Recognizing Resilience

A friend said to me the other day, “You don’t give yourself enough credit for how resilient you are.”

Resilience. It’s a quality we often don’t recognize in ourselves, even though we have it in spades. I’m starting to realize that resilience isn’t something we have to learn or develop; it’s just a part of human nature.

I’m thinking more about resilience as my five-year-old daughter and I are in the kitchen one spring day. I hear what sounds like someone knocking on the front door. Assuming it’s a delivery, I head to the entryway.

No, it’s hail, arriving as abruptly as an unannounced guest. Pea-sized pebbles of ice shoot down from the sky. Come and see this, I call to my daughter, who is delighted with the idea of “snow” in late April. For a few minutes we stand there and just watch, listening to the pounding of ice hitting wood and brick and cement, the surprising intensity of it. The storm is over quickly and my daughter wants to play outside; she grabs an umbrella, even though it’s not necessary now. The sun is already breaking through the clouds. Birds are chirping and rooting in the grass for worms. Aside from the tiny spheres of ice littering the ground here and there, it’s as if the storm never happened.

We may not always see resiliency in ourselves, but it is easy to find it in nature. We observe it in the daffodils as their slender green leaves nudge through soil that only weeks ago was blanketed in snow. We see it in the robins and blackbirds who faithfully return each spring to build new nests, intricate creations that will likely fall apart once the babies have flown away and winter’s chill arrives. We marvel at the tenacity of sea stars and their capacity to re-grow parts of their bodies that have been lost. Whatever the obstacle or setback may be, all living things have an innate ability to go on.

Like a hailstorm that plummets into the earth with astonishing force, any crisis in our lives can consume us fully with its power and intensity. In these moments, we can’t imagine things ever returning to normal. But more often than not, we somehow muddle through and come out on the other side, where, as if by magic, the world is fresh and new again. And if we are lucky, we might find joy that wasn’t there before.

Whatever we may be facing in life, we can take a cue from nature, and remember that we are all tougher than we think.

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