from difficult people, and
from painful events.
This one simple response begins to build stability into our spiritual lives as we develop resilience and buoyancy to bounce well.
I surprise some who know me when I tell them how quickly I can get discouraged and spiral down. My first reflex is often to run and hide. Many are surprised because they view stability as one of my strong points.
I’m learning to bounce well.
Perhaps you may respond better to attacks in life than I do. You may not have as much need to bounce well since you don’t spiral down as often as me. I need to draw on this ability often! For me, when waves of life crash over me without warning, they usually knock me around, thrusting me downward like a powerful undertow. My initial response is often discouragement as I bounce off the abrasive sands of trials.
Let me explore this crucial concept with two other concepts that help us to learn to bounce well.
First, I learned something about resilience…
…when I was in high school in 1964. The “SuperBall” by Wham-O was the rage. I had not seen them for decades until I just googled them. The harder I slammed the ball on the concrete, the higher it bounced, as high as 75 feet according to Wham-O.
Why such resilience?Have you wondered why they bounce so high?
A SuperBall is extremely elastic with high resilience. When this highly elastic ball hits the ground, it gets compressed or squished. Because it’s elastic though, it quickly decompresses and returns to its original shape, thrusting itself back up.
Their resiliency quotient measures how they respond when a force hits them. The SuperBall has up to 50,000 pounds of compressed energy according to Wham-O. Resiliency is an inner capacity that counters its circumstances with a greater force. The more a SuperBall is compressed, the higher it soars because of its resiliency.
Resilience is an inner capacity or ability, not just to bounce back, but to advance beyond where it started. Resilience has the seed within to gain new ground and to flourish.
Similarly, the harder life slams us, the higher our life soars…if we have developed a high resilience quotient in the spiritual realm. As I become more spiritually resilient, I develop the capacity to take a powerful punch and use its force to rise to greater heights than before.
Let’s learn to bounce well by becoming inwardly resilient, elastic, flexible followers of Jesus (yes, this is learned behavior responding to the present resurrected life of Jesus within!)
A second concept or word picture is buoyancy.
If something has buoyancy, it has an inward capacity or power to float or rise above its fluid environment. For a boat, this happens with the building material in the hull is sealed from leaks from outside. Since the captured air is lighter than water, this inward atmosphere keeps it afloat. When I float in a pool, I must relax and trust the natural inward buoyancy to keep me above water. Our buoyancy quota is crucial to weather the storms of life.
For me, when waves of life flood me without warning, they usually knock me around, thrusting me downward like a powerful undertow. My initial response is often discouragement as I scrape against the abrasive sands and sharp rocks of trials.
In order to float in a pool, I must relax and allow my buoyancy to operate. Similarly, I must learn to relax and trust the inward buoyancy the Spirit has developed within as I’ve partnered with Him. I’ve listed some of these resources in Christ on my webpage, Learning to Live Loved and its sub-webpage Flood our Lives with Spiritual Nutrition. As we develop inward buoyancy, the harder the powerful waves of life knock us around and drive us under, the more quickly we pop up and float over many more rough obstacles. Develop an inner capacity of spiritual buoyancy as we journey in life (yes, it’s developed…all can learn to ride high).
How buoyant are you in your life today?
“Riding high on the waves, Jim!”
“Floating low in the water.”
My favorite picture though is this third one, “Weeble-Wobble.”
I’m learning to bounce well like my favorite “pet,” Weeble-Wobble. I carry my pet everywhere I go in my backpack. If you have not met my wonderful pet “Weeble,” Google him.
When I think of bounce well, I’m not thinking about how to avoid trials or tough times or loss. Good luck with that strategy! Pain and suffering are part and parcel of our lives in a fallen world. Trials and loss are normal for followers of Jesus who desire to live godly lives (2 Timothy 3:12).
As I become more spiritually resilient, I develop the capacity to take an outside haymaker and use its force to rise to greater heights. As I become more spiritually buoyant, my inward capacity to ride high above whatever floods my life increases. In short, I learn to bounce well!
With spiritual awareness, I notice more quickly when I struggle (not “if” but “when”). Growing inner spiritual resiliency and buoyancy strengthen and broaden my spiritual foundation. I learn to bounce well as I trust God to use for good what the dark forces of evil mean for harm. Growth does not mean “fewer struggles.” Instead, I first recognize it more quickly (awareness) and identify important responses to take.
Let’s learn a healthy Biblical theology of how God uses pain and suffering to form us into our highest and best, without becoming victims or martyrs. Weeble gets slapped around by life like a hockey puck, yet quickly stands upright again. In fact, my pet’s reputation is:
“Weeble wobbles but does not fall.”
What is Weeble’s inner secret?
Weeble has a solid, heavily weighted foundation or base. When life assaults, he wobbles a bit, but does not fall. Circumstances in life may knock us down, yet not out as we learn to bounce well. My “pet” reminds me of two essential truths from Scripture that have helped me learn to bounce well.
