The streets and public gathering areas were filled yesterday as people came together to speak out about gun violence in our schools. The messages – both printed and spoken aloud – were powerful, imbued with the energy that only honest emotion can convey. Instead of quietly cowering behind desks in the case of an active shooter, these determined voices are refusing to sit silently while life happens to them.
All of those who participated yesterday, either in-person or in-spirit, know what they’re fighting for. They are passionate, dedicated and motivated by their beliefs. They refuse to be passive in the face of adversity and instead of focusing on what they cannot do, they choose to concentrate on what influence they do have.
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Nine years ago, I felt like I was in hiding from an attacker. Even though the assault was emotional and financial, my body spent much of the time curled into a protective fetal curve, quaking with the fear of anticipation over the next offensive volley. I felt helpless, a ping-pong ball caught in the crushing turmoil as the brutal waves of reality crashed upon my unprotected shore.
I trembled. I questioned. I cried. I cursed the universe for the unfairness and I cursed the perpetrator for his selfishness.
He controlled me through the divorce, just as he controlled me through the marriage. As he attacked, I ducked. He accused, I defended. He stonewalled, I grew frustrated.
I was fighting, but I still felt powerless. Hopeless.
Because I was fighting for the wrong reasons.
I was battling against him instead of fighting for something that I believed in.
And as long as I allowed him to dictate the terms of the engagement, I would remain stuck and feeling victimized by my circumstances.
So I shoved him out of my mental space and instead I listened to my voice. My own convictions and guiding principles. And I changed the nature of my fight.
I vowed to fight for others who had experienced covert abuse, offering whatever I could through my own brush with gaslighting and manipulation. I had to make it through so that I could help others find their own way. As my focus shifted away from my own pains and my own struggles, I found more energy and fortitude than I realized I had. When I didn’t feel like I had the strength to climb each hurdle, I reminded myself why it was necessary. And that conviction made it possible.
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When we have something to fight for, determination replaces the immobility of fear. Hopelessness is exchanged for motivation as the internal dialog changes from one of defeat to one of purpose. When you know what you’re fighting for, your focus narrows and your strength intensifies.
My challenge for you today is to identify what it is that you’re fighting for. Maybe you want to create a better life for children. Or perhaps you’re motivated to support your community or to create something new that meets a need.
Don’t stop with just the outline of an idea, flesh it out. Make it real. What form does this purpose take? What does it look like as you activate this purpose? See what you’re fighting for as your target, your focus.
And rather than fighting against what has already happened, fight for what you believe.