I sat on the sidelines yesterday watching my teenage granddaughter run around the volleyball court doing the most favorite thing she loves to do. It’s awesome to see. She’s not the tallest. Nor the strongest. But she doesn’t have to be – she’s good. She’s concise in her decisions. She’s quick on her feet. She knows the game and in my humble opinion, she’s the best on the team. I know, spoken like the true Nana that I am. Did I mention she’s the Captain of the team too? So she demonstrates leadership, even as she maneuvers her way cautiously through the confusing days of a teenager’s world. She rallies her team, she supports their decisions, she lifts them up when they lose, she cheers them on. If there was a Nana Proud emoji, it’d be right here.:-)
The name of their team is “Fortitude” – a fitting name, don’t you think? I watched that word volley around the court yesterday, as it’s printed on the back of all of their shirts. “Fortitude” captured my attention, both physically and mentally, as it jumped in the air, ran across the court and dived for the ball. My thoughts travelled around that court, too, as well as in my head, pondering the meaning of the word and how it fits so perfectly for a team of young girls striving to win a game using their talent, skills, and souls. They battled the scoreboard, counting each win or loss, pushing to the end, a celebration high five or a slumped walk of defeat. I saw the way in which they lifted each other up, blew it off, patted each other’s back, called out signs of encouragement. It was so awesome to watch her girl tribe in communion with their common love for the game.
The last several months have been particularly challenging for my family tribe, centering around a loving family member and a disease that gets its kicks by breeding devastation in a normally healthy body. It watches with glee as it rips at the unsuspecting hearts and souls of him and our family. I have such a frightening hate for this disease.
I realized that I hadn’t written anything for so long and came to the conclusion that because my soul sprouts the thoughts that run to my fingers and grows on a page. I couldn’t write – it’s been wounded and in repair mode. Recovering and restoring to a new “normal” – a changed soul.
But as I watched that strong word “fortitude” travel around the court on the back of beautiful and innocent youth, I thought about the word and how it applies to everything in life. I realized that fortitude gets us through these awful moments, just waiting for our call.
Braveness. Boldness. Courage. Fearlessness. Gutsiness. Heart. Spirit. Tenacity. The list of meanings for this word goes on and on, describing our “fighting back” in the face of adversity. A God given strength He gave to us all, buried under the normalcy of life. Yet there it is, a fearless strength. A wounded warrior ready to jump in and bring us back, hurt but surviving. A hero to our needs.
In the face of tragedy. In the pitfalls in life. Fortitude. A lifeline to pull us to the surface.
I’ve seen this in action the past few months, not on the backs of a volleyball team, but on the faces of my children and my family. Their caring eyes. Their uplifting smiles. Their tender touch. Their hopeful hearts. I’ve seen the strong power of fortitude bind us together as one, stronger together than apart. Leaning on each other when our own fortitude is shirking in the shadows.
But mostly I’ve seen fortitude on the one we love. The one who is fighting. The one whose life unexpectedly has turned its back on him. The one whose brave spirit has not wavered. Whose humor carries us through. Fortitude is his word right now. His mantra. His thing. Our comfort.
All of us can not escape these hard challenges at some point in this mystery of our lives. At the most unsuspecting moment, it comes like a tornado, swirling in to cause its destruction. To steal away our dreams. To chip away at our strength.
Fires. Hurricanes. Killing. Lost lives. Lost souls. Soldiers. Victims of cruelty. Children suffering. Diseases that destruct. Unsuspecting families torn apart. Tragic news that most of us glance over. A pause in our thoughts. A brief prayer. A swipe of relief that our tribes were untouched. A selfish sigh – it was someone else.
I look at things differently these days. I now know. When I hear of lives affected by tragic times it touches me deeply. I think of how their lives have changed. I think of the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, tribes who are grasping for strength. I think of the families who lift them up. I think of the fighting spirit that gets them all through the bad days that are now theirs.
And I think of that word again.
My granddaughter’s team. A tribe of young girls doing what they love, unaware of the power of this word and how it will carry them through their entire life. The word bouncing around on their backs and smacking me in the head that this is the answer for us all. An odd revelation. An “aha” moment . One that grabbed my soul and pulled it back to the surface, a warrior again. Recognizing and marveling at the strength that is there for us all. There for the taking. There to get us through.
Life tests us. Fortitude saves us.
It’s the simple things that matter. Always.