Resilient. A word fraught with deep meaning and much complexity. For me, it signifies that one is faced with challenge and is able to withstand. It is about weathering the storm. Withstanding the pressure. Rising after the fall.
It is how I feel most of the time, if I were being truthful.
I often think I am unduly faced with challenge, but I do realize this is a matter of perspective. My level of resilience is based on my perspective: how I view the situation determines its magnitude of challenge.
Take today, for instance. Faced with some unplanned-for work changes, that will impact my life and family, I experienced a variety of responses to the challenge before settling on a feeling of peace. This is not usual for me. But I will say that the varied degrees of response (stages of grief?) required varying degrees of resilience.
The whole process stretched me. For the better.
One aspect of my growth, as it concerns resilience (that continually is challenged, I might add) are the many targeted and painful situations and challenges that seemingly come from nowhere, affecting my fragile and tender heart. Like other hearts I’ve known, my own little one has been shredded and thrown to the wind on many occasions. Some people are really adept at collecting the wayward pieces and re-configuring them into some manageable semblance of what they formerly represented. But not me. I am just not good at this. Every time someone takes a shot at my heart, I lose a piece of it. It’s not that it gets smaller. Nor lesser. Just more delicate and vulnerable.
Like a square of re-purposed fabric that has been hemmed and re-hemmed (cut and resewn) for different uses and desires.
For people finding themselves in my situation, trust is a real issue. We struggle with letting anyone near our tender hearts, lest they damage them. We see everyone as a potential attacker.
Everyone is suspect.
This is no way to live. And this belief in imminent trouble and impending doom runs the opposite course to expanding growth of resilience. To be resilient is to be able to adapt. To be able to make something beautiful and useful out of what is difficult and rigid. To be able to think around the problem. To be able to think not just outside the box, but away from the box. Far, far away, at times.
This is the power of resilience.
As a writer, I have considered that I might have already missed an opportunity to develop my voice. But then again, I have missed out on nothing if I can take what I have and make it work for me.
I encounter children (in my work as a coach) who tell me they do not believe in themselves. Recently, a little guy with the dearest face and sweetest little ‘sputtery’ voice, due to a slight lisp, told me through tears that he could not write—that he was not a writer. I wanted to take that little face in my hands and impart a power through my fingers into his body—some extraordinary force flowing from me, through to him—that would make him believe and know he was everything he thought he was not.
I know I gave everything I could give that day, so as to convince him. And it took some real ‘giving’, because he was not easy to convince. Which saddens me, for he has already bought the lie that he can’t.
But I will say this: in time (because changing core values and beliefs about ourselves—even in 6 year-olds, requires time and energy), he did eventually believe. He believed! And so, too, did I— once again submitting my heart and soul to the subtle power of resilience.
Led by the resilience of a believing child.
What is it we want people (children) to leave this life knowing? I would contend that it is this. That they did all they could… to be all they were meant to be. We, as a collaborative effort and tour de force, cannot accomplish this goal without a steady supply of determined resolve—it is the persistence I spoke of last night, that must rise to the surface.
What I think and know is that it is not how many time we fall that is the measure of the challenge: it is rather how often we rise back up. It’s about bouncing back, ready and determined to face the giant. Able to take the resources at my disposal and use them for a greater good. This is what determines one’s resilience.
Resilience is the glue that puts the heart back together.