Research clearly shows that people who express gratitude, can focus on the things at hand, and are generous in their dealings with others, are far more resilient in a crisis than those who dwell on themselves, their troubles and what could or should have been. When our expectations are met, we may well experience the joy and excitement of that moment. BUT, when our expectations are dashed, then our capacity to cope is very much influenced by what we focus on and whether we remain grateful for what we do have.When my mother had a major stroke in 2001, she effectively lost the use of her whole left side. While she could eventually walk around, she had to have her left leg supported by a brace. Her left arm was useless, and her left eye could not tell her brain what it was seeing. Mum demonstrated a resilience that enabled her to be content and adaptable, despite her handicaps. She made the most of her situation, rather than be pulled down by what she did not have. Recently, she gave me an insight into her perspective when she said,“ Being right handed, I was so grateful that the stroke only affected my left side. I can still do lots of things.”
But, resilience does not mean “I can cope on my own, so I don’t need anyone else”, which can be a recipe for disaster. Rather, it is a recognition that we are all ‘in the same boat’; that we need the support of others; and that our honesty can give others a part to play. When families and communities share their resources and support one another then resilience will increase. But, when ingratitude, selfishness and disputations take over, people’s resilience is seriously undermined.
My mum’s resilience will be sorely tested in the future as she contemplates blindness and the slow decline of my dad into dementia. Sometimes we feel totally inadequate, and find it very hard to deal with what is happening, but the importance of just being there for them – as they were for us – cannot be overstated.
BUT, what do you do when your resilience has reached its limits and you have nothing left?
I have discovered another resilience that comes from trusting in the Lord Jesus who cares for me, and knows everything there is to know about my life. I cannot control everything that happens to me, or avoid all the down-sides of life – including death – but I can confidently put my trust in the Lord who created everything, and will be with me every step of the way. The apostle Peter tells us, “Cast all you cares (anxieties, sins, fears, hurts) upon Him, for He cares for you.” Turn to Him today.Mark Trodd[email protected]