Resilience means living well with ambiguity; of having learned to live with conflicting ideas. Resilience, in this way, can refer to our tolerance for the wavering extremes of situational experience – the steadier we are emotionally, the more resilient we are.
This is what Paul meant when he said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11)
Paul must have meant that he could deal with both blessed and cursed situations – that neither could dissuade him from the stable foundational underpinnings of his faith. Pride would not be a problem when things were going well. And despair would not be a problem when things were not going so well.
Nobody truly puts themselves in harm’s way and claims a special portion of wisdom, unless they do so selflessly for others. Likewise, those with emotional resilience will not willingly put themselves on the frontline without reason, but if they are called by God to represent a good cause they will front up and fight the good fight.
As a person deals patiently with stress and ambiguity, bearing both consternation and confusion gallantly, they show great emotional resilience.
It isn’t until we are tested that we know the true make up of our character. And the truth is many times we will fail the tests that are brought our way. Fortunately, God provides us many second chances to exemplify resilience.
We cannot judge the resilience of a person until they have suffered. It is no blessing to anyone to have avoided suffering. It is the putting off of the inevitable. Inevitably we will all suffer, and it is only through the bearing of that suffering that we are to grow in resilience because of the compassion nurtured within.
Emotional resilience is the compensation of God for the suffering we have entered into with an attitude aligned to God’s will. God does not will for us to suffer, but he does will our stately response. When we respond faithfully to God’s faithfulness to see us right, we stand out of the way of cursing, and we allow God to bless us because we have stood out of the way of cursing the injustice.
Emotional resilience doesn’t come to the fore until a genuine test comes. It’s a break-glass-in-an-emergency faculty. We know we are made of the right stuff when we do the right stuff in the time of trouble. Resilience, therefore, was made for the storm and only in a storm does it vindicate us.
Whoever handles significant ambiguity fluidly has emotional resilience.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.