"Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up." Nelson Mandela. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. The Bible encourages us to "consider it pure joy" when we face trials because it develops our perseverance. James 1:2-3
"If you can't do anything about it, then let it go. Don't be a prisoner to things you can't change." Tony Gaskins.
This statement, more than any other, gets to the heart of resilience. At least for me. There will always be situations in life that you will not be able to change; only your response to them. Resilient/resiliency is defined in the Oxford dictionary as: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It has been said that "resilience shows physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. It is something we admire and look up to in others. And it's a righteous characteristic that God wants to cultivate in us. It is a quality that directs us to our Creator.
My personal definition for resilient/resiliency is the ability to bounce back or to keep moving forward with hope in the face of or in spite of challenging circumstances. On the surface one might think that this is a given and that everyone has or should have the ability to weather successfully any storm that arises in our lives on a daily basis. We all know that this is not necessarily so. Some people escape storms and trials by exiting life; hope alludes them. Then there are people who seemingly who face obstacle and obstacle and come up confident and smiling. I have thought deeply about what makes the difference. Full transparency, I have often been told that I am one of those people.
Let me pause here to say that I do not welcome trials or storms, neither do I shake my fist at them. I am humbled by them and grateful that God is with me in them. While attending a church service years ago (after the loss of my husband six years ago), a Pastor came up to me and said, "You don't look like what you have been through." I took this to mean that I did not look sad and miserable. Although I was grieving, I did not walk around looking forlorn. My response to him was, "thank you." On the inside I was thinking, "Thank you, I think."
Recently, my daughter was in a car accident with my two youngest grandchildren in the car. The car was totaled, but they were fine (with some minor injuries). My daughter was crying and started talking about what could have happened. My response to her was: "Let's thank God for what happened; you and the children are fine." I was relaying this to a friend and she said to me: "You are resilient." I started thinking this through. I never thought of myself as resilient, per se. Rather, I have, with God's grace been able to briefly assess a happening in my life and decide (accept) that "life happens," and see the hope and mercy of God in it.
My clearest memory and experience with resilience (of course, with me not being aware that I was being resilient) was when my mother passed away in 1963. I vividly remember her preparing to leave for the hospital in the evening. As she was ready to leave, I started crying and asked her if I could go with her. She was going to the hospital to give birth to her ninth child. Of course, she said I could not go with her. The next morning Western Union was at our door. Before my father read the telegram, I knew in my spirit that my mother was not coming back. My mother had died in childbirth, and the 9 pound baby boy (my baby brother) was stillborn. I distinctly remember that I did not cry. The tears would not come. I was probably in shock.
My father went into my parents's room and sat on the edge of the bed and wept. I walked into that room dry eyes and all and put my arms around him and told him that, "It is going to be alright." I still do not know where this came from at that moment. But, he needed more comforting than me in that instance. At the time, I did not have a name for what I was doing. I just did it. (God's grace and providential care). In my child's mind, I reasoned that me and my siblings were going to be okay because we still had our dad. Little did I know that the loss of my mother was too much for my father to bear. He had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized.
We (my seven siblings and I) went to live with my maternal grandmother in the Bronx. Again, I did not cry; I had my grandparents. My father passed away three years later. When I was 16, my grandparents passed away within two months of each other. You guessed it; I did not cry. I was okay because now I had Jesus (thanks to my grandmother and her prayers). I was also grateful for my siblings. We set out on the journey of raising each other, under my direction and supervision. Of course with God's grace, providential care and guidance.
When I think about my life, I ask: "Was I resilient?" Maybe. I guess on some level I had to be. But, I certainly did not think about it. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept moving. But, I did not do anything all by myself. I had support that was instilled in me. The thing that stands out more than anything is hope. My father and mother showed me love; they loved each other and their children. They had reverence for God and taught this reverence to us (me and my siblings). My father gave me hope for a better tomorrow. He spoke to me about getting an education so that I could take care of myself in the future. My mother served as a loving parent and a loving wife. She established routines in the household, and my father delivered discipline to me and my siblings when needed. Both my parents worked, but were never too tired to spend time to show affection. We were shown love and discipline. We were a family. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6.
