Y’all, this is going to be a freakin’ honest post. Like, bearing my heart & inviting you into the mess kind of post.
I can’t count the number of times in my life when this sentence has come out of my mouth:
“I give up. I can’t do it anymore. This is not what I thought life was going to be like. I can’t do it. I don’t have the strength/stamina/care/support/enoughness/etc. to carry on…”
Something in this vein, and how many times it has slipped into my head or slipped out in the 9 months since getting married – you guys, God blessed me with an amazing, supportive man who just lets me cry & rant & pray out loud, and then lets me bounce back.
Honestly, marriage has not always been easy. There are a whole lot of amazing and great days. There are a few days I just feel like I fail at it. Like, it’s the opposite of what I’m called to. Like it takes my me time. And, these sentences seem to pop into my head.
But, honestly, over my entire life (even before marriage), these thoughts have been very real for me, and over the years, I have been challenged with this idea of resiliency.
Why, when I feel that low, do I keep trying day after day?
Why, when in the moment I actually feel this way (because feelings are fleeting), do I continue a moment later, picking myself up & carrying on my merry way?
Why, when I have collapsed in a puddle of tears, sobs, and screams does just one song, one break, or one hug from my husband re-center me to get back to the calling God has set before me?
Why, a minute after questions about God’s goodness, guidance, provision, love, nature, calling, etc., do I continue to push through, have faith, and know that I am still on the path He has set before me?
The easy & difficult answer is resilience.
In the field of psychology, resilience is the quality that allows someone to overcome hardship, mental blocks/illness, and abuse to become something more than what statistics would suggest the outcome would be. Resilience is the quality that means someone can rise to the challenge, even in the face of resistance. Resilience means that even faced with the hardships of life, a person picks up day after day to keep fighting.
Where does my resilience come from?
In honest reality, it comes from Him. If I were to truly disconnect from Him, to be “too tired” every single day, to give into any questions or doubts, to choose to isolate, I doubt very much my ability to be resilient would continue.
If you are in ministry, if you run your own business, if you are married, if you’re a parent, resiliency is a must.
If it isn’t a natural quality you have, it has to be learned. I haven’t quite figured out how to teach it, as it often seems to be a natural quality.
But, if you are filling any or all of these roles, it is a necessity. You will not survive any of those roles without it.
And, why? Because, challenges, grief, disappointment, failure, and doubts will assail you – hard, fast, and often. If you have no resiliency, any of these roles will break you.
Marriage, for example, has been a tough transition for me. Learning to be a leader in my home, while still filling my role as a wife, has been a learning curve. Even with all my education and training, living it out is an entirely different ball game. I have had to learn to be: less selfish, less independent, more gracious, and more able to share my time & space. And, there have been way too many moments I have called myself a failure and said I don’t have it in me, and I’m not good at it (my husband, lucky for me, takes a different stance & encourages me & loves me through it. I thank God for him every day, because I don’t know if God created anyone else on the planet who can handle my particular brand of woman 🙂 )
How do I keep going? How do we keep going? How do we continue in our positive practice of praying every night together, even when we’re upset with one another? How do we wake up and try again on the best of days and the worst of days? RESILIENCE.
He and I are both resilient people. It seems to be a part of who we are, and it is becoming more and more a part of our relationship each day.
I have had these same kinds of moments in all areas of my life: a difficult upbringing, college, grad school, my business, our church planting ministry…and each time one of these moments come up, I wake up the next day & keep going.
If you are going to be in ministry, in a marriage, raise a child, run a business, you have to be able to fight, bounce back, and try. Try again. Especially in the early days.
The first year of marriage is said to be the hardest, with most marriages ending between years 3-7. Your chances of happily ever after, forever, greatly increase after that 7 year mark. In order to get there, most couples have had the resiliency to fix what is broken and love each other through it (there is a percentage here who also give up & resign themselves. That’s not love or resiliency, and that’s not the kind of spirit that will have an impact).
The first year to 3 years of business and new ministry are much the same. Most fail or end in that time span, for similar reasons as a marriage. The work it takes is too much, the stress is too much, and people give up.
So, what about those people who don’t give up? They find their resilient nature – either innate in them or by learning – and they press on. They find creative solutions to their problems. And, even if they go to bed crying to God, “it’s all falling apart. I can’t go on. It’s too much for me. This isn’t what I thought it would be. This is too much, too hard. I’m not strong enough. I quit”, they wake up the next morning and do it all over again, pushing on.
They let go of the toxic influences. They work through problems. They change how they view things. And they keep moving forward, believing something will give at some point.
And, all of that is about resiliency.
So, if you’ve begun something new: a business, a ministry, a marriage, you’re becoming a parent, now is the time to look into yourself. Are you resilient?
When things get hard, do you walk away, shut down, give up?
Or, do you wake up after threatening to quit & keep going? Do you apologize when you need to, learn from others, learn from yourself, and creatively fix the broken? Do you seek solutions, and trust that even small steps in the right direction each day are progress?
Because, if you are starting something new, like a business, a ministry, or a marriage, now is the time to discover the resilience in you or to learn from someone who is resilient how to be resilient, growing the quality in you.
If you don’t, I’m afraid these endeavors will crush you. They are not to be taken lightly; they are not easy. They will present you with soul crushing obstacles, disappointment, and more. If resiliency is not a quality you have, this will break your spirit.
So, I encourage you, it is my belief that most of us have resilience in us that can be cultivated, even if we don’t think it comes naturally. I may not be with the majority, but I believe it can be learned. So, I encourage you to find a mentor who can walk through any of these endeavors with you, so you don’t have to go it alone. Rely on their resilience until you have some of your own.
And, if you are already naturally resilient, tap into it. Remember it. And, the morning after an incident when you threaten to quit or walk away, wake up & try it all over again.
Before long, you will see that you can overcome the obstacles, you can carry on, and you can succeed: in ministry, in business, in marriage.
If you want to grow your resilience or you feel the need to cultivate it, and you are interested in reading some books on personal growth, there are two that come to mind that will make a BIG impact on how you interact with others and how you grow. Both are from Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend, and they focus on the boundaries we keep and how we grow. Both how we approach growth and how we keep our boundaries affect our resiliency in day to day life, and I highly recommend these two books: