he awoke with a new peace, a sense of oneness with all around him. The frigid and barren white that surrounded him suddenly seemed to be filled with unconditional love. He walked 32 hours straight to finish the race in record time, pushing his frail and beaten body with the power of an unstoppable spirit which was drawing its strength from oneness with all that was around him and in him.
And YOU have it too.
Surrender and open up to the untameable power that will flow through you when you stop hindering it with bitterness, pointless fights and refusal to accept things you cannot change.
“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”Wayne W. Dyer
Life is waiting to set your spirit on fire and watch you rise with your true unleashed power!