Think about a difficult day in your life that marked a significant before and after. After this day, things were never quite the same. Maybe you didn’t get the job offer or acceptance letter you’d been praying for. Maybe you lost someone close to you or faced a painful rejection. For me, it was the day doctors told me that my body was shutting down and there was nothing more that they knew to do.
I was fortunate enough to find a doctor who helped save my life, but I spent years in and out of a hospital praying and hoping for restored health. I’d gone from a healthy, active teenager to a barely functioning young adult. At my worst, I was confined to a wheelchair because of a dysfunctional nervous system and debilitating pain. I also passed out and seized dozens of times a day. It would take a decade before my body fully recovered.
Do you find yourself struggling to make it through another day? Are you asking yourself, “How am I going to find the strength to get through this?” Resilience takes a lot of courage and faith. But you aren’t on your walk alone. To encourage you in your journey, here are five habits that helped me become a more resilient person.
Habit #1: Tap into Community
Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Being more resilient is possible when you have people who surround, pray for, and support you during the worst times. These people can put their faith in action and help make it possible for you to face life’s storms.
Church is the perfect place to grow with a deep, faithful community. LifeGroups (as well as other small groups of family and friends) allow us to engage with people with different experiences who can lend us perspective when we go through something difficult. Trying different groups to find the right match is an important part of the process. But when you find your community, lean into them for support when you’re struggling, and you can bless them with your words and actions, too!
God used advocates in my life to push me forward. It came in the form of parents who refused to give up on their daughter, a pastor who continued to see gifts and talents in me, a church family that provided a great deal of comfort, friends who loved me so well, and teachers who invited me to keep writing and learning. God used the gift of modern medicine and a wise doctor to save my life.
He worked through the people who held my hand as I cried out in pain and doubt by offering me grace and space to ask questions. He spurred my cheerleaders who made every effort to help me maintain a “normal” life and never allowed their vision of me to be defined by my illness. God offered me the gift of hope through my community. I believe He can move in your community, too.
Habit #2: Seek Wise Counsel
When we feel weak, it’s difficult to do our best thinking. Seeking wisdom from those we trust and who have our best interest at heart can point us in the right direction.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20 ESV
The kind of counsel you seek may vary. You might prefer something less formal, like seeking advice from a friend. You might have a conversation with God and ask Him to provide wisdom through Scripture or other people. Or you may want to speak to someone who counsels people professionally.
When you experience traumatic events, it often takes some time for your body to come out of survival mode. I was eight years into my healing process when I began to recognize all that I’d gone through and how it impacted my life. I had to trust my body to do its job again and let go of the habits I’d put in place to protect myself out of pure fear.
For six months, I did the hard work of healing with a counselor, processing what I’d endured when I was severely ill. I came out of the experience freed from a great deal of pain. I want the same for you.
Habit #3: Pray for the Strength Only Possible Through Faith
When the Apostle Paul wrote to churches to encourage them in difficult times, he affirmed God’s faithfulness. Because of God’s faithfulness to us, we can be more resilient no matter what comes our way. On our own, we are not always prepared or equipped to walk through hard things. But we can endure difficult seasons because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us as believers. The Spirit works in our lives to give us a deeper kind of strength because God is faithful to us. God allows circumstances in our lives that feel insurmountable and invites us to dig into greater trust and faith because no challenge is too great for Him.
Praying is having an honest conversation with God. You don’t have to have the perfect words. Talking to God is like talking to a friend. And the more you talk to a friend, the closer you get to them. God wants to know what’s happening in your life from you. He knows your heart and circumstances but wants you to pray to Him for strength because He wants you to trust Him to bring you through your experiences as a stronger, more Christ-like individual.
When I was sick, I didn’t always know what to say to God. I asked friends and a pastor to pray with me for strength when I was sad or angry. But when I did pray to God, I knew I had to rely on Him to help me through my health battles. Week after week, God showed up in my life by sustaining me and giving me hope for a future ahead.
Habit #4: Ask Honest Questions
Asking God honest questions allows our relationship with Him to be genuine and authentic. A relationship with God that is authentic builds trust. And when we learn to trust that God will bring us through whatever our circumstances may be, our faith is strengthened and we become more resilient.
When we talk to God, it’s okay to be honest about what we’re thinking and how we feel. It’s okay to ask questions that don’t have easy answers. We can invite others into our conversations, too. Trusted friends, family members, teachers, and pastors can help us investigate our questions using new perspectives. But in our conversations with God or others, as best we can, we should remember who God is declared to be in Scripture, not how we feel about God in a given moment.
I found that by asking hard questions, I was able to discover more about God’s nature. One of my biggest questions for God was, how can You allow suffering? After a lot of wrestling, I realized that God doesn’t desire suffering in our world. He wants each of us to have a full life built on a relationship with Him. God is creating a world without sorrow, pain, and suffering. God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place so that suffering and death would one day cease to exist. Knowing that God is actively working to bring an end to suffering helps me know that God’s nature and character are good.
Habit #5: Continue to Hope
Resilient people never stop hoping. They believe that even when circumstances don’t appear a certain way or we don’t feel like it, God is still working.
God made a way for us to have peace with Him through his Son, Jesus. We find hope in eternal peace with God. But we don’t have to wait to have hope or peace. We can have them the minute we believe in what Jesus accomplished in His death and resurrection.
Jesus’ presence in my life brought me hope and comfort when I was struggling. As I was waiting for answers, with time I began to see God actively working in ways that I could never have imagined. My faith and relationship with God deepened. I have a clearer understanding of God and His nature. I have peace. And the same peace that I have is available to you.
I don’t know what you are carrying at this moment. I don’t know the anxiety, worry, and stress that you feel on a daily basis. But if you know or want to know the living, breathing God, there is an invitation of hope waiting for you. The same God who brought plans of a hope and a future for Israel brings plans of a hope and a future to you, too.
Take some time to have a conversation with God. Ask Him to help you process your significant befores and afters. And watch how God’s Spirit will work in your life as you become a more and more resilient example of Jesus’ healing power.