When my son died, part of me died with him. For a long time afterward, just surviving one day at a time seemed like a monumental challenge to me. I desperately searched for some way to go back to the way I used to be. The problem was, that woman no longer existed.
Like countless others before me, I had to slowly rebuild a “new normal” one painful step at a time. It took me nearly five years of fruitless struggle to figure out how. Now that I know what I didn’t know back then, I want to share it with as many people as possible.
It turns out, there’s a word for finding a new normal. We call it resiliency.
If we could have it our way, most of us would choose to avoid the rougher parts of life that require us to be resilient in the first place. But that’s not how life works.
In fact, in His infinite wisdom, God uses such difficulties to strengthen us. Soldiers wouldn’t have very effective training if you took all the obstacles off the obstacle course, now would they? Those obstacles are there for a reason . . . to build courage, strength, and skill. Many obstacles we face in life can serve a similar purpose if we are willing to cooperate with the process.
Life is full of situations that knock us off our feet. The race isn’t won by those who never fall. It’s those who keep getting back up who make it all the way to the finish line. That’s why it’s imperative that we learn how to be resilient and pass those skills on to the next generation.
So let’s jump into the top 5 resilient life hacks to overcome adversity, persevere through trial, and live victoriously.
What I learned many years ago is that resiliency doesn’t come from just one place. It’s actually the product of several parts working synergistically together.
Over the centuries, different people have identified and described the various components of humanity in a variety of ways. I find the simplest way is to think in terms of spirit, soul, and body (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
The body is the easiest to identify because it’s the physical part of us that we can detect with our senses. It’s what keeps us here on earth.
Our spirit is the part of us that connects us to God’s spirit in a relationship. Our spirit does not die with our body.
The soul is trickier because there are so many ways to define it. Some even use it interchangeably with “spirit” which makes it even more confusing. Your soul is what makes you uniquely you. It’s the sum total of all your thoughts, emotions, and desires. Simply put, the soul is your mind, will, and emotions.
Thinking about ourselves in this way gives us five areas in which we can focus on building strength and thus increasing our resiliency. Basically, it comes down to intentional self-care. I learned the hard way that it is impossible to serve others well if you consistently neglect yourself. Taking good care of what God has entrusted to you (your spirit, soul, and body) is not selfish . . . it’s necessary.
I will go over each one briefly in this post, but I have WAY too much cool stuff to share with you here. No worries, though! This whole website is set up to help you find more information about each of these five areas.
You can click on any of the categories below to see all the posts related to that topic. These options are also listed on the main page of the blog.
Now before we jump in and start focusing on each part separately, there is something critically important that you absolutely must understand. All parts of what make you you are intricately connected. Each one affects the others in countless ways.
The easiest way to explain this is to think about what happens when you get scared. Fear is an emotion, but it’s based on your thoughts about the situation you’re facing. I used to occasionally hear strange noises at night and I simply attributed it to our cat and brushed it off. But after our cat passed away, I got much more nervous about strange noises at night simply because I no longer had a convenient explanation. It wasn’t the sounds that made me anxious, but what I thought might possibly be lurking behind those sounds.
When you feel fear, what happens to your body? Your heart races, palms sweat, hair stands on end. You might feel a little sick to your stomach. All your senses are on high alert and your body is prepared to spring into action. In fact, there are many documented cases where people developed nearly super-human strength for a brief moment in a crisis. It’s obvious that our emotions and bodies are linked.
This concept works in reverse also. What do people tell you to do when your scared, angry, or extremely upset? Take a deep breath! Why? It helps calm your body down which in turn calms your mind and emotions down. There is an intricate biological explanation for this that involves minuscule synchronized orchestras of hormones, neurotransmitters, and other chemistry, but I won’t go into all that right now.
So what about your willpower in a frightening situation? For some, the will to survive or rescue or defend is overpowering and keeps a person going against all odds. Other people in other situations freeze or shut down, unable to move in any direction.
Of course, we can’t neglect the spirit. If you are in tune with God (and probably even if you aren’t!) you will more than likely have the sudden urge to pray and cry out for help when you are frightened. Or perhaps, you already saught God’s peace and were, therefore, able to remain calm and unflustered because it was, in fact, just the cat after all.
Now that you have a little insight into how these areas work together and affect one another at dizzying speeds, let’s examine each one separately.
We’re starting with the spirit first because it’s the most important. It is the one that trumps all the others. If you can only work on one area, START HERE!
A strong spirit is one that is connected closely to God’s spirit. You can’t manufacture peace, grace, and strength in your own life apart from Christ any more than a branch severed from an apple tree can produce apples. It just won’t happen.You can’t manufacture peace, grace, and strength in your own life apart from Christ any more than a branch severed from an apple tree can produce apples. It just won’t happen. (John 15:4) #remaininme Click To Tweet
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If you want to build a stronger connection to God, then being deliberate about spending time with Him daily and consistently is what you need. You can’t have an intimate relationship with someone you never talk to.
Praying is hard. It can be boring. I struggled for years with an unsatisfying prayer life until I created my own prayer journal based on the Lord’s Prayer. You can snag your copy here.
A strong will needs at least three major ingredients.
It’s important to surrender our will to God’s or we’ll always be fighting an uphill battle. He knows what’s best and He loves us more than we love ourselves. I’ve learned it’s best not to argue with Him. Turns out, He actually does know what He’s doing and He’s incredibly good at it. Go figure!
We can’t win a race we don’t start. If you want to get somewhere, you’ve got to get up from the couch first.
But getting up isn’t enough. Because you’re going to get knocked down. You have to remember why you started in the first place so you have the passion to dust off and go again.
