“I didn’t have the choice to not get through this. I couldn’t pick what the outcome decision would be. I wouldn’t have done it any other way. So call me fierce, courageous, or even a gladiator…but for the love of everything, don’t call me strong.”
I wrote that awhile ago, and even today I’m not sure why that saying just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s that I’ve heard it so many times and thought “strength”? I’m not strong, I’m struggling. I’m fighting every single day to get through the next minutes or hours. I don’t know how to do this. This isn’t what I signed up for. It was supposed to be fun. Well, right now, in this moment, it’s hard to see the strength. I’m just trying to not fall apart. Is that what you’re thinking as you haven’t been able to go to your stores and do “business as usual”? That’s how I felt when I closed, too. And my heart breaks for you.
There’s a song by Casting Crowns that starts “Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong. But life hits you out of nowhere and barely leaves you holding on.” It always takes me back to a really hard time in my life that I had to get through with some kind of understanding and the choice to not give up. Even when I wanted to or everyone else thought I should. But that was not the answer. Right now, in this point of history, we all have a choice to be making, because life sure did hit us all in ways we never saw coming or could have possibly predicted.
I could easily write about taking the needed steps to keep your business running or plan for the future or what we all should do or should have done to prepare for such a time as this. But instead, I’m going to tell you to fight like a girl and plan a party (sorry fellas). Our getting to the next step means we have to be fierce in what we do and optimistic in the outcome. So why do I say to plan a party? It comes from a message from Pope Frances that came across my Facebook Feed a few weeks ago and it stuck with me for when the time was right. He wrote “…when all the shopping together will seem like a party.” And that is exactly what’s going to be needed and how those first days open are going to feel. Forget about the work to be done and bills to be paid. Enjoy the memories when you have customers coming through the door greeting you with open arms.
Plan it now to give you that purpose. Come up with a fun name and make a theme. Kids at home? Have art projects where they make signs or color pictures to pass out to customers. Go to the local dollar store and buy some balloons and blow them up and just have them all over the floor. Search Pinterest for ideas that fit your budget. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Maybe it’s just opening the doors up wide and having fun music playing. Do it up right for your customers.
Because here’s the deal: having a party means you didn’t give up. Having a party means you’re celebrating with your friends. Having a party means you kept up the good fight and didn’t back down. Can’t you see it? The excitement? The relief? The joy?
It meant you were more than just “strong”. It meant you had the faith to keep moving forward. It meant you were fierce in the battles you overcame to get to that day. And it meant you understood that the timing was set for you to learn, guide and love where you were needed the most.
No, I won’t call you strong either, for you are much more than that. You, my friends, have become gladiators.