When I was a little girl my favorite thing to do was to jump on a trampoline. Unfortunately, my parents forbid me from participating in this activity due to a life-threatening head injury I had sustained at the age of five. They tried to keep me in a bubble for fear that I would hurt myself again. The injury left me in a coma for two weeks and exposed me to complications that resulted in a permanent loss of hearing in one ear. Left leg paralysis and incontinence were other obstacles resulting from the path of destruction that threatened my life. After the first brain surgery, the medical professionals gave my parents little hope that I would reach the standard intellectual benchmarks, let alone ever be able to leave the hospital bed.
Learning how to walk, talk and coordinate large and fine motor skills caused me to become easily frustrated. I was often defiant as I struggled to tie my shoes, balance on one leg, or make a bracelet. I vividly remember the tears and frustrations for all parties concerned but my team of therapists were amazing; they would not give up.
Recovery found me slowly becoming more adventurous and seeking out the ‘normal’ activities of childhood; although I wasn’t somersaulting off picnic tables anymore, I found my way into participating in ‘safer’ mischief. A few of my cousins lived next door to a lady with a large trampoline. Whenever I visited them, the bouncy object of fun was always close to my mind. Once our parents were well distracted by their own conversation my cousins would whisk me away to the next-door fun. The success of our covert operation would find me jumping barefoot in the middle of the polypropylene material. As I landed it would catch me, stretch and then propel me in the air again. Feeling the vibration of the springs, I was certain of what was coming next; the rush of adrenaline as I bounced through the air was like no other feeling. The older cousins would guard me with all their 9- or 11-year-old capabilities while the younger ones joined in the fun.
Three years after the initial surgery, a second one was scheduled. My mother braided my hair in two long French braids before cutting them off in preparation for the complete shave that would be required. It was supposed to be a simple surgery but was plagued with complications from the beginning as they forgot to bring the medicine that would make me unconscious before I went to the operating room. Getting me into that big white room proved to be more of a struggle than anyone could have imagined. And then the surgery itself lasted much longer that it was scheduled for due to resuscitation requirements. I woke up with severe back pain, headaches and double vision. The latter plagued me for weeks. Each morning I would tell my parents if I saw only one of them or two and we ended up making a joke of it. For a while I had four parents! Even with all the complications, this recovery was quicker. I was back home and ready to start 4thgrade in optimal time.
The injury was a harsh reality of life that left both physical and emotional scars, but I believed with all my young heart that Jesus loved me and knew that He would lead me through the dark valleys I faced. My parents were God fearing people who taught me to trust in Him and bring both my praises and requests in prayer. Attending church regularly helped me learn the Bible stories of faith, resilience and courage. Those lessons were priceless as the bullies of middle and high school hunted me down, making fun of me for being different. And then even more when I learned the consequences of trying to fit in.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13, NKJV). Through it all, I have found that resilience is from God. It is the inner quality that propels one to get up and keep going when life is painful, discouraging and difficult. When deep wounds tell you that you will never become whole again there is an essence that says you will. When the mind plays tricks on you during sleepless nights with whispers of discouragement, there is a substance that reminds you those whispers are a lie. And when temptation says, “Just give up, you are not worth it,” there is an element that says you are worth more than all of it! It is that bouncy, stretchy substance of life that will catch you, hold you firmly for a “moment” and propel you through your situation. It is a supernatural courage and recovery, one that cannot be completely understood.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9 NIV) Many scholars agree that he wrote this in opposition to the Stoic Philosophy that sought contentment in hardships and advocated for reveling in said difficulty. His alternative perspective on the trials of life were in opposition to the philosophy of the day. (A stoic may focus solely on persecution, while Paul was reminding the church to focus on God and the fact that He has not abandoned them). This verse holds an application for our day as well. While we are bombarded with the 21stCentury philosophies regarding self-help and ten steps to whatever it can be tempting to take a godless perspective. However, the truth is that we need not look farther than the word of God for the ‘secret’ of resilience.
Resilience: Rest each scar in the Lord’s incredible, eternal, nourishing care everyday. This will solidify your fortress of faith. He will both hold you and propel you through the moments that come. You may not always feel the shockwaves of His power but, oh dear one, they are there!
Keener, C. S. (2014). The IVP Background Commentary, New Testament, 2ndEdition. IVP Academic, Downers Grove, Illinois.