Being a Christian is often not easy and full of persecution. Frequently I hear the question, “Why is it so hard to be a Christian?”.
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Life is not always smooth sailing. There are stormy seasons, troubled times, and periods of deep loss and sorrow. Being able to bounce back from these difficult events in our life is an example of resilience.
Resilience means working through the pain, suffering, and disappointment. Learning to grasp and handle setbacks. Growing in confidence, making connections, and building inner strength. Not only returning to the level of competence where we were, but to be able to soar to greater heights.
Developing resilience prepares us to handle all that life throws at us with courage, confidence, strength, and faith. Often the experience of being challenged is the catalyst promoting resiliency. It is the courage to continue that counts.
Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary: and they shall walk and not faint.”
When we place our faith in Christ, we are never alone. Remembering that, we do not lose heart. God is very near to help us carry the load. If we place our trust in him, we will be enabled to grow more resilient and to live a more joyful and productive life.
What does resilience mean? Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, unforgiveness or other significant sources of stress. It may include irrational fears and unexpected, even unusual, setbacks. It encompasses the areas of family, relationships, finances, health, education, and opportunities.
Resilience means being able to assess the threatening situation, keep calm in making needed decisions, and develop the skills to rebuild and return – perhaps even stronger than we were prior to the adversities.
The calm is the assurance that is afforded by God’s presence in our lives. His presence is the comfort and power that we have longed for.
Development of resilience gives us the ability to assess the situation, take a calm and resolute approach, and carry out plans for renewal rather than collapsing when things spiral downward.
Resilience denotes a soundness of mind and purpose, along with added maturity, and the ability to set new goals and flourish once again. Resilience is the Biblical norm for Christians.
Paul writes in Philippians 3:13-14 “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We press on.
Resilience is a basic living skill that should be taught and gently reinforced in childhood. Some children may seem to have more than enough childhood resilience built in. They try and fail over and over, until they successfully learn and develop the basic physical skills. Determination can be seen when a child tries, fails, repeats, tries, fails, and repeats again. Allowing each child to experience this teaches the importance of not giving up and the joy of accomplishment.
Assuring a child that you are there for him when failure enters his life is essential. A child needs encouragement to try again, a family supporting and praising him, and someone to catch him when he falls. We all need that. Great wisdom is needed in parenting a child toward having a resilient spirit.
Some children who may not quickly show physical or mental aptitudes, will need help in developing resiliency. If there are no wins, it is disheartening. There are available a vast number of professionals adept in teaching and guiding these children to develop their mental and physical abilities to the max. Early acknowledgement of the need of professional help may prevent future frustrations, detrimental labeling, and unnecessary trauma.
It behooves us as a society to undergird the efforts for every child to develop to his full ability. This includes teaching our own children the skill of resilience.
The job market ranks first place in the list of stressors in our lives. Successful companies are trying to determine how to build resilience at work. The pressure of keeping the job, of meeting performance expectations, and of qualifying for promotion, combined with the difficulty in dealing with other employees, partners, or customers, can produce a boiling cauldron of problems. No wonder we are a stressed society.
The most resilient individuals or teams are not the ones who never fail, but rather the ones that fail, learn, become wiser, and thrive because of that failure. Being challenged, even severely, may often be a part of what activates resilience as a character trait.
The wise leader recognizes this problem of high intensity stress. The leader will encourage individual growth and seek to develop resilient individuals and build inspired teams of workers.
Encouragement of others, praising employee efforts, listening to ideas, and sharing the blame for failure, develops a team of resilient and innovative employees capable of producing extraordinary results.
These things can build strong, dependable, creative employees, resulting in a more resilient team as well as a more competent leader.
It is to be noted that resilience to stress is not developed by wishing, or living in denial, or withdrawing from society, nor ignoring help from friends, or running from God. It takes awareness and sober planning to deal with the stress in our lives. Do we have what it takes?
Characteristics and practices that resilient people embody may include:
1. Realistic control of choices
2. Personal Goals
3. Group support
5. Optimism with a sense of humor
6. Ability to recognize and identify opportunities
8. Ability to ignore and rise above negativity
9. Faith in God
Using these characteristics of resilient people as a guide, let us ask ourselves in what area do we need to improve. Having these characteristics ingrained in our lives prior to a trial or some trauma can prepare us for the battle. Or even if we fall victim to an undeserved charge. Strength of character emboldens us to be resilient when the trials enter our lives.
Failure is a part of life. The question is how to bounce back from failure.
We all have failed or will fail at some time. Success cannot be without failures. Try and try again is our motto. The well-known quote by Thomas Edison, who failed more than 10,000 times before perfecting the lightbulb, was:” I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
We learn from our failures. We try again. We perfect a craft, a sport, a medical procedure. Resilient people do not stay in their failure. They do not withdraw and never try again.