Without a strong will, everything else will be harder. Train yourself to get going and not quit.Without a strong will, everything else will be harder. Train yourself to get going and not quit. #nevergiveup #allthingsarepossible Click To Tweet
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A strong mind is grounded in truth. An unstable mind is tossed by winds of uncertainty and confusion stirred by lies designed to undo us. (James 1:5-8)
There is only one source of untainted truth and that is God Himself. Everything else we encounter is some mixture of truth and lies in varying degrees. Fortunately, God had people write down the most important truths for us and then He preserved it so we can still read it today.
You can’t know God personally without talking to Him in prayer and you can’t benefit from His great wisdom if you don’t read His Word. So dust off your Bible and read some every day.
Here’s the simple shortcut to meaningful Bible study. All you need is your Bible and a relationship with God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). I also like to have a pen and paper handly because . . . well, I’m a writer. I don’t actually know what I think about something until I write it down.
What? So what? Now what? It’s easy to remember and apply and also helps you mine God’s Word for treasure that you can actually use.
In order to be resilient, you have to know when the world’s lying to you. It was such a revelation to me when I realized I didn’t have to let myself be beaten up by my own thoughts.
Just because you think something, doesn’t mean it true. Learn to think about what you’re thinking about and reject the lies.Just because you think something, doesn’t mean it true. Learn to think about what you’re thinking about and reject the lies. #truth Click To Tweet
You are God’s Beloved Treasure! Don’t believe any lie that tries to tell you differently, no matter what the source is. That’s not God’s voice telling you that you’ll never be good enough.
Tell that playlist to shut up! Tune into God’s heart and listen instead to Him as He rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17), not because of who you are or what you’ve done, but because who He is and He’s done to prove His love to you (John 3:16).
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Biologically, our heart pumps blood around the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients and take out the trash, but metaphorically, we associate it with our feelings and emotions.
But the ancients actually had a more accurate (though less pleasant) description. The NIV translation of 1 John 3:17 uses the word “pity” to describe feeling the desire to help someone in need. The King James version uses language more similar to the original and speaks of having the “bowels of compassion” for our brothers and sisters.
Personally, I’m glad the word usage has morphed over time. I would not be able to tell someone that my bowels had compassion for them with a straight face! But if you stop and think about where we “feel” most of our emotions, it’s actually in the gut.
In fact, the gut is sometimes referred to as the “second brain” because there are more neurons in your gut than there are in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system! Wowza!
All that to say, “a strong heart”, as I am using it here, has little to do with cardiovascular performance. It’s a euphemism, not biology.
By “strong heart”, I mean what some refer to as emotional intelligence or the capacity to be aware of, control, and communicate one’s feelings. Also, sometimes, it’s just plain maturity. Children don’t have a solid understanding or control of their emotions because they lack the training and experience. But if you’re old enough to be reading this, you have no excuse!
Our emotional skills affect every relationship we have and color every situation we encounter. Our feelings often whisper quietly to us just beneath our conscious thought and sometimes they explode like a volcano that waited to long to let a little steam out.
Emotions can be tricky, complicated, and even deceitful (Jerimiah 17:9) but if you can only absorb one thing, let it be this:
Gratitude is the mother of joy.
If you spend time each day to call to mind everything for which you are thankful, every blessing from above, no matter how small; if you take nothing for granted, but appreciate all of it. If you can learn to rejoice in Jesus regardless of the storm that rages around you, every other emotion in your life will be brought into perspective.
Go ahead. I dare you. Try it!
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Christians in Western cultures have a tendency to discount the importance of the body and the effect it has on the other systems. Eastern religions tend to have a more integrated approach with regard to the body, soul, and spirit. As a result, Asian populations think of food in terms of medicine and nourishment to a greater extent than your average Westerner.
When we think about our bodies, we get all hung up on outward appearances, but that’s largely a distraction. Our bodies are important because of their purpose. Think about function over fashion. Is your body healthy enough to do what God is calling you to do with this one life you’ve been given?
Our bodies are important. They keep us here on Earth. A physical body enables us to serve others for the glory of God. Keeping our bodies strong and vigorous opens up greater opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others.
By and large, we know what we need to do to keep our bodies active and healthy. We just don’t want to do it. So, again, motivation and perseverance are key. WHY do you want to stay healthy?
Personally, I have just come through a rough year of struggling with an unnamed autoimmune storm followed by a major car accident. It’s been a tough year for my body. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve had to start over a lot.
I’m called to be a homeschool mom and a writer. I don’t feel like doing either one when my body aches, my eczema flares, or my fatigue lays me flat. I’m motivated to help my body heal because I’m not done living, or loving, or serving yet. I want to regain mobility, energy, and function so I can do everything God calls me to do. What about you?
I divide my fitness priorities into 5 categories. I call these my Stand Strong Fitness Plan. I plan to write separate posts on each topic and discuss them more in-depth in my book, UNDAUNTED: Your Battle Plan for Victorious Living.
Which area do you struggle with most?
Contact me here or jot a note in the comments. I’d love to help!
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These are the top 5 hacks to build a resilient life to overcome adversity, persevere through trial, and live victoriously. Now it’s your turn! Which of these 5 areas do you know you need to build up? Do you need help deciding or knowing what to do next? I’ve got you covered!
You can download this 2-page pdf to help you get started building your resiliency today! Just enter your email below and I’ll send it right to you.
I’ve used this very guide to teach lessons to youth groups and other group lessons. You can too! Got any questions? Contact me here and I’m happy to help as able.
Who do you know that could benefit from this information?
Will you please share this with them today?
How I wish that someone could have told me this when I was struggling!
I would have avoided years of pain and depression if I had known this sooner.