Silence, stillness, solitude

From yesterday: How does a person become brave, or strong, or whatever, such that they can withstand all of the junk life throws at them?

The first attempt to answer this question had to do with establishing a system of loving support and accountability.

The second has to do with finding the confidence to believe that you have a place in this world, that you belong, and that you are worthy of love and respect. This kind of confidence tells us that we have the right to ask those who we are in community with to uphold our dignity. It allows us to set boundaries when our dignity and sense of self are either challenged or at risk.

Where does this confidence come from?

Well, this may be similar to the kind of strength Paul describes in Philippians that comes from God. Again, we ask, how to find it, or access it? I hope others are willing to jump in with their opinions in the comment section because I do not have the perfect or most complete answer to that question, but I believe it starts with the willingness to spend time in silence, stillness, and solitude.

We need to give ourselves the gift of space from distraction, noise, and negativity to simply sit and reflect on our lives and see what rises to the surface. This does not always feel like a gift. If you’re not used to time alone, it can be highly uncomfortable. It feels like something that must be escaped. But, that’s a feeling to resist, and it’s one that is easily overcome with practice. It’s in (healthy) disengagement that we find God and can learn to relax with ourselves and draw comfort from knowing that we are placed here so we can thrive, not so that we can be destroyed. It’s this perspective that allows us the strength, the perspective, the wisdom, and the discernment to discover our true needs and what is “ours to do” in meeting them.

What else does it take to be brave in the face of adversity? Let us know your thoughts.

How to be brave

How does a person become brave, or strong, or whatever, such that they can withstand all of the junk life throws at them? Well, the simple answer based on the past few days is that this is the kind of strength God offers us through faith. I believe that, I really do. But sometimes we still need a little help learning how to access that strength, right?

The first piece is we need a firm grounding in several key relationships where people both allow us to be ourselves and offer us strict accountability when we are not abiding by our chosen “way of seeing.” (Remember, we talk about faith as a “certain way of being based on a certain way of seeing.”).

We need other people in our lives for God to work through. This isn’t to say that God exclusively works through other people, or that He could not just work on us individually, but it helps to offer him multiple opportunities to go to work in our lives. That is one important role others play.

Sometimes in my life I have been the recipient of hardship and not been able to withstand it. I was alone. Other times, the opposite. I was surrounded. Being brave doesn’t mean having more inner resolve, necessarily, though we often think that. It can mean having exterior resolve- we can borrow from the resolve of those who love us.

Endurance and thriving

Yesterday we established that part of experiencing joy, patience, and endurance, as people of faith, is consciously choosing the long-term perspective that God is actively at work to remove hardship. We learn to use this lens to remind ourselves that our hardships are part of a version of creation that is fading away (albeit slowly, too slowly). In this way, we find joy in anticipating the end of God’s work.

But what does that have to do with today? How might we thrive in the present?

First we should ask, what do we mean by thriving? Under what circumstances would you consider yourself to be thriving? Is thriving all about having desirable circumstances? I’d suggest not, because life will never offer totally desirable circumstances. Some things will be desirable, some things won’t be. This is just how life goes.

Thriving is not just about removing negative things from life, but being people who respond to negative events with courage, grace, and dignity. It is about being people who can speak back to the tragedy of life, instead of being people lose their identity in response to suffering, or who become defined by that suffering. What I mean is, it’s possible for life to smack us in the face without losing our sense of who we are. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. That is the essence of thriving. It is the essence of contentment and joy. When Paul says he can do all things through Christ, I believe this is what he means.

How do we become those kinds of people?

I’ll speak on that tomorrow.