The Psychologist describes resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity or trauma.
Part of resilience is coping well with joy and pain, grief and laughter, happiness and sadness. However, one of the prevailing views among Christians is that one should be happy always. Of course, this is an impossible feat, but many try to appear as if they are untouched by sadness and adversity. I believe many do this because it makes them more acceptable, and they appear spiritually mature and robust. By appearing not to have pain, they show at least on the surface that they have strength and tenacity in the face of trauma.
However, this position is unsupported by scripture. The examples that we have are people who lean into the pain as much as happiness. For instance, David cried unto the Lord, but he also dances for joy. It’s inauthentic and lacks honesty when we focus on the part of David’s life when he is dancing and not the places when he talked about his soul being sad and the times when he questions God. We see some of these emotions displayed in Psalm 77:2 ‘In the day of my trouble; I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.”
In the next verse, he said, “I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.”
Have you ever been overwhelmed? David has. People who are resilient experience overwhelming situations, but they can move from that place of bewilderment to a place of peace. So if you are someone who experienced trauma, recent or otherwise, and is struggling to cope, you are not alone. It is normal for people to feel sadness and grief when they face personal or family tragedy. Jesus makes allowance for the hurting. The chapter of Isaiah 58 has many instructions around how to deal with the brokenhearted.
He also points out in Psalms 147:3 that He comes to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. This action of binding up wounds would not be necessary if God knew that people would be okay all the time.
Resilience requires tenacity and courage to know when one’s in pain and feel comfortable seeking support.
When the image of perfection is the woman seemingly unaffected by life challenges, it puts pressure on others to be like her. This stoic image is not representative of Christ and often repels people who don’t feel ‘good enough.’
Resilience building takes time and effort; it takes courage and spiritual maturity to experience a range of emotions. To feel joy and pain and hold and fall into both experiences. Resilience building also involves taking knowledge of God beyond just knowing about Him; instead, it requires having an intimate experience with Him that assures you of His ability to bear what you feel. Isaiah 53:4 tells us “surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
Resilient people have some things in common; these are truths that are known and internalised.
• Resilience shows through your ability to let Him bear your griefs and sorrows as well as laughter and joy.
• When one knows God, they know that He will do what He says He will do – comfort the broken heart and be their place of peace.
• They can trust the promise in Isaiah that He will give ‘beauty for ashes, oil of joy for the spirit of mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.’
The spiritually mature that is growing in resilience will understand that this process uses the tools to work through times of pain.
• Resilience allows the individual to learn tools when they don’t have what’s needed.
• They asked questions because they allow themselves to feel and be fully present with what they are feeling.
• They will ask questions such as ‘what do I need to help me through this phase?’
• They will be able to do an inventory of their coping strategies, be honest with themselves, and search for tools to help prop up what they already have.
• They will know that a considerable part of resilience is knowing what you need and knowing where to go to have those needs met.
Resilience is the ability to fully be with sadness when it comes and embrace joy when it comes. Embracing these emotions might mean crying over losing a loved one and laughing in the next moment at the antics of a child or a comedian.
People growing in resilience know that they don’t have to sacrifice pain to experience joy; they know that it is possible to be comfortable with both.
• Be honest with how you are feeling.
• Make space for both joy and sadness.
• Jesus can handle both negative and positive emotions. He made plans for both.
– – – – – –
Learn secure attachment and resilient building tips in our biweekly newsletter. The first 20 people joining will enjoy a discount of $5 for the duration of your time. This month we are focusing on healing attachment injuries and having a better relationship with ourselves. Click HERE to join.