Resilience Comes with Practice

Hey there, friend! How are you doing? How are you holding up during this pandemic? As unusual as this time is, surely, this isn’t the first time you have been gut punched by life. You got up and through it the last time, didn’t you? Well, it’s time (for all of us) to press in and get ready to do it again. This week we’re talking about resilience.

I found this quote and it really sums up my theory that resilience comes with practice.

“She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” Beau Taplin

COVID-19 isn’t the first thing in your life to bring hardship and it will not be the last. We have all had losses or trials of some sort. Some were minor struggles that at the time seemed so difficult, like we would never get past them. Others were knee buckling life experiences that we doubted we would survive.

Let’s talk through some of those instances and figure out how to be stronger. Let’s learn to be like Paul who was dragged out of the city, beaten, stoned, and left for dead. Yet, he stood up, brushed the rock dust off, and walked back into town. In fact, it was Paul who wrote:

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT

I do not begin to compare my problems with yours. I offer my story to illustrate some scenarios that allow you to reflect on your own story of resilience. As you look back on your life, try to recognize the strength you gained as you arose from the ashes.

I grew up in a home that was physically and mentally abusive. My mother tried her best to protect me and my younger sister, yet she was no match for the monster my father would become when he went on a rampage. I didn’t understand it as a child, but my mom would egg him on until he blew. The beatings would soon follow.

I used to think if she would just keep quiet and try to be as nice as possible to him, we would get through this without him busting her lip or leaving me with bodily bruises or welts up and down my legs. Oddly enough, and thankfully, the outbursts always ended with either mom or me. Though my sister was fortunate enough to escape the physical abuse, she most certainly experienced the dysfunction within our family.

I now know as a grown woman, that my mother could feel the destruction coming. She had learned through the years how to read the storm. She knew at the very least if she could provoke the eruption, she had control of the timing and could hopefully minimize the damage. I know you’re thinking: “Why did she stay?”

It was a time in our history when women stayed. Divorce, regardless of the reason, was frowned upon and like most abusive partners, my father had destroyed my mother’s confidence. She doubted her ability to make it on her own and raise two daughters. This is a topic, I could write a book on, but for today, I just wanted to share with you that my mom pushed through this nightmare. There came a day when she was strong enough, resilient enough to leave. And now, she is unstoppable!

If you are thinking: “God doesn’t like divorce” you are right, but He also doesn’t want you to stay in a dangerous relationship either. Please hear me on this. From an adult survivor’s perspective, I can tell you being a child of divorced parents would have been better than living in this environment.

I shared this very intimate and painful part of my history with you because I want to tell you about the day I met Jesus. It was in my bedroom closet! I was hiding there while the screams and banging were getting closer. I was crying but trying my best to stay silent for fear of Dad finding me. My face was buried in a pillow my granny had made for me.

I felt a warmness come over me and knew Jesus was sitting there beside me on the floor in my closet! It was real, I knew it was Him. He wrapped me in His arms, told me I was safe, that He thought I was beautiful, and that He loved me. That was the day when I begin to understand who was truly in control of my life. It was not my earthly father, but my Heavenly one. We talked a lot during those times.

I’m not going to tell you I was never scared again; I was. I still am sometimes! But, always, always –there is a steady confidence that God sees me, that He thinks I’m beautiful, that He loves me, and that He is expecting me to stand up and get moving regardless of the situation.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Having survived the abuse in my childhood, I grew into a strong woman and became a solid foundation for my children. My sister also grew strong, and when she found herself in an abusive marriage, she didn’t hesitate to walk away. Mom, even if she felt weak in the moment, had taught us how to be resilient.

Though a righteous person falls seven times he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruins. Proverbs 26:14 CSB

Let’s fast forward in my story to the day my oldest son called me to tell me my beautiful granddaughter, just hours after birth, was being transferred to the neonatal ICU at the nearest children’s hospital due to a very serious congenital heart defect. His voice was trembling as he tried to get the words out. Instantly, my knees buckled. I couldn’t bear the weight of the words I was hearing, and I hit the floor.

I pleaded with the Lord to let me bear the agony of the situation, not my child. I kept thinking if only my own child had been the one to have this diagnosis, then it would be me facing this life changing event, not my kid. But God! He spoke in that moment and clearly told me to get up off the floor and go do what He had equipped me to do.

See, God had given me the gifts of nurturing and caretaking, and I had pursued a career in ICU nursing. Although my experience was with adults and not children, my background helped me to understand the mountain my son and his family were facing. With the knowledge I had, I felt I was able to be of some comfort to my son and his wife when they needed me the most. They knew they could trust me and that I would do whatever was in my power to help. In this case, it was to pray and sometimes interpret all the medical jargon!

Funny thing is, I realized while writing this, that God knew long before my granddaughter’s birth the needs my family would have that day and that He had prepared me to accomplish this special task.

My granddaughter would grow into a child, undergoing two open heart surgeries. At the time of her last surgery, she showed a resilience and strength much larger than her eight years of life here on this planet. Somehow, as overwhelming as that last surgery felt, I knew deep down that God was in control.  My granddaughter confirmed it as she waited to go back to the surgical ward, saying “Jesus went to the cross for me. All I have to do is heal from this surgery.”

She knew that God’s plans would not be thwarted by this surgery and it was up to her to get through it. It humbled me that this little child held such reverence for the Lord. Today, she is a typical 16-year-old girl that loves Jesus.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” Psalm 37:23-24 ESV states this: “Christians keep bouncing back. The key to resiliency is faith in the Lord.”

That is the key isn’t it? To trust that the Lord is in control. Faith in God allows us to know that He alone sees the end of the story. It’s our job to just keep pushing, and when we fall to get back up and keep moving forward. In doing so, we build up incredible strength and resilience which will allow us to finish the mission He has set before us.

Written by Rhonda Carlsen

Dear reader, if you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please reach out to one of these organizations today:

Prevent Child Abuse Virginia ….. 1-800-552-7096

Help and Emergency Response (HER) ….. 757-485-3384 or 485-1445 (24 hours a day/7 days a week)

Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline ….. 1-800-838-8238

Your local YWCA

Note all scripture is taken from the NLT, ESV, or the CSB.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.



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