Friday, January 8, 2016

Develop Emotional Resilience to Bounce Back

September 11, 2013

Were you at the Identity Unleashed event last Saturday? I was - as a volunteer counselor! With great excitement, my carpool friends and I arrived at The Cow Palace before 2 p.m... We put on our red event T-shirts. We checked in with our team leaders at our appointed time. We scouted out our assigned sections. We prayed, ate snacks, and waited in anticipation.

I'm grateful for a chance of being one of 50 counselors ministering to over 7000 attendees. I heard from our team connect director that 40 people accepted Christ that night. She said she knew there were many more but probably too shy to get up. Also, from messages she received, there were hundreds who were moved to reaffirm their faith and to attend church the very next day. I'm greatly encouraged by individuals and churches who stepped up to serve youths for the Kingdom of God in one team.

Seeds were planted. May we be mindful of how we and our children are affected by voices of the world (e.g. the love of money, worldly success, and the desire for human approval) as shared by Jeremy.

"With all the media attention, all the love from the fans, I felt I needed to prove myself. But I've surrendered that to God. I'm not in a battle with what everybody else thinks anymore... You never know how you will react under pressure until you are placed into the situation... I felt so much pressure to live up to the expectations, the pressure and the hype. But then I decided to let all of that go and to just play and do God's will and that's when I felt truly free..."

Jeremy advised based on personal experience, "Get back to listening to God's voice. This is how you learn your true identity.... Ask yourself, what voice are you listening to in your life? It could be your parents, it could be your teachers, it could be your boss, it could be your boyfriend, it could be your girlfriend, and ask yourself what are they calling you to do? ..."

Talking about expectation, I was first disappointed that nobody in my assigned section stood up when Francis Chan made his alter call. Why didn't I have the chance to counsel someone? For a moment, I forgot it was not about me. But the Holy Spirit reminded me that it is all about Jesus! No matter what, my true identity is a child of God. It is my privilege to serve God with other believers. As his childhood Sunday school teacher, I congratulate Jeremy, his parents and the entire team.

Becoming Linsanity does not immunize Jeremy Lin from the ups and downs of life. Like it or not, each of us will face ups and down in life. I hope you will find renewed perspectives and suggestions in this article, Develop Emotional Resilience to Bounce Back, about how to help yourself and your children to live courageously and abundantly in this world.

Christians or not, parents want to develop resilience in their children so that they can ride through the ups and downs in life. In this feature article, I want to point out how the Christian worldview has a different starting point - having a new identity in Christ.

Major disruptions are a "gotcha" we all experience at one time or another in our lives. We get fired, laid off or passed over; a loved one dies, leaves or gets in trouble; a project stalls or gets cancelled. The list, unfortunately, is endless.

For some, the impact of these hard times is overwhelming. Recovery, if it comes at all, can be painfully slow. Others show resilience and are admirably able to glide through these times fairly easily, bouncing back to a normal life again quickly. Resilience -- the strength required to adapt to change -- acts as our internal compass so we can resourcefully navigate an upset.

When unexpected events turn life upside down, it's the degree to which our resiliency comes into play that makes these "make-or-break" situations an opportunity for growth. The good news is that each of us has the capacity to reorganize our life after a disruption and to achieve new levels of strength and meaningfulness. Though it's easy to feel vulnerable in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, life disruptions are not necessarily a bad thing because they help us grow and meet future challenges in our lives. It's a lot like a bone that was once fragile or broken, and is now strong from being used.

So how can you become more resilient? Here's a look at seven key characteristics of Christians who demonstrate resilience during life's curve balls.

A Sense of Hope and Trust in God
Resilient people rely on their belief in the basic goodness of God and trust that things will turn out alright in the end. This positive attitude allows them to weather times when everything seems bleak and to look for and accept the support that is out there. This approach toward the world gives them the ability to hope for a better future.

Interpreting Experiences in a New Light
The ability to look at a situation in a new way (a skill called "reframing") can minimize the impact of a difficult situation. Christians can refame situations through the perspective of a loving and faithful God. Resilient people take a creative approach toward solving a problem, and don't always use an old definition for a new challenge.

A Meaningful System of Support
One of the best ways to endure a crisis is to have the support of another person who can listen and validate your feelings. Knowing that others care and will come to our support decreases the feeling of isolation, especially when tackling a problem alone. It's important to choose people you trust. Don't be surprised if it takes several friends, each of whom can provide different kinds of support. Resilient people aren't stoic loners. They know the value of expressing their fears and frustrations, as well as receiving support, coaching or guidance from friends, family or a professional. Even if people fail you, remember that God will never leave you nor forsake you. God is your ultimate support!

A Sense of Your Destiny in God's Control
You may not be able to predict the future, but you can tackle a problem instead of feeling at the mercy of forces outside of your control. Resilient people know that ultimately their survival and the integrity of their life values depend on their ability to take action rather than remain passive. Tough times call for you to tap into your own sense of personal responsibility while journeying with God and others. Knowing God controls circumstances and outcomes, we can be free from performance anxiety while motivated to do our best for the glory of His Kingdom.

Self-Reflection and Insight
Life's experiences provide fertile ground for learning. Asking yourself questions that invite introspection can open a door to new understanding and appreciation of who you are and what you stand for. Giving voice to your thoughts and feelings leads to insight and helps transform the meaning of a problem into something useful. Resilient people learn from life situations and do not succumb to punishing themselves because of decisions made in the past. Identity unleashed: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

A Wide Range of Interests
People who show resilience in the face of adversity are those who have a diversity of interests. They're open to new experiences and ideas. Because their lives are rich and varied, it's easier for them to find relief from the single mindedness and worry that often accompany a crisis. Each person has strengths and weaknesses. Each one of us is unique in God's eyes.

Sense of Humor
Have you ever had a wry laugh during a difficult situation? The ability to see the absurdity, irony, or genuine humor in a situation stimulates our sense of hope and possibility. Humor has both psychological and physical benefits in relieving stress because it encourages a swift change in your perception of your circumstances -- and when your thoughts change, your mood follows. Christians can rejoice even in our suffering because we know and trust we are loved by God for eternity.

When you look to improve these seven areas now before adversity pays a visit, you'll be able to bounce back more quickly. By practicing in real life, you will influence your kids and develop resilience in them -- by showing, not just telling.

Here is a GoodTV video recording of Jeremy Lin's testimony "Dream Big, Be Yourself" that he shared in Taipei on August 18th, 2013. I hope you and your youths will be encouraged and inspired.
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

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