The Power of Resilience

Setbacks and Failures

It was one of those bad days.

You know the kind?  Where everything you worked so hard for… falls apart.  Where the little steps forward you’ve taken at great personal cost… all get lost in one mighty setback.  Where what you were proud of turns to ashes, and momentum you thought you had dissipates into thin air.

That was my weekend.

I worked hard.  I poured my heart and soul into two big projects.  I did this while making every effort to keep practicing self-care, look after my family and try not to blink as my husband’s current work project had him working 15 hour days.

I got to the weekend relieved, exhausted, but proud.  I had accomplished big things.  I had created some positive momentum.  I was excited for the future.

It took one off-handed comment, one failed email, one thoughtless person and one trip into the comparison trap for it all to fall apart.




Words that cycled through my mind I couldn’t get rid of.  

I took a day off from my writing challenge.  It’s the weekend.  And then a second day off.

I took a day off from running.  It’s thanksgiving.

I took a day off from devotions.  Maybe later.

I took a day off from budgeting.  Not now.

It took months for me to gain the courage to take the little steps to get where I was, and I was wiling to throw it all away for one bad day.

Have you been there?

Of course you have.  Maybe the words in your mind were different from mine, but we’ve all been in the place where the odds seemed stacked against us, where all our efforts were tossed like yesterday’s trash and where it didn’t seem worth it to keep showing up.

Progress is hard.

But when it comes to living abundantly, I’m not willing to fail.

It’s too important to give up.


Enter the word resilience.

A little word that packs a big punch.

It’s the ability to recover quickly, to get back up again and to keep going.

It’s a gritty, gutsy word, and one that feels too slippery to hold when things are tough, but one that also has the power to help me dig a little deeper and get back up again.

According to the Mayo Clinic, resilience can actually protect you from various mental health issues, as well as help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions (such as past trauma).

That’s kind of a big deal.  Pretty important to mental health, wouldn’t you say?

It seems like some people are born with resilience – they just keep getting back up again – and others of us struggle to find the energy to even start.

Well, we’re in luck. 

You can actually develop resilience, and here’s how:

7 Ways to Develop Resilience

1.  Don’t do it alone. 

This is why 12 step programs have sponsors, fitness programs have accountability built in and support groups even exist.  Whether it’s a counselor you confide in, a Bible study group you share with, a walking club you join or a family member you lean on, look for people who will walk this journey with you.

“Isolation is a dream killer” (Tamara Lowe)

2.  Stop looking for perfect.

It’s so easy to want to quit when things go awry – let’s face it, perfect is off the table.  We’re looking at flat out crises and disasters.  But even so, our temptation is to see this setback as the end of the road.  It’s not.  We will move past it.  We do have a future beyond this disaster.  So whether you’re beating yourself up over falling off the dieting wagon… again… or facing a very real traumatic crisis, remind yourself… this is not the end.  I have a future beyond this moment.

3. Be flexible. 

This is hard.  I used to be super flexible, but since burning out, I love my stable, predictable routine and I go a little sideways whenever it’s threatened.  I’m not at all flexible these days.  Still, as much as I protect my healthy rhythms, I try to make space for changes that are out of my control, and get back to “normal” as soon as possible.  Sometimes that means changing my normal.  It’s hard, but it’s possible.  Life will change, and I can adjust with it.

4. Do the next little thing. 

Keep making progress.  

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop (Confucius)

5. Take care of yourself. 

Everything looks worse when you’re falling apart.  Show yourself some kindness.  Look after yourself.  Investing in your personal health is a great way to gain the strength to handle difficult situations in the long run.

6. Hold onto truth. 

In difficult times, the lies get loud: “you’re so stupid.  You’ve got nothing to offer.  Nobody will ever love you” and on and on and on.  Recognize the lies as they come at you, and deal with them by speaking truth over each one (more on this tomorrow).

7. Take it to God. 

You’re not in this alone.  This is not just your fight.  You have One who is mighty and powerful to save. 


Developing resilience takes time and practice – but some of these things we’re doing on our journey anyway.  

So once more, I get back up again – gently – and try one more time.

One little thing at a time.

This is Day 7 in a 31 day series.  Catch up on the series here.

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