We were churchgoing. Somewhere in my mind, I understood that people die. I may not have understood every sermon and all the implications, but I surmised that in order to get to heaven, you had to leave this earth. That meant dying. The Pastor and everyone in the church talked about going to heaven as the final destination and were looking forward to it. I did not completely get this, but I understood enough so that I did not grieve so strongly; after all heaven is where people in the church wanted to go. Perhaps I was too young. Then there was my grandmother; Evangelist Mary Jackman. Without a doubt, she was heaven bound and could not wait to get there. In her enthusiasm, she made things a little clearer. She let me know that this place (our existence as we knew it; earth) is not our home. She said, "When God gets ready, you got to move." Further, she said, "Don't hold onto something so tight that you cannot let it go. Everything is on loan from God." I took this to mean people, places and things. When the Lord comes for what belongs to Him, we have no choice but to relinquish it. I have learned to give thanks for all that God has given to me on loan.
Again, am I resilient? Maybe. I would be lying if I said I have cheerfully let go. But, I am humbled by the love, and the joy that God has let me experience while He blessed me to hold onto for a number of years those people, places and things in my life for a season. And so I let go, knowing that God is sovereign, and He knows best. He loves us with an everlasting love. Being resilient means embracing life and what each season of life brings and respond with love, obedience, and gratitude. We brought nothing into this world, we must appreciate what God has allowed us to use. "For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it." 1 Timothy 6:7.
"When we learn to be resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human race." Jaeda Dewalt. Life is multifaceted, and ups and downs are a part of it. "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
"Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient." Steve Maraboli. On a scale of 1 to ten, how resilient are you? Consider the following:
What do you think you deserve? If you think you deserve something, the question is why? Remember Job in the Bible? He was a humble, God-fearing and successful man and then he was tested. He kind of grumbled to God about what was happening to him (he lost everything), and this was God's response. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand." Job 38:4. In all of Job's goodness, he could not escape this season in his life. Neither can we. But, we can take heart because the Lord is not only with you and me, but He has promised us that we can overcome. (John 16:33). Trust God. Please read the Book of Job in the Bible.
Do you believe that life happens to everyone? If we are not careful, we might come to believe that the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. "Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?" Jeremiah 12:1. Be careful with this thinking. We will never know the whole story. What matters is what happens in the end. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18. Are we on the path that God placed us? That is where we need to be in order to end up where God wants us; with Him. When we are on the path that God has designed for our lives, and if we remain faithful, we will be blessed with the things that we need. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33.
How do you respond to challenges in your life? Do you give up or look up? Perhaps you have not faced any challenges to date. My age old advice: Keep on living! There is a season for everything. Look up. "I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." Palm 121:1-2. Maybe it's been a long time since you have had a conversation with the Lord, perhaps you are long overdue. God has not moved and He has not changed. He is waiting for your call.
Need some role models? Look around. In the interim, check out Joseph's story in Genesis 37-50. Briefly, his jealous brothers sold him into slavery to a caravan of Midianites headed to Egypt. He maintained hope, faith in God and an attitude of gratitude. He rose from slavery (including a stint in jail) to second in charge after the Pharaoh. Now that's resilience, perseverance at its highest!! Please read the story. You will be enlightened and blessed. Not to mention encouraged.
In conclusion: "Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected . Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive." James Cascio. When you have done all you can, turn it over to the Lord. There you will find the strength not only to endure, but to do it well. We may stumble, but He will not let us fall. "Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand." Psalm 37:24. Hold to His hand!! It matters. It enhances your state of being. God bless you!
Thank you for your continued support. I remain appreciative. You can comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
P.S. I am posting this a day early. I am traveling and may not have access to a computer. Thank you for your consideration and understanding.