My son is about to complete his sophomore year in high school. He is preparing to take the test to get his driver’s license. How, how, how did this happen? I have two short years to prepare him for life. How could I have let the time slip away so quickly? What have I been DOING for the past 16 years!?
Once I could calm my brain (and my heart) down long enough to think, one word popped into my mind: resilience. I admit that I have a long laundry list of the things I want to tell him before he spreads his wings. Good things. Important things. Things I wish I had known before I branched out on my own. But we all know that while words are a wonderful starting point, they are just that – a starting point.
The real teacher of life lessons is experience. However, when I’m truly honest with myself, I don’t want to sit back and let life teach my son anything. That is excruciating! I know from my own experiences how painful life is. And I also know that without pain, there is no growth. Resilience is the shield that helps us come out on the other side of adversity scarred, battle-tested yet in a better place; in a place of transformation. Resilience is what paves the way for growth. How do I know my son is going to be resilient? Where is the two-year crash course on teaching resilience?
Sadly, neither of those questions has a satisfying answer. There is no crash course (other than life, that is) and no one knows if and when they will be resilient until they have to be. With some serious medical issue through his first few years of life, he has already had some practice with resilience. And so have we.
To gain a sliver of peace of mind, I reflected on how my resilience was manifest during those rough first few years.
1. Hope and Faith – This was my foundation. Hope and faith in something bigger than us helped me let go of trying to be in control. (I wrote about letting go in this previous blog post.) The “tightness” of having to be in control does not allow for the amazing opportunity for transformation that acting with resilience brings.
2. Creativity – We DEFINITELY had to think outside the box and outside our comfort zone. We had to do things that the “What to Do When You’re Expecting” books and child birth classes didn’t cover, or even scratch the surface.
3. Patience and Perseverance – This one has always been the hardest for me. In the midst of trying times, of truly awful, gut-wrenching times, patience is the last thing I wanted to practice. And, frankly, perseverance can go to hell. BUT…they are critical factors not only in the transformation that comes along with resilience, they are the surfboard that helps us ride the wave of the next tsunami.
I look at these three things and I can breathe. I can talk about and role-model hope for my son. I can talk about and role-model faith for my son. I can talk about and teach creativity. I can talk about and role-model patience (sometimes!) and perseverance for my son. My son will be just fine. He will be scarred. He will experience bumps and bruises. He will experience pain. And he WILL experience resilience and transformation, just as he already has.