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
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
Peace and Grace,