What gives us resilience? That is, the strength to recover from life’s shocks and obstacles and keep going in confident hope?
As I was reflecting on this topic, I recalled a short sentence I’d heard years ago on ABC radio. I think it was a psychiatrist who said, ‘Resilience comes from having someone to love, someone to love you, something to do and something to hope for.’
I think that sums the matter up quite well, but there’s some further examination we could do to understand it more fully.
It seems our resilience grows out of many factors including:
In the light of what I have just outlined, I have to say I am blessed with a caring husband and family. With my sons I still share caring, trusting relationships. I have lots of other people to care about: my Uniting Church friends, members of several seniors’ groups; and old friends and relatives I don’t see often but do care for. With increasing age has come an increasing awareness of the importance of being supported by others and giving support in return to strengthen my capacity to cope with life’s difficulties.
As for something to do, I have no trouble finding worthwhile activities. Being part of this group and getting to know you and being interested in you is a start. Pastoral care for my church is another satisfying outreach. Sharing ideas, writing, thinking, meditating, writing prayers, reading, using my computer to communicate are all worthwhile to me. I have other satisfying domestic and leisure activities as well.
Finally, something to hope for…. In my early adult years, I had all the usual hopes one had as a young wife and mother in our society of the 1960’s - a happy family, a secure home, a garden, social life, studying for my degree and eventually, satisfying employment - but when my marriage relationship broke down, I met one upheaval after another. Shortly after our divorce, my former husband died of a heart attack at 44. That was the beginning of big problems - fatherless teenage sons, much weakened health, rejection by former family and friends and the necessity of building a whole new life in a hurry. In desperation, I went to my local church - and I hadn’t been a church member since my teen years - to see if I could find solace and new meaning there. If I couldn’t, then I would try psychiatry to help get myself together.
But at that point, I was ready to hear the Gospel with adult understanding. With tears of grief mixed with hope, I kept going. I got into Bible study and prayer groups. I started a home group. My minister suggested I think of ministry for myself. I was finally ordained. In the Gospel story of God with us and the life we can lead following the path of Jesus - I now placed my faith and trust.
Thus, it’s on these foundations of love shared, work to do and hope for the future that any resilience I have rests. I fail to meet every single challenge that comes my way, but I’m now 81 and so far, so good . . .
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.