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I'm Not So Tough, Am I?

In recent conversations, someone referred to me as being "tough," and I found myself wanting to protest, to explain away this common misunderstanding...for this wasn't the first time this adjective has been applied to me. I don't feel so tough. I have been through a myriad of experiences in my life that have taught me a lot, and by nature I tend to be cautious and unyielding. But that's not the same as being tough, is it? Wrestling with a bit of emotional turmoil about this, I decided to consult the dictionary about the true meaning of tough:
  1. strong or firm in texture but flexible and not brittle
  2. characterized by severity or uncompromising determination
  3. capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor
  4. very hard to influence
  5. difficult to accomplish, resolve, endure, or deal with
  6. marked by absence of softness or sentimentality

After reading this, I only have issue with number 6, for I am very much a sentimental person and a softie in my own way. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve and reveal my emotions publically, that's for sure. Softness lurks behind the veil of privacy. Y The rest of the definitions are compliments, in my book. Strength has been built into me through enduring severe hardships, and that strength has come from God who has walked with me through various trials and tragedies. At points bitterness and unforgiveness have threatened to consume me, but the Lord has been gracious to never let me get beyond the point of no return. In December of 2006, my pastor taught a month long series on unforgiveness that was thorough and clear - years of gripes, big and small, were exposed and had to be dealt with and let go. Not easy, but necessary and so liberating! Y Uncompromising determination - a trait I highly admire. Capable of enduring hardship. Hard to influence. The flip side is that I might also be hard to deal with, and I must grow in my people skills. My mother has been telling me that since childhood and still reminds me on occasion to "play nicely." My strong opinions, debating skills, and competitiveness have been helpful in some arenas but have not been as successful in human relationships. I'm not too tough to admit that and continue on this journey to soften up a bit - but only in the 5th and 6th definition from above. The other traits, I'll keep!

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