The Line Between Strength and Suffering

If you are from Louisiana, you are probably a steel magnolia.

We live in a beautiful state with cypress trees and bayous, but we pay for it during every hurricane season when we roll the dice. We wait to see if a big one (or ones) is going to threaten our property, day-to-day life, and our world as we know it.

But if you are going to live here, you do it. You roll your eyes when they cancel school even though it was just a strong breeze. You celebrate when November comes and the season was relatively quiet. You prepare, worry, and mourn when the worst-case scenario hits too close to home. But if you have been here long enough, you know the drill. You start making phone calls (if you have reception), check in with the neighbors and family, and get to work to make yourself whole again.

There is suffering, but there is strength. And if you live in Louisiana, you have decided you are strong enough to survive the suffering.

But when is the suffering too much? Sure, people can overcome a great amount of hardship. We live in an imperfect world; no one has a life where suffering is an irrelevant concept. However, people have limits. At what point does the suffering leave a mark? Cracks form. Damage is done.

Branding yourself as a strong person implies that you have endured suffering. Strength is an admirable quality and is required if you are going to live the good life, despite navigating an imperfect world. Does taking a break communicate weakness? Maybe a breather is what sustains your strength so that you do not burn out and quit. Acknowledging weakness may make you stronger overall.

Maybe that is why we cherish our festivals extra in the spring. We celebrate the crawfish when they are in season. We enjoy the 75-degree weather while we have it. The good times are what make the investment in our strength worth it.

From what I can tell, life is more of a “marathon, not a sprint” situation. There must be a cap on suffering in the quest to become strong.

Thus, why I am grateful that beach vacations, queso, baby-smocked dresses, boat days, and Bravo exist. Little luxuries, such as these, provide the rest that is needed to stay strong.

Melissa Fleming
Melissa Fleming lives in Prairieville, Louisiana with her husband, Blake, and their three beautiful daughters: Evelyn (5), Clara (3), and Chloe (2). She graduated from LA Tech with a B.A. in journalism and then earned her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in counselor education from UNO. She is the owner of MWF Counseling, LLC. In between seeing clients and chasing toddlers, she enjoys watching Real Housewives and drinking as much caffeinated tea as possible.


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