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Music and the Spoken Word: Choosing strength

POSTED: July 30, 2017 4:40 a.m.
Deseret Connect/

A storm moves over the Oquirrh Mountains west of Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

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Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast.

You are stronger than you may think. It’s easy to forget that in the midst of life’s storms, when adversity leaves us feeling shaken and weak. But a tree that bends in the wind is not necessarily weak. Just as the unseen roots deep below the ground give the tree its stability, we too have strength that can be hidden even to ourselves. In fact, it often reveals itself only in times of challenge.

Still, it takes a lot of energy to stand upright in a storm, and we might wonder if we have what it takes. But actually, as one writer said: “It (also) takes a lot of emotional energy to be weak. To be miserable and sad and … discouraged and fearful takes a lot of work. Think of all the emotional energy that goes into those choices. … Now consider how much emotional energy it takes to be strong. It takes effort to be strong and courageous and positive and brave, but … it takes less energy than choosing to be weak” (see "In Trying Times, Just Keep Trying," by Merrilee Boyack, Deseret Book).

So if our emotional energy is limited, why would we waste any of it indulging in negative emotions or discouraging thoughts? Why not dedicate whatever energy we have, even if it doesn’t seem like much, to choosing strength?

Although each situation and each person’s life is unique, it helps to look at examples of those who — little by little, a day at a time — choose strength and determination.

Perhaps it’s a mother who learned to love and nurture, despite growing up in a home where she did not enjoy much love or nurturing. Or maybe it’s a father who did his best to find work — and then worked hard — even with less-than-ideal employment prospects.

You might know someone who, as a youth, was rejected by her peers but as an adult has become especially compassionate toward those who are overlooked. Or perhaps you know of a teenager who was cut from a high school sports team but continued to try out year after year, until finally he was made team manager.

They all discovered, during their personal storms, a source of strength available to all of us — the emotional energy to choose to be strong.
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