What’s been testing your level of resilience lately? Let me guess…
Forced transition? Upheaval in your host country? A prolonged season of waiting or uncertainty, or both?
In the animal kingdom we may think of resilience in terms of an animal’s ability to adapt and survive under extreme conditions. What about in the world of us humans?
Here’s a few definitions of resilience from the Cambridge dictionary…
—The ability to be happy or successful again after something difficult or bad has happened.
—The ability of a substance to return to its usual shape after being bent, stretched or pressed.
—The quality of being able to return quickly to a previously good condition after problems.
Personally, I like to think of resilience as the ability to successfully bounce back from difficulty and adapt to change.
When we approach resilience from a biblical worldview, we understand that God desires for his children to thrive and live out their purpose in the midst of trouble. Think of the characters of Joseph, Ruth, and Daniel, to name a few. As Christ followers, we’re called to be overcomers. And that takes resilience.
The Camp Fire of 2018 devastated the town of Paradise, California. This was very close to my home town of Chico. There have been many stories of heroism and survival coming out of this event, but the stories of resilience are still being written. Just like our resilience stories.
While surviving a natural disaster takes place in seconds, minutes and hours, resilience is proven over time and ultimately infuses our lives with purpose and meaning. According to Hebrews chapter 11 this is what a life of faith is all about.
Resilience is indeed a journey of faith in God, endurance with God, and dependence upon God.
We all have some degree of resiliency skills. When change and difficulties are relatively minor, we adapt and move on. But when facing mounting problems and life-altering transitions, we can easily become stuck. The good news is that resiliency is a muscle we can grow when we take advantage of additional support and resources.
Big transitions test our resilience in a way like no other. In the summer of 2016 we transitioned as a family back to the U.S., following 20 years of overseas life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my wife or a trusted friend, “I never realized how hard this would be.” Adjustment and recovery take time. Bouncing back is a process.
Here are 4 actions I took to develop my resilience muscle through transition:
—Worked with a counselor to process some of the more urgent and painful parts of my transition.
—Hired a coach to clarify core values, life purpose and calling… to become more grounded in who I am apart from ministry location, official roles and titles.
—Engaged in more informal yet life-giving conversations with trusted friends and mentors on a regular basis.
—Engaged in live-giving hobbies and activities that had been sitting dormant.
How are you doing in the resilience area? Here are 7 questions for reflection by yourself or with a coach, counselor, friend, or mentor:
How am I feeling about this issue and my ability to get through it in a healthy manner?
What am I doing to prepare myself to successfully navigate this transition?
Is my natural tendency toward rigidity or flexibility? How is this impacting my relationships?
Where am I feeling stuck and in need of support or resources?
How am I settling into my new normal?
Am I resisting things I cannot change?
What is upsetting my world right now and how am I responding to it?
I realize this is a long list of questions, but maybe one or two of them stand out to you. Which ones? Remember that God is for you, loves you, and resiliency can be fostered.
Choose one today and either journal, talk with someone, or think and pray about it on a walk.
This month’s workshop—“How to guard a dream”—considers three questions: what type of dreamer are you, what are the elements of good story telling, and how do you guard a dream? Dreams are God-given ways to experience the Kingdom of God here on earth. But they don’t just happen. Do you know how to guard your dream? Now you can. Get it today.
Photo by Thanuj Mathew on Unsplash