- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
This coronavirus year of 2020 has brought human frailty to the forefront - but also, human resilience. Every one of us are born with some baseline of toughness - physical, emotional, and spiritual. That resilience can increase either on purpose or by accident, but always through a process.
The process itself is a gift.
One thing is for sure — God has authored a path for you and given you a baseline gifting. You can’t change who you are at this moment, and from a worldly standpoint, that may seem unfair. But the good news is that God promises that you can change (Philippians 1:6). And one of His great gifts to us, in this life, is that we get lots of freedom in how that change happens.
Both the Old and New Testaments speak of a heart being transformed, from that of stone to flesh. There is an inherent message that some aspects of human change can only happen by supernatural means. I don’t think I’ll have a good grip on how this works before I die, but I’m coming to learn that our own personal growth ‘in resiliency or otherwise’ is both gifted and earned.
We have to use discipline to live out our own growth while simultaneously recognizing that the growth itself is a gift. It has to be BOTH. A few of the disciplines that I’ve found helpful in my personal growth are rest, solitude, and repentance.
A few words about rest and solitude.
I tend to think that resilient people don’t stop. That they can always keep going, keep working, keep pounding. Is this true?
We see so much of humanity scrambling for bigger, better, and healthier. There’s a part of me that loves this and craves it. And then there’s another part of me that wants to back off the throttle and just stare at a flower or watch a campfire dwindle to nothing while an old friend tells a good story.
I heard a friend call the Coronavirus pandemic, ‘The Great Pause.’ I was lousy at the pause. I tried to keep going, only to find myself more exhausted than ever.
Part of becoming a more resilient person is learning when to admit that you’re dogged...and rest.
Rest comes in many forms. Is it simply going to bed at 9:00? Is it cutting out sugar or coffee at a certain time so that you can sleep? Is it longer vacations? I don’t know. We all have to live our answers on this one.
Another key discipline often overlooked is solitude. An hour in the woods. A weekend alone in a tent. Whatever you can muster, solitude will foster the occasion and the environment for so many of the other critical disciplines that matter (ie: prayer. listening. silence). Solitude is almost a requirement for the latter two and it really gives us the opportunity for repentance.
A few words about repentance
I turned 40 during the pandemic which created a really natural moment of self-reflection that allowed me to see some personal character flaws or sins that I wouldn’t have noticed at my normal pace of life. It’s easy for me to feel awesome when life is happening at 100 miles an hour. When I was forced to stop and process what was going on in my heart, the Lord showed me some things that I needed to admit and then deal with.
It’s really worthwhile to create these moments on purpose instead of waiting for them to happen to you. The more stubborn we are about repentance, the more drastic and violent the correction is when it finally comes along.
It makes me think of the scene in Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ where Luke Skywalker is entering the cave in the Degoba System and he asks Yoda what’s in there. Yoda replies, “only what you take with you.” Luke doesn’t listen and takes his lightsaber into a confrontation that was more internal, more about who he was and who his father was. Upon lopping off the head of a virtual Darth Vader, he sees that Darth Vader was actually himself.
I know it’s just a movie, but I wonder what Luke could have learned if he had left the weapon. Maybe he could have had an honest conversation with the Darth Vader version of himself.
Part of becoming a more resilient person requires that we create some space where we can listen to the truth about ourselves. To be sure, the Holy Spirit wants to help you do that.
What does it look like for you to put your weapons down, go to your cave, and listen to the ‘Yoda’ types of voices in your life, and repent?
Whatever it is. Do this regularly.
You can’t control how resilient you are today, but you can be a part of becoming more resilient for tomorrow.
NOTE: This blog was inspired by thoughts coming from a book I’ve recently read called Resilience by Eric Greitens. It’s a great read and you should check it out.
written by: Alan Wilser