The ability to yield, to bend, to give way, to accommodate, he said, was sometimes a source of strength in men as well as in wood, so long as it was helmed by inner resolve and by principle. Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (p. 215). Penguin Publishing Group.
Resiliency–the ability to bounce back. We all need to learn how to do this. The world changes on us. If we can’t bend, we will break. At the same time, we need constants in our lives that keep us on track. These are both essential: continuity and recovery in the face of change. Zolli and Healy put it this way: “we frame resilience in terms borrowed from both ecology and sociology as the capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances,” Zolli, Andrew; Healy, Ann Marie. Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back (p. 7). Free Press.
Bouncing back is not always easy. Sometimes we are the masters of change. While it pushes us in new directions, we are responsible; we are the instigators. It makes it easier. Other times, change is forced on us. When this is true we need to develop personal traits that keep us from snapping or giving up. It’s like the wood necessary to build a boat. Zolli and Healy look for: “adaptation, agility, cooperation, connectivity, and diversity, resilience-thinking can bring us to a different way of being in the world, and to a deeper engagement with it,” Zolli, Andrew; Healy, Ann Marie. Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back (p. 16). Free Press.
I used to worry about the must insignificant of things…Sometimes I still do. But the older I get, I realize how few things are really important. Get enough life under your belt and most things become trivial. Learn how to step back a bit and lots of life and the way people act become quite amusing. The ability to laugh, to shrug it off, to choose battles wisely, helps me to be able to yield and bend.
We also need to be centered, to find true north and stay fixed on that. Eugene Peterson found two aspects of life essential: worship and family. He writes: “In retrospect, I think that the two things that preserved the uniqueness of pastor for me were worship and family. I knew in my gut that the act of worship with the congregation every week was what kept me centered and that it needed to be guarded vigilantly—nothing could be permitted to dilute or distract from it. And I knew that family provided the only hope I had of staying grounded, faithful, personally relational, in the daily practice of sacrificial love,” Peterson, Eugene H. The Pastor: A Memoir . HarperCollins.
How do we stay resilient? How do we bounce back? Be willing to let go. Laugh more. See the big picture. Remember the essentials. And worship and let your family and friends ground you.