Hope and the future

Yesterday I mentioned a friend who is extremely resilient and provided an example of how is resilience shows up for him and the rest of us. He is, I suspect, temperamentally well-suited for resilience. This is not to discredit his resiliency in any way, because resiliency isn’t a temperament trait, it is a skill set. But knowing this man, I think it is a skill set he took to like a duck to water.

However, I am NOT temperamentally suited for resilience. But by dingy I practice it. It is not natural, nor am I as skilled as my friend, but I personally believe that as faithful people, we are called to resilience.

Whether or not we are working on new resolutions in this fresh, new year, resilience is a crucial life skill. It is the difference between thriving and wasting away. Too often we believe our circumstances drive our thriving - that’s not true. It is resilience.

Notice that I particularly called on faithful people to practice resilience. I’m not talking pie-in-the-sky, God blesses me because he loves me, and every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before thinking. That is not resilience. It’s a kind of spiritual languaging that some find comforting, and if you do - awesome. But I do not. It doesn’t fit the facts of my life. I believe that the facts and our faith align.

Does God bless his people? Yes. Do God’s people suffer? Yes. Resilient people can believe both those things at the same time without poking their eye out with a pencil, because resilient people do not NEED everything to go well for them in order to feel loved by God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV

Hope is a gift not a guarantee. Whether or not we fulfill our resolutions in 2019, our hope does not rest in getting what we want. My friends the Ryans wrote this on page 242 of “Rooted In God’s Love” - “We need to remind ourselves daily that we do not serve the god-of-relentless-cheerfulness, or the god-of-naivete, or the god-of-blind-optimism. We serve the God of Hope. God is hope-full and loves to share hope-full-ness with us. We can come to God with our fear, doubt and despair and God will give good gifts to us. When all other reasons for hope fail us, we can return to the God for Hope because God is greater than our disappointment, greater than our failure, greater than the problems and conflicts in our hearts and our homes and our communities and our world.”

Resilient people can teach us

Resilient people have shared characteristics - so say the experts in these matters. One of those shared capacities is confidence that no matter what is happening in the present, tomorrow will be different.

This morning I had an early meeting with a group of folks, one of whom had just received terrible news about his business. It COULD be potentially very bad for his bottom line. Here is what he did about it:

1. He showed up for his obligation even though we all would have understood if he bailed. But he didn’t bail. He showed up because this is what resilient people do. They show up.

2. He named the problem. He analyzed it. He questioned the issues and was curious about the findings. It was clear that he would look into this issue further. He will not just assume that the bad news is the truth.

3. He ended his conversation by saying, “Either way, we will figure it out.”

Resilient people have an innate sense that things will work out. They understand that bad news isn’t the only news, and that a bad day is one day. It doesn’t translate into a bad life or even a bad week.

Can you find that capacity in yourself? If not, how could you acquire that skill?

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Resiliency Limits

Resiliency is not a universally helpful concept.  Perseverance is not always our best move.  Some objectives are not realistic and should be ditched as goals.  Sometimes resiliency means being realistic and giving up.  I do not like saying this, but it is true.

In my lifetime I have had a couple of humongous disappointments.  Both of which are totally predictable based on how I see the world.  I love collaboration and community building in a world that often prefers to compare and compete.  I idealize the notion that if we all work together our outcomes will immediately improve because a bunch of heads thinking, feeling and doing together is better than a solo operator any day of the week.

However.  This has blinded me to the fact that this is not everyone’s reality.  In both of my most life-altering disappointments I can see how my eagerness to collaborate over-rode my instincts about my collaborators.  I hung in too long in the relationships when I should have acknowledged that my goals were completely NOT the goals of others.  This does not make others bad and me good or vice versa; it means we are different.  It is only a problem when one or the other of us (me in this case) expects someone to be someone they are not.

I was wrong.  I unconsciously asked others to play by my rules.  I pushed.  I pulled.  I moved away from my own core value of collaboration and tried to control the situation.  This is all on me.  It cost me and others who love me a lot of time, energy, and angst.  

Today, I am more cautious about this collaboration mindset.  I do not just assume that if you say you want to play nice in the sandbox that I need to go out and get us a bigger box and more sand.  I am learning that resiliency has limits.  These limits are naturally occurring if we pay attention to all 11 skill sets associated with resiliency.  If I had paid more attention to self-care, and less attention to this inclination to build a bigger sandbox, then I would not have experienced the heartbreak I did.  BUT I also would not have learned what I learned either - so you see?  

We end up back at resilience - with limits.  Because learning from our mistakes is what?  Resilient behavior!!