The Art of Resilience - Serenity in Suffering

Though still becoming aquainted, my One Word and I had several encounters over the past few weeks. A bit of a prankster, resilience often travels incognito. Or perhaps God’s sense of humor chose humbling my preconceived ideas through unusual encounters. Either way, learning the art of resilience requires a level of unanticipated self denial.

Unlike my One Word journey with JOY, Resilience feels both strange and familiar at once. Strange like a weird neighbor oddly likeable, but peculiar enough to keep you on your guard. And familiar in an indescribable deja vu kind of way, leaving you wondering where you met previously.

basket of books, plant and copper cup and saucer

Grateful for belonging to the One Word Community, where I connect with fellow One Worders; I also glean ideas for connecting with my special word Friend. Unfortunately, learning the art of resilience seems a bit outside the normal rules of engagement for One Words.

In fact, our fabulous guide, Lisa Burgess, gave us a few ideas for working with our word friends over the past month. She suggested we find ways of SEEING, HEARING, and TOUCHING our words.

At first I saw no avenue for pursuing these ideas with my word. But upon reflection, realized my rigid thought patterns contributed to my difficulty in connecting with my word.

Once I created space for sitting with these ideas, connecting with my word through them became not only enjoyable, but informative.

seeing resilience

Simply writing my word “resilience” on a post-it note and strategically placing it around, chafed against my aesthetic nature and irritated my over-achievement tendencies. In addition, simply painting the word on canvas or on a piece of wood left me uninspired.

Instead, I created cell phone wallpaper for both my personal and work cell phones allowing my word Friend plenty of exposure throughout my day. Seeing the word every time I unlocked my phone, attending to calls and texts reminded me life held changes, challenges and trials.

personal photo of cell phone

The benefit of resilience lessons learned came to my mind every time I saw the word, enabling me to practice pushing through the unexpected hard, failures, and unpredictable of the everyday.

Acquiring wooden letters spelling out my word contributed another fun way of practicing the art of resilience. Manipulating the letters offered the opportunity of making new words from my One Word.

Some of course held no relatedness to my word, but some gave me insight to ways resilience appeared in my life. As an example, the following words came quickly:

  • Rise-yes I fall, fail, and sin. Resilience is the brave which confesses sin, learns from failure and tries again. (1 John 1:9)
  • Risen-yes others and circumstances will humble me, wound me, break me. Resilience uses it for good. (Romans 8:28)
  • Silence-the pause, the breath; listening. Resilience responds rather than reacts. (Psalm 46:10)
  • See– change coming, hardship present. Resilience sees God’s hand in everything. (Romans 8:37)
  • Seen– the longing for validation and hope in suffering. Resilience says I am seen by God. He has the last word. (Romans 8:38-39)
  • Incense-a sweet aroma, especially when broken or crushed. Resilience is the aroma of Christ amid my suffering. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

hearing resilience

Many in the One Word Community found songs with their word Friends in the title or lyrics. Unable to locate a song appropriate for Resilience, at least in the biblical way I desired, I turned to quotes, verses and poems.

Surprised by the sheer number of quotes and verses encompassing the spirit of resilience, I began compiling a notebook. A few of my favorites appear below, along with an untitled poem.

Joy collected over time fuels resilience

Brene Brown

But the human spirit is resilient. God made us so. He gave us the ability to forgive. To leave our past behind. To look forward instead of back.

Elizabeth Smart

 Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.

Gever Tulley

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.

Micah 7:8

Stumbling upon the following untitled poem, resilience communed with my heart in a profound way. While some view resilience as a “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, mentality, resilience whispered a softness learned in surrender.

But not the surrender of giving up; the surrender of submission to the transforming power of suffering in the hand of a sovereign God.

two lanterns hanging

For ears desirous of hearing, resilience spoke of a vision beyond the present; governed neither by circumstance nor suffering.

touching resilience

Stalling for most of the month, my foray into the art of resilience through physical connection took an unusual turn recently.

When deep in thought, I meticulously examine my hands; I know, creepy. Not only creepy, but it often leads to untidy habits like picking at my cuticles or nails. Throw anxiety in the mix and picking leads to biting, which results in sore fingers.

My desperate desire for changing this unhelpful ritual led to the acquistion of a palm sized wooden cross. Now when I turn to musing, or struggle finding just the right word or turn of phrase, I cradle the cross in my hands, feeling its quirky texture in my hands.

personal photos of homemade wooden cross

Recently, as I sat with the cross in my hands, I gazed down and noticed a thin scar on my hand from a jagged wound inflicted many years ago by a broken glass. Setting the cross aside, I ran my finger across the scar, remembering the event, the stitches, the pain.

resilience is my story

Suddenly, other scars came into view; some physical, many emotional. A few small, white and barely visible ones, like the old wound on my hand; sadly a few upon my heart still bled with my touch.

But all spoke my story; each scar shaped the woman I am today.

Defined by resilience, each scar evidenced former pain and suffering, but they also told a story of victory, purpose, and Providence.

Touching and revisiting my scars not only connected me with resilience, it connected my scars with my story. And ultimately, it reminded me of the scarred hands yet writing that same story.

As I gazed back at my hands, there in the midst of my own scars, the wooden cross spoke of His scars and a resilience which defeated death and the grave. A resilience which rises from the ashes of suffering proclaiming eternal victory.

If you enjoyed reading this post, there’s more! Sign up for my weekly newsletters; a little slice of serenity delivered right to your inbox! As my “Thank-you” you will receive my FREE “Attitude of Rest Guide” for signing up!

Editor's Picks