A Story of Strength

Over and over again, I have learned where my strength truly lies.

I thought surviving alcohol addiction and overcoming a lifelong eating disorder made me strong. I thought witnessing my child win her battle with cancer made me strong. I thought surviving the death of my father, my beautiful niece, my sister-in-law, and the murder of my best friend within a short five year period made me strong. I even thought, surviving the last six months following the destruction of my home and the entire region of the Florida Panhandle following category 5 Hurricane Michael made me strong. I was wrong.

None of these events made me strong. The strength already existed within me. It had to. And each time I needed it, it grew. It allowed me to rise up. To face my fears. To conquer my demons. To prevail over and over again. My strength wasn’t created because of these events in my life that threatened to destroy me, it already existed. And during times when needed, it was emboldened. Impassioned. It became indomitable because it came from an inexhaustible source. It came from my soul. From my heart.

It sprang from my faith and my belief that if I just continued to take each step, breathe each breath, surrender to its presence, the storm would end. The grief would quiet. The fears would subside. The lessons would remain. And the sheer and magnificent beauty of each survival would add to the foundation on which my life has always been built.

My story isn’t about finding strength. No, it’s about being so very grateful for the surviving and for finally understanding that strength has been there all along.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4: 12-13.

Jennifer N. Fenwick, author Four Weeks: A Journey from Darkness and In the Eye of the Storm: Stories of Survival and Hope from the Florida Panhandle