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Notes from the Pastor


Building Resilience

Over the last few weeks we have been focusing on building resilience, not simply surviving hurt, pain, trauma, and injury, but growing out of the pain.  Make no mistake, being resilient is not easy, building resilience is difficult, and growing in spite of or in response to our hurt is arduous.

Resilience can be defined as going through a difficult time or trauma, then moving on with more strength, more wisdom, and more personal power than before the event.  Resilience does not mean we will avoid pain, never hurt, nor find ourselves in a very difficult place, rather it means we find the capacity and ability to not only endure the trauma, but also find it possible to grow in spite of or even because of what happens in our lives.

We are talking about the type of strength we see in a small, green tree limb, the limb can blow about, sway, and even bend, but not break.  We humans have the same capability, sometimes we know it, at other times we have to discover such strength.

Building resilience includes hearing other people's stories of how they not only survived, but thrived, trauma.  We also must be willing to tell our own stories of how we have lived and grown even through times of great hurt.  As photographer Giles Duley* says, we all have ability to make positive change in our world, even after we go through trauma.

Being resilient means being persistent, but "persistent with a twist," persistence that moves toward growth and moves beyond what the book Option B** refers to as the three "P's" that inhibit our ability to live beyond trauma.  The three "P's" are personalization--thinking it is our fault or we are the only ones dealing with such pain, pervasiveness--thinking that the hurt we experience will completely ruin everything else about our lives, and permanence--thinking the impaact of trauma will last forever.  "Perisitence with a twist" means we choose to see the bigger picture of God's love and creation.

One of the more difficult challenges of being resilient and building resilience is naming the "elephant in the room."  Let us remember those who have died, let us be willing to name our pain, and let us be willing to go the extra step of explaining why we think and believe what we do about our lives

Remember, one of the biggest helps in building resilience and being resilient is "having a button to push."  The concept of a button comes from a study of people under stress who were told if the stress became unbearable, they could "push a button" for help.  Simply knowing help was available was enough to lower the stress and anxiety.  Who is your button?  For whom are you a button? Are you willing to turn to God's button of overwhelming love?

In this journey of building resilience, we also need to perceive we are safe enough in God's love to grow beyond our pain.  Re-framing our stories to see that there is more to our lives than the trauma we experience, the pain we feel, and the hurt we might have caused, invites us to choose to live in God's love.  However, living in God's love is a paradox--we are invited to let God be God (that is, let go of trying to fix our lives or our world) while simultaneously acknowledging that the way God moves in our world is in, among, and through people just like you and me.

As we celebrated the "Blessing of the Animals" on Oct. 15, 2017, we remembered that our capacity for resillence and ability to build resilence is acknowledging our connection with God's wondrous, interwoven creation.  We are all connected, we need each other, we need our world, we need to recognize our interconnection with all in order to live fully and authentically, in order to be resilient, and build our resilience capacity.

As we begin the month of November, we are given the opportunity to make use of a key factor of resilience: Gratitude.  When we choose to be thankful for the pleasures of life, the pains of living, and the presence of God, we are well on the way to increasing our resilience.  Being thankful, even in the moment of deepest agony, for God with us, may be enough resilience for this day.  As Meister Ekhart said, "If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough."

In building our resilience capacity, we need to remember that we seek to be resilient not only to live our own lives more authentically, but we build our own resilience in order to help other people, indeed our whole world, build resilience in face of the hardships of life.  Seeking to build our resilience is one of the main ways we increase our ability to love and share God's love for all, no matter what the circumstances.

*see Ted Talks, "When a reporter becomes the story," or view the Rose Hill UMC app/You Tube channel pastor john martin Sunday09102017
**Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
***Option B, or view the Rose Hill UMC app/YouTube channel pastor john martin Sunday 10012017

Peace and Grace,


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