As a young lad, my son could portray the most dejected of mankind walking off the court after missing a winning basket. A perfect portrait for “The Agony of Defeat.” The epitome of failure. However, invariably, before we could return home and get a meal on the table, he was perfecting that skill over and over on the backyard goal post with great positive thoughts and comments. Resilience.
The more resilient that persons are, the better to forgive themselves for failure and to try again, or to redirect their interests. The defeated person accepts the label of failure and wallows there.
Shake it off, as they say in sports. Set a new goal. Help someone else. You do not have “Failure” imprinted on your shirt. Recognize your abilities. Perfect a gift you have. Look for the next challenge. You are up for that challenge.
Refuse to stay in the state of failure. Learn from it and bounce back – resilience is alive and well in the human spirit.
“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you that hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
As I tried to gather my thoughts on how to approach the subject of how to recover from a setback, I was amazed to find myself flooded with my own history of setbacks. As a product of a rather lonely childhood, raised on a West Texas farm, my mind was constantly cluttered with make-believe in a wide assortment of disciplines. A prolific reader and dreamer, if there was a hint of something to which I could aspire, in my mind it was planned to the most minute detail- not only with ideas but also goals. Needless to say, I learned to recover when those fantastic dreams were usually blown away like a thistle in a dust storm.
However, my adult life has been filled with a variety of areas of professional work, volunteerism, creativity, and teaching. Many a dream did not materialize. We suffered financial setbacks more than once. But we bounced back quickly. I knew how to bounce back. I was adept. I had learned from each setback – I was a pro.
The cry of the masses is the quest for How to Become More Resilient During Covid. Never have we faced two years of Pandemic, isolation, quarantine, over-filled ICUs, healthy people succumbing to a virus for which we had no cure or preventative, for this length of time. Fear, loneliness, loss of jobs, grief, misunderstanding, and a world of vitriol and accusation added to the tension of life.
It has been difficult for even the most resilient among us. How do you bounce back when you are locked up? How do you live without income? What will happen to my gifted children who are not able to participate in school and events?
The human spirit is alive and well. After a shocking halt, innovative ways of working from home, teaching by zoom, and adding pickup and delivery, life is doable. However, depression, drug abuse, suicide, divorce, domestic violence, and murder all proliferated. Families were divided over politics, vaccine, etc.
These steps – intended for the individual – the only person we control -did not cure but surely benefitted the situation:
“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 reminds us that we are not alone. What a peace this brings to troubled hearts.
Divorce is a very traumatic event for both men and women; recovery requires much grace and effort. Divorce is painful because it means the end of a dream; a life plan; a disconnect with mutual friends to some degree; a loss of a family through marriage; and a feeling of defeat or maybe even rejection. Even if the marriage was quite unbearable, there is a loss and sorrow because of the dream destroyed. How to recover from divorce takes time and understanding. And grace – the grace of God to forgive, and the giving of grace to each other.
Resilience during and after divorce is not a one-time occurrence and it’s done. It may take time for reflection to define the many destructive experiences, to ponder, and to know how best to handle. Learning how to convert these negative experiences into positive living is a first step.
Step out of denial. Much like at the death of a spouse, you may go through several steps of grief as you recover from this loss. Be kind to yourself. Be positive. One by one, let feelings of anger, guilt, blame, and rejection drop away. Forgive. Make new friends. Salvage old. You are stepping into a realm of new beginnings. Drop the baggage in the trash. Receive the promises of Jesus Christ to be with you always and to lead and guide you in your decision making.
This is your opportunity to move forward. You do not owe every acquaintance a detailed account of why the marriage failed.
Improve your health habits. Open your mind to new ideas, your heart to spiritual renewal, your life to living without resentment. Recognize the opportunity that is now yours. Take the high road. Let resilience define you.
Take care of your business. Be strong and stable. Choose new relationships that will allow you mental and spiritual growth as you heal and become stronger. You are a survivor. You have bounced back. You are resilient!
Are you suffering Burnout? Are you stressed to the max? Has the job you once enjoyed become loathsome, showing no hope of change? Does your to-do box not have a bottom? Are you unappreciated? Are there no plans for reorganization? Do you wonder how to bounce back from burnout?
Perhaps you are developing chronic headaches, gastric distress, even heart maladies. Are there changes brewing in the office cauldron that may not be in your favor in the long term? Do you have burnout?
Take a break. Get away to the beach for the weekend. Or treat yourself to a week-end devoid of responsibility. Eat well, Get extra sleep. Exercise. Ban any thoughts of the job from your mind. Recoup.
Get help. Take time to meditate. Open your heart to God and just talk to him about your needs and ask him to fill you with some peace and hope.
Take care of you. Treat yourself as you would a beloved member of your family. Do not demand more of yourself than you are able to give.
When rested, present your well thought out ideas of changes that would reduce stress in the workplace to your superiors. Not with blame, but with openness and some worthwhile possibilities or ideas for change.
Burnout usually creeps in without our realizing it. Being able to bounce back, to recreate and reverse the negatives, is a tribute to the resilient spirit you have nourished.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord, your God, goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
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