Dear Resilient One...Dec 08, 2021
Isn’t it funny how, even when you’re grown, children’s books and cartoons can still speak profound truths? There is a scene from the Pixar movie, “The Incredibles,” that motivates me to rise to the occasion every time I see it. Elastagirl, who is married to Mr. Incredible, is floundering in her resolve to operate from her true identity. She is feeling sorry for herself. Her friend Edna gives her a dramatic pep talk, reminding her of who she is, “You are Elastagirl! Pull yourself together…you will remind him of who you are. Go, confront the problem, fight, win!”
Elastagirl was wallowing in her present circumstances, but Edna reminds her of who she is, what she is capable of, and the necessity to deal with her problem instead of avoiding it. This is an opportunity for Elastagirl to demonstrate resilience.
Merriam Webster defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again something bad happens; the ability of something to return to it original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.”
When life doles out hardship, how will you respond? Will your faith stand when the storms come? Will you fight the problem, run from the problem, or wait it out and hope it goes away?
My friend, Niki Hardy, has a fabulous British accent. I imagine that even if I heard her say something rude it would sound pleasant. Over the Voxer app (which is kind of like walkie talkie), Niki read a bedtime story to a group of us grown women. Imagine what it sounded liked as she recounted this classic story, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. In the story a family, enjoying a day out, encounters obstacles on their way, like a deep, cold river, swampy mud, a dark forest, and a whirling snowstorm. With each obstacle they say, “Uh-uh! We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh no! We've got to go through it!” Depending on the obstacle the face, the next line after that describes how it sounds for them to go through it: “Swishy swashy, swishy swashy! Squelch, squelch! Splash, splosh, splash, splosh! Stumble trip, stumble trip! Tiptoe, tiptoe!”
Niki’s voice saying, “swishy, swishy” is pure delight. As she read the story from memory, our ears were tuned in, not just to her engaging accent, but to the greater meaning and comfort offered through this insightful tale. Let me show you what I mean.
Think about a trial in your life right now. I bet it would be easier to go over, under, or around it, but what if instead of fighting it or fleeing from it, you go through it? That doesn’t sound very comforting now does it? Yet, what if you did not have to go through that metaphorical cold river, swampy mud, dark forest, or whirling snowstorm alone? That would make it more manageable right?
In Matthew 1:21-23 we read:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
If you believe in and receive Jesus, then He is with you.
In Isaiah 9:6 we read:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
When your circumstances are crappy or a relationship is strained or you have no idea how to navigate the dark forest or how to scale that mountain in your path, God promises to be with you as you go through it.
What if going though that obstacles is the very thing that will prepare you for what is to come? What if going through that swampy mud helps you develop muscles of compassion and empathy and resilience, so that you are a better friend, a more effective employee, or a more relatable and humble leader?
In Exodus we read about God delivering His people from slavery in Egypt. Miraculously He provided a way out of their oppressive circumstances. Soon after the Israelites encountered the obstacles of the Red Sea before them. The Egyptians pursued them and they were literally stuck between a rock and hard place. They can’t go over it. They can’t go under it. They can’t around it. The only way forward it through it.
But that’s impossible, right?
As my friend, Kate Battistelli says in her book The God Dare, “The impossible is God’s comfort zone.” Scripture confirms Kate’s observations: nothing is impossible with God, nothing is too hard for Him (Luke 1:35-38, Jeremiah 32:12 and 27, Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27).
God made a way through the Red Sea for His people.
It was a greater miracle for Him to part the waters than it was to reroute them another way. Their faith had to be strengthened as they walked on the dry ground path God had created through the deep, with the walls of water to their right and left. Did they see the shadows of massive fish swimming by? A mix of healthy fear and wonder must have been present as they experienced God with them as He take through through this impossible obstacle.
Just when all seemed lost, an opportunity was provided to develop resilience at the deepest level. God knew what was to come, and what was necessary to grow within His people.
So what about you? What if you go through that hard thing, with Emmanuel? Not alone, or on your own strength, but with the One who specializes in the impossible and parting Red Seas. In order to get to the other side, you may need to go through that obstacle.
What is your present obstacle?
Can’t get over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it. You’ll have to go through it. And you’ll be better for it.
Nothing is wasted. It is preparation. It is the beautiful, hard-won fruit of resilience, that you will need for this life.
Ready? Let’s go!
Swishy swashy, swishy, swashy.
1. What would it look like to go through something instead of fighting it or trying to avoid it? Talk to God about your fears or reservations.
2. Does the idea of Jesus being with you, Immanuel, bring comfort to you? Why or why not?
To listen to Katie read this post to you, check out Episode 34 of A Remarkable Thought podcast here!
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