A Message from our DLRE on Resilience
“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Have you heard or seen this adage? How do you feel about it? What about this one: “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Personally, I find neither of these particularly empowering in my times of need. Least of all do I appreciate the deceptively cheery “Buck up, Buttercup!”
But, there is an old Sam Cooke recording of a gospel song called “I’m So Glad/Trouble Don’t Last Always,” and that thought does inspire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI5IODB1W_w It is both a gratitude for the ephemeral nature of suffering, and a reminder that whatever the problem, it–and we–will change, morph, grow. That resolve to consciously move forward with time and circumstance is resilience.
I have been thinking a lot about how we can go about navigating this strange time and I always come back to resilience; maybe because the Kids and I spoke together about resilience quite a few times in February during Children’s Chapel. In researching the subject, I came across a New York Times article from just after 9/11 entitled “The Stories that Bind Us”. The article speaks about the importance of knowing our personal and family narratives. Research has found that children who know more about their families prove to be more resilient, meaning they can moderate the effects of stress.
Here is a link to the article: https://www.nytimes.com/…/the-family-st…
Here is a link to a follow-up article with the 20 questions for families: https://www.huffpost.com/…/the-stories-…
The bottom line of the article is: “if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”
Resilience is something you can build and grow in individuals and in communities. Resilient communities, like BBUUC, are exponentially stronger and more agile than resilient individuals, so going it together is better than going it alone. Just think of all the stories we will have of that time we relocated church to the internet! And how we grew and built on our faith in ourselves, each other, and in our denomination. Our stories are important!
Emergent theology tells us that we won’t always know the goal or the outcome of our efforts, or even the right path to take to head toward the good. But–especially with love and support–we can figure out the next right thing to do. The resolve to do just that, the next right thing, is resilience, too.
For a people of faith, resilience is more than grit (though it can contain grit), and it’s more than good vibes (though good vibes help). Resilience is about keeping the faith together; reminding ourselves and each other of our stories of courage, redemption, and community; and consciously–even playfully–cultivating tools to help us grow into our sturdy wholeness.
Duke, M. P. (2013, May 23). The stories that bind us. What are the 20 questions? Huffington Post.
Feiler, B. (2013, March 15). The stories that bind us. New York Times.
Youngblood, T. H. (2020, February). Resilience. Soul Matters.