Emotional Resilience

It’s not a secret that 2020 was a challenging year, worldwide and individually. I must admit that I personally have been challenged in more ways than I ever dreamed I could be challenged. I have been challenged in a way that I would only want to read about in a fictional story, but alas, it has been my real challenge in this land of the living and not in a dream. It’s something I wouldn’t wish for anyone.

When something bad is happening to everyone, it’s a difficult challenge, but it’s comforting when everyone is talking about it and you know it’s not only you, like the corona virus pandemic. It’s happening to everyone around the world, but when you catch it, or your loved ones catch it and die, then it becomes one’s individual difficult challenge.

It’s true that you can’t teach others what you don’t know. I have been an advocate of resilience for years. The word has been my reason for being, the reason to get out of bed to go and tell someone to hang in there because it’s gonna be ok. I have shared the message of breaking loose from the chains to countless women who have gone on to be strong women. To learn this, I have been faced with countless difficult problems in my life that could have seen me six feet under, but God helped me each time and I overcame, I broke loose from the chains. I bounced back! Not that I go looking for trouble or I plan it, it just happens, I guess that’s just how life chooses to unfold itself before me.

My challenge, three weeks before the end of 2020, was in the form of an attack on social media by someone who has never even met me, but I believe was hired by people who have heard about me, but never actually met me. These are people who don’t know how to solve their own problems but blame everyone else for their problems, people who refuse to look within themselves to see their own faults in order to correct them rather than looking to the outside to see who they can blame. The solution doesn’t live on the outside, it always lives on the inside of the person going through those problems. I liken this to tending a garden. The health of plants in ones garden cannot be protected from weeds by blaming passers by that they are the cause of the weeds in the garden. It’s not their garden for God’s sake! Weed your garden and let passers by be. You can ask for their help to weed your garden, but don’t blame them for causing the weeds to grow in your garden.

The person that was hired to defame my character and personality does not know the type of person that I am, but went on to attack my self worth my integrity, how ugly and old I look and much more. By blaming me, this person was giving me power over issues I didn’t know, but the thing is, I didn’t have that power over the problems of the person he was speaking for. This pair had given over the power to me by playing victims instead of standing up to their challenge. This person was simply saying that the person on whose behalf they chose to attack me had problems which they couldn’t solve, only I could solve them for them.

One thing I have been taught in life is to never blame someone else for my problems. If I do, I’m simply saying that I have no power over my situation and I’m giving power to the person I’m blaming to solve my problems. Rarely do people solve problems they don’t know.

To be victorious in life, one must learn to take responsibility for their own problems and never blame things or people who can’t help them to change the situation.

The attack on my person was affecting my work, my relationships and a lot other things, and would have continued to do so as long as I allowed that. However much I wanted this to be over, it left a wound in my soul that I knew only God could heal. The more I looked at that post on social media, full of insults, ridicule, hate towards a person people don’t even know, I realised that the world is full of hate and is in bondage. Though I have been an advocate of resilience for many years, helping women to break loose, It felt like I was failing this test myself. This I felt was the ultimate test of my resilience and my self worth. It was over powering, but I knew it couldn’t be more powerful than the love of God.

As I grappled with the shock of this unwelcome attack which I never imagined in a million years could happen to me, the question I asked myself is, ‘How did I find myself here?’

Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was the passer by who was wrongly accused of suddenly making weeds grow in someone else’s garden and so I was expected to go and tend to the garden. I found myself in a position where I wanted to defend myself, but I realised it was not worth it. Vengeance belongs to God, so the bible tells me. There’s a saying that goes like, “if you fight with a pig, both of you will get dirty but the pig will be loving it.” I had to rise above the dirt!

How could I rise above such pain? How could I exercise the resilience that I always preach when I felt this low? Well, to begin with, we need to understand that resilience doesn’t mean that you’re strong and things don’t affect you. it means that you get hit hard, you fall down but you get back up again though not necessarily in the same state as before, but you get up, dust yourself and move on. Circumstances will fold you to cripple you but you spring back by the love of God.

