Our family is a karate family. We started this journey together 3 1/2 years ago. It all began as our children started classes, followed by my husband and then I jumped in. It has been a strengthening force individually and collectively.
As we have progressed through our journey, we have all experienced moments when we needed to dig deep and find that inner source of courage and strength to pull us through. There are unique challenges that come with a new kata, weapon or technique. Some come easy and others are more difficult to learn. Fortunately we have all done this together and where one is weak there are 3 of us who are strong.
Our sweet daughter is one belt behind my husband, son and I. We decided that we would all earn our black belts together, so she is going through the process to earn her provisional black belt on her own. It is a challenging process. It takes 5 weeks to go through the boot camps and the test. Each week is physically and mentally demanding.
I remember as she came off the mat after the first week. I asked her how she was feeling and her response spoke of the strength she has found in us. She said, “Mom, I feel so alone out there without you guys. I know you are watching me, but you are not there with me. It is hard, but I am going to do this one on my own.”
It kills me to be on the sidelines, watching. There is nothing I want more than to be out there with her, even if we aren’t training ‘together’. The mat is our home, our place of bonding, our place of release and our place of strength. Watching is hard. Yet, I know deep down she needs to do this on her own. She needs to know that she is strong enough to stand and be herself.
Last week they were going through their squats. The requirement is to perform 75 squats. It was the end of training and she was tired. I could see it in the way she was doing her best, but she was spent. I whispered, more to myself than anything, “Be strong girl.” It was as if someone had taken that message and carried it to her heart, because instantly she was stronger. Her form was better and the energy around her was rejuvenated.
I have thought a lot about that moment.
I think our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us as He watches us go through our ‘boot camp’ of life. It is designed to be physically, spiritually and mentally demanding. I wonder if it is difficult for Him to sit back and watch as we do our best to learn, practice and become, knowing it is the best thing for us.
I wonder how many times He whispers, “Be strong.” to our hearts so that we can make it one more step. I know there have been times He has done this for me, because I have felt a strength that can only come from Him enter into my heart and give me just what I need to keep moving.
There is one thing that I have been learning over and over through the past few years of our journey…true strength comes when we are ready to quit, when we are crushed under the pressures that life gives us, when we just don’t know how to go on. It comes from Him and the Atonement of His Son. This strength is just enough. The key is to watch for it and listen for the quiet assurance that He is near.