Many of us have “been there”. A traumatic event, a death or situation, injury, or illness causes persistent and ongoing physical, emotional and mental pain that does not subside. When this happens we feel helpless, hopeless, discouraged, and overwhelmed. We feel defeated. Whatever the situation or circumstance, people can be weakened by the darkness of this world. Some people have a resilient spirit and others are left debilitated. How is it that some are resilient and others are not? The answer is God.
Reconsider your outlook
Do we look at things from a worldly perspective or from an eternal perspective, where we have all the blessings, perspectives, and promises that keep us going? When we look at things from a worldly perspective, we have only worldly things to depend upon. And in turn, the world is full of darkness. People fail us, life has its disappointments, injuries, and challenges are certain. However, God does not disappoint us. When we take a step back and reconsider our outlook, often our attitude changes and a healthier more resilient attitude results.
Some healthy mindsets of a person who desires to be resilient include:
- A perspective of trust between the individual and God. In the Bible, God makes promises for those who hurt. (He does not promise we won’t hurt here on earth, in fact he warns us that hurts are to be expected.) He does remind us that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8), He heals the broken hearted (Psalm 147:3), and all who are weak and heavy laden are to come to him and we will find rest (Matt 11:28).
- Considering a bigger perspective than merely the present. People who are resilient can look beyond the immediate and foresee there is a difference between the eternal plan and the worldly plan for their lives. When we are weak, often it is that moment we are more connected with God, and therefore, and suddenly it is because of our hopeless circumstances that we find HOPE and connection with Christ.
- There are times our negative experience will prepare us for helping others. Therefore we are able to pass along compassion because we received compassion in the past. This is helpful to others and the world. God tells us, He can work good in all sets of circumstances for those that love God (Roman 8:28).
- People who are resilient know how to seek and access helpful resources. There is a belief using resources makes us stronger, not weaker. We know how to use the resources that are available. One is not afraid to ask others for help/support. It is not healthy to live in isolation and we were created to connect and be interdependent. Christ tells us we are to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and the labor of two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
- People who are resilient leave perfectionism behind and move toward the “good enough”. Perfectionism is crippling. The idea is to keep moving in the direction you want/need to go and don’t give up.
- Always be ready to have a “plan B.” Flexibility is a strength that will help you make adjustments along the way. The oak tree that is able to flex in the storm does not break because it knows how to flex and bend to survive.
- People who are resilient spend time getting a clear picture of where they eventually want to be. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”(Proverbs 3:6). They are able to consider what their obstacles are and they make plans to overcome them. It might mean a word of encouragement from a friend, a love note to self, a morning meditation or prayer for strength.
- When you fail, give yourself the opportunity for a “redo” and try again, but there is an attitude of persistence, not of despair. A redo offers forgiveness. A “redo” is an offering of grace you give yourself.
- Life does not always give you great choices, but people who are resilient commit to making the best choice of what is available and continue the journey in hoping other opportunities open up.
- One also knows staying in the present and not worrying about the future is helpful. Things may not great be great at this moment, but situations change, as do feelings, and conditions. As long as you press forward, time can assist in change. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has its own sets of worries (Matt 6:34). Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
- Always start where you are, not where you want or “should” be. Have a realistic perspective and be responsible for making the next right move in the right direction, one step at a time. Celebrating each small victory along the way.
- Always be assured God has plans to prosper you and not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). When you are able to do that, life and its darkness does not seem overwhelming.
- Lastly, know that regardless of what is happening here on earth, this is our temporary home and the joys and beauties of heaven will be our permanent home eternally, and all this on earth is temporary for the Christian. It is because of that promise, we can have Joy in our heart, even when this world is a dark and dreary place. Jesus died, and rose again and “Because HE LIVES, I can face tomorrow.”
Lynnette Aschinger, LISW
Individual, couples, family and child therapist serving the Denison, Ida Grove and Storm Lake Communities