First, develop a solid, weighty center.
My pet Weeble teaches me the importance of focusing on a solid center in my life with sustaining weight. This weighty base from Scripture centered on the Father, Son and Spirit and their provisions for their redeemed and restored image-bearers also re-calibrates our inner spiritual compass. I’m still very much in-process after forty-plus years walking with Christ. And also determined to continue growing as a lifelong life-learner and doer.
Second, embrace a view of our God, who gives us permission to wobble for a time.
After being slammed by life, Weeble gives me permission to wobble for a time before I stand firm. And we will stand if we look to our Master because He will “make us stand” (Romans 14:4). Our wonderful Team-of-Three will never give us more than we can handle as we partner with Him (1 Corinthians 10:13, although I confess at times that I think He does!) I don’t have to beat myself up for wavering. No self-loathing. Weeble keeps smiling!
Honestly facing my emotions of lament are crucial to spiritual growth. Please don’t view these emotions though as an accurate reflection of Reality. These feelings are truly what we feel at the moment, yet most often don’t align with God-reality. Go to Jesus and the NT explanation of Him for an accurate view of life.
Our inner affections are crucial pointers that shout, “Something is happening!” They are not accurate guides for spiritual discernment and awareness.
Quickly respond to this early warning signal, then engage your mind by partnering with the Spirit in Scripture to discern what is happening. My initial, knee-jerk response may often be discouragement, yet I now bounce well through my chosen secondary responses…and often quickly. Growing maturity is not marked by perfection, but progress in the right direction.
This concept of learning to bounce well as we develop spiritual resilience and buoyancy to overcome attacks and trials is so crucial for growth. I hope one of these word pictures finds its way into your heart (my favorite is still Weeble-Wobble!)
How do we become resilient and buoyant with a solid, weighty base so we bounce well (blending the three pictures)?
As we become more resilient like a SuperBall and more buoyant like a spiritual cork, these develop my pet Weeble’s solid, weighty foundation so we bounce well when adversity slaps us around.Now we can better embrace that…
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Sailors learn to sail in normal weather, so they are prepared for the storms. My encouragement is to begin to make these your own now, before you battle the winds and waves of trials. Feel free to make a comment to me suggesting any key elements I missed.
Third, deepen awareness to identify the problem and to embrace the solution.
Recently we hosted a HS grad party for one of our grandsons. Half way through, our front door would not open. A few well-meaning guys identified the existing gap in our old door as the underlying cause the problem. They lifted and grunted, believing that the problem was that the door dragged.
After sufficient failure, a competent handyman came through. He took a moment and identified the cause as a broken handle mechanism. He drove down to the hardware store, purchased the part, and fixed it.
What’s the point?
Both saw the problem, a stuck door. They both expended energy. But only the second identified the correct underlying cause and came to the correct conclusion on the solution. It’s the same for us when we struggle. Identify the real underlying cause.
When we stumble over a spiritual problem in our lives, the world’s ways scream: “Begin with yourself to find the cause!” As you will discover for yourself in the three sample passages below, as followers of Jesus, we begin beyond ourselves.
- First, what mature characteristic of Jesus would fill me so that no room remained for the underlying cause to thrive? A good spot to begin is the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 or the eight Beatitudes in Matthew 7, both describing Jesus.
- Second, what God-given need from God’s design for humanity in Genesis 1 and 2 do I feel lacks in me in this season so I respond like this “deficit person”?
Below are a sampling of passages that demonstrate for me how to develop spiritual resiliency and buoyancy to develop my weighty foundation. Read these. Absorb them. Soak in them. And make them your own.
And also gather your own spiritual “deep wells” from God’s Love-Letter. Nothing else gives us the stability to bounce well when (not if) life assaults us. Remember, that as followers of Jesus, we are never alone.
- Resilience in Rough Times – Psalm 13
Resilience in Rough Times – Psalm 27.
“I am the True Vine & You Are My Branch” – John 15:1-21.
It’s for Freedom that Christ Calls Us – Galatians 5:1+13-26.
However, we need to partner with the Spirit to do our part. Study each of these three helpful passages above. Blend them together in a way that works best for you since we are each unique. As you continue to broaden and strengthen your spiritual foundation, add to your summary of how to respond best to bounce well.
Now picture this scene with me. Remember a time when another person accepted you fully, just as you were at that moment, not because of what you have done or could do. They welcome and embrace you right where you are. How did it feel? Sit in that a moment.
Now, on your good days and bad days, that’s how the Father, Son and Spirit relate with you. How could our lives change if we learned to live loved?
- Print out the free PDF of this page if you want to think more deeply on it (click here).
- Go to Learning to Live Loved and begin strengthening these as your life focus, right now even if you are in a season of smooth sailing.
- If you consciously struggle now in an arena, go to the web page Exchange God’s Truth for your Lie and see which comes closest. Print the free PDF and partner with the Spirit to work it through.