I’ve always wanted to be counted among The Resilient. The ones who can emerge from the rubble of disappointment with not much a look back; brushing off their knees and tending their wounds only to be able to keep marching forward less the weight of regret or guilt. Without the baggage of fear or anxiety over wether they’ve done the right thing. Eyes forward, heart steady, feet sure.
The topic of psychological and spiritual resilience is one of great interest to me. Why is it that some can face great and immense heartbreak and yet rise up in faith and in brave opposition to wayward authority? What fire is in them that they refuse to let be extinguished? I confess that I envy it. What makes one get back up again? And again and again and again…
Could it be that they have a sense of having nothing to lose? Malcolm Gladwell asserts this notion in his book “David and Goliath” He, based on extensive research, says that it is often the marginal and the damaged, not the privileged and fortunate who are sometimes able to take great risks for the good purpose of producing what is important in this world.
Gladwell writes of the Huguenot pastor Andre Trocme whose ministry took place during WW2. When Andre was ten years old, he was in a car accident that claimed the life of his beloved mother. He went on to save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of Jewish refugees during the war.
He wrote of his mother:
“If I have sinned so much, if I have been, since then, so solitary, if my soul has taken such a swirling and solitary movement, if I have doubted everything, if I have been a fatalist, and have been a pessimistic child who awaits death every day, and who almost seeks it out, if I have opened myself slowly and late to happiness, and if I am still a somber man, incapable of laughing whole-heartedly, it is because you left me that June 24th upon that road.
But if I have believed in eternal realities…if I have thrust myself toward them, it is also because I was alone, because you were no longer there to be my God, to fill my heart with your abundant and dominating life.”
Could it be that in order to be so courageous like Trocme, that something has to die; be it within you or outside of you? Be it self-preservation or losing a hero, a great dream crushed or tragedy unfair and unspeakable. Something dies and you have nothing left to stand on but the God of all time. He who has been and still is unshakable and eternal, He who will not be moved and, if we allow it, could place in us an eternal hope and the heart to acknowledge that this bleeding soul has already lost that of greatest worth on this earth and that nothing else can hurt so much as that loss.
If I can walk away with some piece of this resilience, each day grasping even a small piece of this solid anchor, I’d be grateful. If this means making a decision and walking in it sure and straight, not questioning wether or not I did the right thing in order to appease my conscience or to gain the ever elusive approval of humans-but to simply keep walking courageously toward light, not allowing defeat to swallow me up. If resilience keeps my head from turning this way and that, buffeted by unnumbered distractions and options-I’d be a joyful soul. If I could know that there is no perfect decision while my feet walk this planet; that all is sin-stained and incomplete but there are still decisions to be made that fear cannot dictate. If I can do any of this, if any steadfastness lies within me, if there’s any hope of me joining the ranks of the resilient, it is not of my own conjuring but of Christ’s work in me.