A Powerlifter’s strongest muscle

Landri Peden is strong!  I mean really… really strong!  As a powerlifter, you can’t miss Landri’s size.  In my recent podcast interview, I asked her to ‘show the guns.’  I should’ve said ‘show the canons’ because I’m pretty confident her biceps are bigger than mine. (Not that I’m the guy who obsesses about my physique.) 

She looks like a woman who has spent hours in the gym.  However, during my interview with her, it was unmistakable that Landri’s greatest strength comes from the inside.  

I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories as a pastor and counselor, but this woman’s incredible story must be at the top of my list. This mother, former soldier, and Army wife has endured intense danger and difficulties that are hard to believe.

Her heart can hold more than her biceps

But during this interview, it occurred to me how strong her heart is. She was raised in a home with anxiety and difficulties from childhood due to her father’s drug addiction. These challenges continued into adulthood while serving as a soldier in the United States Army. However, the most significant burden she had to endure didn’t come from being deployed to combat.

Instead, she experienced what few others would be able to survive while being married to a husband who attempted to murder her and their son before being sentenced to prison for murder.

Landri repeatedly sought help and tried to warn people about her husband’s violent tendencies. No one wanted to listen to her. However, Landri persevered in the middle of this overwhelming silence. Because perseverance is always more important than endurance, she found the strength required to keep her and their son safe from her husband. 

No spouse should ever have to endure abuse in a relationship. The home is supposed to be the safest place for a family.  Landri’s home was a warzone with a constant threat to her life.  This brutal environment forced Landri to develop a heart far stronger than her biceps.

The heart gets stronger through exercise

Landri can bench press 242 pounds and deadlift 535 pounds at the time of this article.  She’s far stronger than most of the women on the planet.  However, she continues to exercise her heart by sharing her story and helping other women who are going through abuse. 

The heart is a muscle that requires work, just like any other muscle group, to get stronger.

It would be easy for any professional powerlifter to spend her time focused on the outside muscles and forget about her heart. But Landri is strong on both the outside and inside. She’s the living embodiment of champion wrestling coach Tom Ryan’s advice, “You don’t get stronger by sitting on the bench.” 

Don’t neglect this muscle

What impressed me most about this woman was her ability to be tender despite the dangers and violence she endured in her home. Few people could remain tender, having gone through the trauma that Landri experienced. Keeping your heart open after this kind of extreme domestic abuse takes real strength of character.

The dark moments are always the most difficult to work through.  

This is true because the biceps and hamstrings can’t carry you through these experiences.  These dark days take a strong core- and I’m not referring to abdominals and obliques.  (I am talking about the character and the confidence to keep going for herself and her son.)

There’s a powerful temptation to shut your heart off to the world after experiencing some of the challenges that Landri has endured.  This natural tendency for self-preservation stems from an unwillingness to take the emotional trauma.  This really sets Landri apart from other people I’ve counseled over the years.  She’s developed the strength that allows her to remain tough and tender at the same time. Most of us could learn a lesson from this powerful woman.

GO HERE to listen to my whole interview with Landri

Further reading

A modern Harriot Tubman

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