When you hear the word “resilient”, what first comes to mind? I think of hard working, driven and disciplined. For me, the word ignites images of an athlete in training with pouring sweat erupting, gritted teeth showing and fierce effort being expended. However, synonyms listed for resilient are: elastic, expansive, rebounding, snapping back, flexible and adaptable. These words evoke images of a bouncy ball, a slingshot or a stretchy wad of play dough.
What if real Resiliency isn’t so much about trying hard with teeth pressed, what if it’s more about letting go and bouncing back like a free rubber ball? What if it’s about being adaptable, flexible and even whimsical?
What got me exploring the word “resilient” you ask? A visit with a woman who lives it. Her name is Cassandra.Cassandra has type one diabetes and has faced health challenges for years. Surgeries, transplants, strokes, countless moves, hospital stays … more hospital stays, job changes, job losses, disappointments, successes, tears, celebrations, questions, frustrations, faith, hope, nieces, family, church … more disappointments, more questions, doctors, ambulances sirens and innumerable blood sugar readings … For Cass, this has been life – for years. The wading through the ups and downs of life is resilience.
Has Cassandra been a disciplined workhorse every moment of the battle? No. Has she consistently decided to search for the positive and soldier on with faith? Yes. Amazingly. Her bounce back astounds me! For all of us, there will be aspects of life that feel like an uphill climb. As long as we have breath, we will be getting bounced around. Sometimes, we will make mistakes, and sometimes, life will kick us in the pants. Resilience is the bounce back.
Resiliency looks like the unsexy rising to your feet after taking a big fat fall on the sidewalk pavement – open wounds and all. It looks like the bumbling that happens right after you showcase a clumsy moment on the ski hill.
I think this is why we often miss the beauty of resiliency in our own lives … and in the lives of others. We are looking for the perfectly toned athlete gracefully hopping over hurdles – when true resiliency is the ability to rise again after a hurdle brings you down … because if we are honest, sometimes, they will bring you down … and that’s ok. Before heading for Heaven, Jesus said, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” – John 16:33 msg
So, let’s bounce. Let’s defy false notions of resiliency, recognize the ways we have rebounded over, over, and over again in life – and celebrate the unique beauty of our own ups and downs! The true dazzle of resiliency is in the decision to bounce.