The inspiring force

This monument honors Martin Luther and other leaders of the Protestant Reformation.  Worms, Germany, August 2005

This monument honors Martin Luther and other leaders of the Protestant Reformation.
Worms, Germany, August 2005

“I was carried beyond myself by the inspiring force of urgent necessity.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If you’ve been through anything especially difficult, harrowing or protracted and exhausting, chances are you’ve heard well-meaning people say “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never do what you are doing.” It’s natural for them to feel that way, but of course, those of us who are enduring great trials or facing seemingly impossible tasks usually do so because we feel we have no other choice.

Sometimes, great and monumental changes are started by people who have no idea where their acts of courage or resistance will lead.  Martin Luther wasn’t planning to leave, let alone divide, the Roman Catholic Church when he penned his 95 Theses.  Rosa Parks may have simply been too tired and fed up with unequal treatment to move to the back of the bus.  I think it’s safe to say that neither of them imagined what would come of their defiance. Nevertheless, their individual actions sparked events that changed the course of human history.

Yet far more often– every day, in fact– people all over the world are similarly carried beyond themselves in ways that are largely unknown and unheeded.  Millions of humans struggling with countless challenges somehow manage to keep going beyond what they might have believed they could endure. Some manage tasks that seem almost impossible under stress. Others quietly bear up under years of chronic pain, or take care of loved ones for years on end, or live with the limitations of physical or mental illness, or press on through repeated failures until success is achieved.  A few of these stories make the news, and inspire us.  But the vast majority of heroes will never be known to us.

What is it that gives us the strength to survive, or even prevail?  Based on what I’ve seen, experienced and observed, I think usually it’s simply that we have no other choice.  No matter how tired or inadequate we may feel, we carry within us the ability to rise above far more challenges than we dream ourselves capable of overcoming.

14 Comments

  1. HarryS

    From where oh where do these forces arise?

    I had something happen to me yesterday which probably is just a happenstance, a coincidence, chance, a fluke but wow wee, did it impress me.

    As happens a lot of times I went ill prepared to find a place of business near Milledgeville Georgia based only on recall of its location on a local map and I drove right by where I thought he was supposed to be searching on the wrong side of the road for it.

    I pulled into a Jiffy Lube to ask for directions and I must add was treated extremely courteously. I identified the business I was searching for; Charter TV, and about that time a service truck pulled up to have his vehicle serviced and what do you think was on the door identifying the truck? – Charter TV! The young men in the truck gave me explicit directions to find the business I searched for.

    Gave me the spookees!

    Was this an answer to an unuttered prayer! 🙂

    • I think it could have been. In any case, I’m glad your dilemma was resolved! I hate to drive around looking for a place without anything to go by. What amazes me are all the immediate and seemingly obvious answers to the most trivial prayers I send up, almost without thinking about them. It’s happened enough times that I am now convinced there is nothing too trivial to pray about. I am kind of like Tevye, I keep a running conversation going :-).

  2. Sheila

    Good early morning, Julia. In my case, I really believe our challenged prosthetic and orthotic patients inspire us everyday. Recently, it was a patient that “walked” up to the reception area, rather than greeting me from a wheelchair. Bill had fit his prosthesis the previous week. I see their struggles and I vow I will try to give them MORE than they came for. I strieve to make their time in our office HAPPY. Somedays are so rewarding that it can’t be described. Inspiration!

    • Sheila, I do think you’re in a position to be inspired continually, much like people who work in pediatric oncology clinics. It can be difficult to see what people go through, but as you point out, the rewards are beyond those in less emotionally taxing jobs. It must be wonderful to be part of the process that allows people to walk again after a very significant loss. I am so glad you are there with your sunny personality to cheer them on!

    • Sheila

      I am definitely the “Pollyanna” at our business! Are you familiar with that movie? 🙂

      • I never saw the movie as far as I can remember, but I did read the book when I was young – it was one of a very few hardcover books I owned as a child. It did make an impression on me, and perhaps was one of the greatest influences on my resolve to think positively.

  3. Wonderful!

  4. Carlyle

    ” I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Paul: Phil. 4:13

    • This verse is a perennial favorite for a good reason, but I think we understand it more as we grow older. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Really enjoyed this post! Thanks 🙂

    I know it’s very late, but here’s my photo challenge post:
    http://fluffytufts.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/statues-and-carvings-cees-photo-challenge/

    • Thank you, I’m so happy you like it! I love it that you are doing Cee’s Photo Challenge at your own pace. I need to try that. I wish I had time to do all her photo and writing challenges. But perhaps the secret lies in not trying to keep pace with it, but get back to it as I can. Great idea!

      Your blog is adorable. You are among many animal lovers here. My husband and I dream of going to Ireland someday. Meanwhile I enjoy visiting there online! Thanks for being here.

      • Thank you Julia! I hope you make it to Ireland someday. It’s a beautiful place 🙂

        In the meantime, take a leaf out of my book and do the challenges at your own pace! They are still just as fun, even when they are late 😉

        • Thanks, I think I will plan to do just that!

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  1. Courage undaunted | Defeat Despair

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