17 Apr Bouncing Back from Hard Times
The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
Dear Christian Radio,
I loved Winnie the Pooh as a child. To be honest, I still do…and although I loved that snuggly little Pooh-bear, I was fascinated with Tigger. Bouncing around the 100-acre wood without a care, he was a stark contrast to Pooh and the other animals, particularly Eeyore. Whatever situation those critters were in, Tigger never lost his optimism. He was always cheerful and had complete confidence in himself.
I’m a natural Tigger. Most of the time, this bodes well for me – I’m the merchant, the cheerleader, and the eternal optimist. Which is why hard times tend to hit me even harder.
If you’ve ever read My One Word by Rachel Olsen and Mike Ashcraft (If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, as it will change your way of thinking–in a good way, of course.) the gist is this: rather than trying to change everything about yourself, choose one word and make that one word the focus of your thoughts and actions. Carefully selected and prayed over, that one word tends to define your year—which is how the word “resilience” came to define 2018 for me.
The ability to bounce back from hard times is known as resilience. Resilience is highly valuable and a little mysterious. Resilient people feel distressed just like anyone else, but even in the darkest times, they manage to boost their spirits with positive thoughts and prayer. While it used to be considered a special trait enjoyed by a few extraordinary people, we all have the ability to bounce back. “That’s the word for me!” I thought.
I had no idea how much bouncing I would have to do when I chose that word in January of last year. The previous October, my husband had foot surgery. Whereas the surgery was successful, he had developed a dangerous blood clot that could have resulted in the loss of his foot – or worse, the loss of his life if the clot moved. Doctors were able to bust the clot and we went home the same day, thankful for medical technology and God’s grace.
Four days later, I stood up and noticed pain in my left ankle. Thinking I could walk it out, I walked myself into even more pain, and into a big orthopedic boot. Six weeks later, I had surgery for a ruptured tendon. Post-surgery, I learned that I would not be able to walk for two months. Two months! Tell a Tigger she has to be still for two months – this Tigger quickly became an Eeyore.
My husband and my team at the radio station helped take care of me and I learned that being resilient took more than just a “think positive” approach. I had to learn how to do things differently and how to think differently – and put that into practice daily.
According to The American Psychological Association, we can boost our resilience and bounce back from hard times by practicing the following:
• Make connections. Fostering strong, close relationships with family and friends can help you weather the storms. Stay involved with others through community groups or faith-based organizations.
• Move toward your goals. Even if it’s only a minor step, do one thing today that will help you move forward.
• Stay hopeful. Visualize what you want, rather than worry about what you fear.
• Take care of your body and mind. Engage in enjoyable, relaxing activities and get regular exercise. You’ll be stronger and better able to face the future.
• Rely on yourself. Rather than criticizing yourself relentlessly, trust in your ability to solve problems.
I’m going to add one more here:
• Rely on God. There are numerous verses of scripture that remind us that God is in control and that while bad times are part of life, they do not last. After all, the Bible says, “It came to pass,” not “It came to stay.”
Trust that you will survive whatever it is that you are going through right now. Whether it is personal, professional, or a combination of the two, you will overcome, and you will recover. Hard times will not last forever, even when it feels like it. When things go wrong, the enemy engages our negative mindset to “It’s never going to get better.” Being resilient and relying on God, our wisdom and our experience, that internal dialogue changes to “It will be better.”
Months of physical therapy and daily spiritual therapy have gotten me back to normal (or as normal as I get.) It’s not about being unrealistic or taking a Pollyanna-style approach, but about being realistic and flexible in what and how we think. If we are stressed or down, we can fall into the trap of thinking that everything is our fault, can’t be changed, and trouble will spread to all areas of our life. This makes us feel hopeless and can start a downward spiral towards lower resilience and even depression.
Remember the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle inside?” Last year taught me that. We all have ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, so connect with other people. You will bounce back.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my one word for 2019 is “flourish.”
Dear Christian Radio…
1. “In this world you will have trouble…” it is inevitable that we will all encounter hard times. It’s the second part of this verse from the book of John that Jesus tells us, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
2. Hard times do not last forever. Remember that good things can happen even on the worst days, even if it’s as small as someone bringing you a cup of coffee.
3. Be resilient. Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.