Where does resiliency come from? I don’t know. I’ve read that it comes from a sense of being loved. Early in life, if a child senses that they are loved by at least one person, then they will have some kind of resiliency in the face of suffering.
What about in adulthood? What happens when our resources have run out? What happens when our parents have either died or are not available to us? What if our friends are nowhere to be found? What if we have friends, but our circumstances are too great? No friend could ever fix what is wrong. What if our problem either lies within us or too close to us to adequately represent to another person without sacrificing what little self-respect we have left? How do you find your resiliency in circumstances like these? How do you start to gather momentum in order to change for the better?
I only know one way. Prayer. I know, I know, it sounds so passive. Prayer? To a lot of people prayer might sound like the least effective thing to do. Ever.
It’s not. Prayer accomplishes a great deal in one act. It centers you in on your emotions producing mindfulness. It helps you stop judging yourself and your feelings as either good or bad. Feelings are feelings. They are neither good nor bad. Prayer puts you in a position to ask for help which is often very challenging because so often the help available to us comes with conditions. Prayer allows our inner man to inhale and exhale freely which is vital to physical health. So often when we live in oppressive environments, our inner man is “corseted” and censored, always making his or her responses dependent upon how others react. We are able to remove our bindings during prayer and find relief and release. Prayer also connects us to God and energizes our soul. We can express gratitude, grief, pain, fear, and any other emotion on the spectrum of human feeling during prayer. We can lament. We can scream. We can laugh. We can say nothing. Simple acts can be prayers. Groans. Cries. Tears. Silence. Even joyous smiles when directed upward.
Someone might say that they don’t know how to begin. It feels awkward. How do you pray? Aren’t there rules? Don’t you have to begin with Thanksgiving? Isn’t there an acrostic? When do you confess? Aren’t you supposed to save “supplication” for last? To quote my Swedish grandfather, “P’shaw!” Throw it all out. Prayer is your intimate time with God–when you are alone with Him. This is a primary way that you develop your relationship with Him. There are many books written on prayer, but, ultimately, you get to decide on how to be yourself with God.
Are there good books available? There are. The best? The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament or Jewish Bible. These are a collection of prayers, and they have been translated many, many times. I am fond of this one:
The most famous of the Psalms is Psalm 23, but there are so many more that are equally moving–150 to be exact. They capture what it means to be fully human and fully flawed. They portray us in all our human splendor before God, and God responds to us with compassion. The writers of the Psalms cry out, rejoice, run from life, seek revenge, beat themselves up, wallow, plead, praise and worship, glorify, dream, hide, and rest. We can see ourselves in every prayerful poem. We can use their words to give voice to our hearts and minds. Our circumstances no matter how delightful or terrible can be found in the Psalms.
This is where I turn when I’ve run out of fuel. When I don’t know what to say. When I don’t know how to put words to the contents of my heart. When I feel like I don’t have permission to even try. I allow King David to speak for me. Ever so slowly, I find myself praying his words and my soul is quickened. I feel hope again. I feel renewed. I remember that I can keep going, and that’s resiliency–knowing that you have what it takes to continue onward because you are not going it alone.
You are seen by Someone greater. Someone greater than your pain. Someone greater than your oppressors. Someone greater than your circumstances.
Even if you can only keep going for today. Pray again tomorrow. Strength rises with the sun.
This is how prayer can help you renew your resiliency.
Prayer, too, has carried me during my darkest hours. I am eager to read the book you suggest in this post. When we acknowledge “something greater” (as you mention), great change is possible. Thanks for another great post.