by Tim Scifres
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was walking upstairs one evening and saw this reflection of duct tape my daughters had put on our sidewalk during the first days of our COVID world in March 2020. I so enjoyed seeing that while walking upstairs each evening. There was a promise of family time, casually drinking my morning coffee, working out (still haven’t got this one started yet!), projects around the house, etc… There was also the overwhelming uncertainty of how things in our world would look. When would we get past this? Now we are asking…will it ever end?
These two words spoke to me as I developed a picture in my mind of how I would like to see my family come through this. What would my daughters think of when we look back and remember the past couple of years? These two words inspired me to try my best to show unshaking strength for my family. I want my daughters and wife to rest and feel safe no matter how long this incredible time of the pandemic lasts. I have been reflecting an awful lot on these two simple words: be strong. My idea of what it means to be strong has truly been shaken to my very core over the past couple of years. Through the continued uncertainty of what our world is becoming and what it will look like. Through a battle with COVID myself and an unimaginable family tragedy late in 2021. I have learned I never knew what strength actually looks like.
Basically every day for the past 22 months, I have felt like this second picture (taken about three months after the first). I have felt worn out, worn down, not a shiny new version of myself.
As I have been contemplating the differences in these two versions of two simple words, some thoughts have come to my mind. I am so thankful my daughters did not use the words be perfect. Perfection is something that can show up on a movie screen, after teams of people decide how to get the picture, what words to say, and multiple takes, editing, and some incredible technology. Perfection is not real life for actual people, like so many of us who are struggling to make it through this day to get to tomorrow.
So what does it mean to be strong? Strength is not always pretty because it is being used every day in the messiness of our lives and this world. Strength does not always stand out because it is used to protect and provide for our loved ones. Strength is not very often actually being very strong. Strength is learning to lean on others and show those around us our weaknesses. Strength is not a picture in a movie, it is getting out of bed every day and trying to do better than yesterday. Strength is being broken, but still showing up for your loved ones.
Strength is absolutely not being perfect, but learning and growing through the mistakes we make every day. Our kids need to learn to strive for strength and growth, not perfection. We need to all celebrate our mistakes, because we have learned and have become stronger through each mistake made. We need to be as strong as we can be, not as strong as other people. This is the picture of what it means to be strong that I want my daughters and my Mathnasium family and students to see.