Through it all, I learned that my body is like an electric gadget, a feeding pump I once used at the hospital, that went into default setting when it got switched off from the mains. All the information that was recorded on it would get wiped off because it got disconnected from the power source. So does my flesh get disconnected from the source of God’s encouraging word, each time I go to sleep at night. I’ll go to bed feeling so empowered, full of God’s word and love, but I would wake up empty and feeling so angry. Not sure if I have holes in my heart that were letting the word escape. The minute I opened my eyes, I would feel so angry I just wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. I had to take myself through the word of God and a lot of self talk before the setting changed to spiritual. This continued to happen every morning, for weeks. I continued with the same exercise of encouraging myself in the morning. I would stop every negative word and played my worship music that would saturate my mind with the encouraging words. That just wiped out the anger.

Because this attack happened on social media, there was a temptation of staying off that platform to avoid the attacking ghost. I have learned in life that the more you avoid the ghosts that haunt you, the harder it will get to get back up again, you need to face your ghosts face to face, confront what is and it will have less power over you. I kept showing up every day with my posts on social media. These were posts to encourage me, to remind me of who I was and what is in me.

On one of those days, I was in prayer which always keeps me sane. As I was praying, a song popped up in my heart and I started singing;

“They’re watching you, marking all you do, hearing the things you say, let them see the saviour as he shines in you, let his power control you everyday.”

Wow! That’s a song we used to sing in Scripture Union at secondary school and I have not sung it in decades. I believed that this was God telling me that people were watching and seeing my reaction to that attack and that I should let them see him through me. And for the pain, I should let his power control me every day. That was my turning point and the beginning of my healing. I bounced back and slowly went back to my normal activities.

When this ordeal struck, I felt a sudden depletion of what I was excited about and I felt so discouraged, I felt naked and couldn’t look people in the eye when talking to them because of the shame that sprung from all the wrong accusations. I felt like they were seeing through me. In prayer, the shame rolled away because I now realised that this was not just about me but it was also to encourage someone whose head is bowed down in shame because of the accusing fingers directed at them.

I also had the support of friends who stood with me and kept encouraging me. To be resilient, one needs the support of others. I so believe in a saying I have always shared, “a burning candle cannot give light to itself. As it burns, it gives light to other candles, but it needs other candles to light the bottom of its holder where it stands.” If you observe a burning candle, you will notice that there’s a shadow at the bottom where the candle stands, though it’s giving light at the top.

That’s very true. I always encourage others and they get encouraged but when something happens to me, I find it very difficult to encourage myself. I need the encouragement of others. Being in a community matters. We all need the support of others.

How to get back up

1. Acknowledge your pain. Don’t pretend that all is well. Tell yourself and those close to you that you’re hurting.

2. Face your ghost, in other words face your fears. What you confront becomes less daunting.

3. Exercise to avoid going into depression. When you exercise, feel good hormones are released into your blood system

4. Get affirmations from God’s word and encourage yourself daily, hard as it may be. Play the worship music if you’re christian or play audio Bible or any encouraging book.

5. Get involved in a community. Enlist some trusted friends to support you.

6. Pray and listen to God. This is where your answer to your healing lies.

7. Go out and help someone else to take focus off you.

8. If whatever your problem is weighs heavily on you and you can’t seem to get over this, seek professional help. It’s good to talk to a stranger. Talking will help you to explore your feelings and your thoughts.

9. OPO! Don’t let other people’s opinions about you destroy your life. Opinions are just opinions, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What matters is God’s opinion about you and your own opinion about yourself. Live your life, not in the shadows of what others think.

Next time you fall down, remember that if you’re down the only other way is up, but the choice is yours whether to stay down or get back up. Circumstances have no power over what happens to you. They only come with lessons and to reveal what’s in you. Resilience is in you. Greatness is in you. So be brave, be bold, be you.

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