Choosing to Be Soft Does Not Make You Weak

Tough times are going to come but your reaction can determine whether you bend or break. Choosing to stay soft does not make you weak.

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The wind blows cold against my back as I walk along the streets in the quiet suburb where I live. I think of other Christmas seasons when I’ve walked this same path with much on my mind. Losses. Hurt. Dreams laid down. 

And I think of loved ones who have felt the chilly breath of trouble on their hopes too. Mamas who have buried babies. Teens who have survived abuse. Folks who have battled cancer. It’s a cold world sometimes. Some of those folks have come out of those times with greater strength, tenderness and resilience. Others have become bitter and hard. I quietly ask myself, “What makes the difference?”

As I ponder that question, I think back to one particularly painful season in my life. It seemed sorrow, frustration and disappointment threatened to overtake me. I wanted to shut down my heart, lock the door of my life and let bitterness move in as my only companion. And God seemed to keep whispering, “Yield, yield, yield.” 

I grew up in a place where hurricanes were frequent and I learned this: the trees that survive are the ones that bend. 

Tough times do one of two things: they reshape us or they break us. And the choice of which is up to us.

If we stiffen our souls and harden our hearts, then the wind blows against us until we break to our core. But if we can bend–keep trusting, hoping, loving–then we are transformed in ways beyond our understanding.

Oh, we will have days when we experience deep grief and anger. That’s okay…it’s actually part of yielding. We let ourselves feel our emotions and we wave them wildly for a bit like branches. It’s when we stop feeling that we should begin to worry. When we fake it. Or when we insist on having our own way. When we stop believing God is good because He did not give us what we wanted.

I’ve talked with thousands of women about unspeakable tragedies. Losses of loved ones. Abuse so horrific most of us can’t even imagine it. Betrayal that shreds decades of marriage like it’s the thinnest of paper. And I have found this: It is not the circumstances or even the depth of the hurt that determines who heals. It’s the response. 

Those that somehow thrive never lose their softness. You can see it in their eyes. You can hear it in their voices. You can tell it by the way they are still kind to others. Oh, they are fierce, these women. Tenderness and tenacity are sisters. But they are not hard inside.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matt. 7:24-25

Yes, here’s the secret we can cling to when the wind comes: Life is hard but we do not have to be…because of Jesus.

When He is our security we do not have to protect ourselves by stiffening our souls. We don’t have to make ourselves “unbreakable” because we are so afraid. We don’t have to shut out anything that seems it might make us weak–like love, hope or kindness.

There’s another part of the parable too. And it’s that the structure on the foundation must not be completely unyielding. My husband worked as an architect for many years and when we go to cities he always points to the very top of solid, sturdy sky scrapers and says, “Look for the little bit of movement up there. The ability to yield makes them able to withstand the wind. Every architect knows that has to be part of the design. Without it, they would fall.”

As I reach my house again the wind has stilled to almost a whisper. The trees are at peace again. They stretch their branches high toward the last of the sun’s rays. It looks like an act of hope. Or perhaps of praise. 



Holley Gerth


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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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