Back a number of years ago when I was working as a counsellor, terms like resiliency and support network were huge buzz words or phrases. For all I know, they are still popular phrases that counsellors use. In fact, every profession seems to have pet terms and jargon that they religiously spew out every time their mouths open. If a person were to purposely try to avoid using those terms, they would just drill in deeper like earworms and find their way out your pie hole anyways. Inevitable. Like water in the mouth of a swimmer that makes you ill if you don’t spit it out. I need to let you know right now that I have no real objection to the words or concepts. It’s just that they were at every turn, to the point of overuse and nausea. Used correctly, they were full of meaning and impact. But in the mind and mouth of someone who just wanted to be on trend and “current”, they also had the potential to fall flat and sound empty. Almost like eating a cardboard picture of a really delicious looking juicy burger.
I always marvelled at how some people seemed to so flippantly use the concepts and not really show a solid grasp of their implications. During my time as a counsellor, I honestly tried to offer solid help for anyone who came to me and asked for it. Some issues were much too complex for me to work through and were referred on to someone with more letters after their name; still others were so intriguing that I persisted in giving them a shot with potential future referral if I saw that they were truly too complex. It doesn’t take long in counselling to start to recognize those that have a great chance of moving through an issue fairly quickly. Let me return to one of those buzzphrases. “Support network” is the one I’m thinking of right now. For me, I always envisioned it like a trampoline. Mad and crazy bounces were not an issue if you were confident in the springs and the bed of the tramp.
Sometimes it takes quite a bit to get used the idea that the tramp will work for you in order to really let go and jump like a pro. Using the tramp to it’s maximum potential could only happen if you let go and trusted in the bed and springs. Our oldest son was just such a person. When he first tried the tramp, he was as stiff as gumby and would hold his rigid pose on every bounce. There musn’t have been any comfort in it, but he persisted in jumping as if to limber up all the stiffness by simply pushing himself past the fears that held him in that pose. On the one hand it was amusing…on the other it was inspiring. We never took any pictures of it because those were the days where digital cameras were just coming into use and the camera we had still used the rolls of film. Memories were much more personal from that era. We may be losing our memory, or the use of it because we have so many pictures of everything. I value those things that only I have seen in the privacy of a non photo era. But I’ve gone off the rails. Lets get back to the topic at hand.
When it comes to the trampoline of life, what kind of things do you look for to help you bounce back? What are the springs? What are those resiliency factors that should be developed and built into your life to help you bounce back when things go south? I used to work with 5. In no particular order they were Physical, Mental, Social, Emotional and finally but most importantly Spiritual.
It’s not common in this era to actually visit the spiritual aspects of your life. For those like me who do include the spiritual in their lives, we have come to realize how essential it is to the overall process of bouncing back. Some things that people look to for the kind of help that will get them bouncing back are actually anchors and chains that pull them down. Wealth of money is a chain that seems to be a good source to sustain you. And sure enough, it will be connected to the frame, but it is not a spring. Fame is another of the anchor series that mislead people to believe they have something to bounce back on but it is anything but.
Developing your spiritual life is essential. You can only go so far with the things of this earth. When things get critical we always look beyond. I hinted on the details of a situation I experienced while in rehab with 3 other roommates. If it wouldn’t have been so serious on the one hand, I would have laughed out loud at my roommate. He would talk pretty crass all day long and on a number of occasions he would badmouth God or belief in God, or the people would bring that topic up. It was very clear from his language and attitudes that he didn’t hold any of it any kind of esteem, let alone have any common respect for those things. He complained bitterly about the hospital food because there was far too much vegetable matter and the meat portions were not at all tasty. Although I didn’t disagree with him on the meat part, I wondered how long until all of this went south and caused a stalemate. At one point in time, his injuries and medications, and lack of physical activity and that marvelous diet he had (his son would visit and bring him Mary Browns fried chicken and gravy and potatoes, of which I partook at one point in time through his generosity) finally came to a screeching halt. All day he spent in huffing and puffing agony as his tennis ball sized diamond in the rough knocked at the door but couldn’t make it a slam dunk. Without any success, the skies grew dark and the lights of the room went out in our room. All night long he cried out saying, “Oh God, please help me.”
I get the fact that he may have been calling on God in vain, so to speak. He probably used His name in a phrase that was common but had no meaning to him personally. It got me thinking though. My roommate was unable to honestly and earnestly call on anything greater than himself in times of real anguish and struggle. And there are times when the circumstance goes beyond mere human capacity. I accept this reality of my transcendent anchor and have the ability to call out to God when things are beyond my capacity. That is one mondo huge spring to bounce back on. Seemingly, I have had a swift recovery from my stroke so far. That is what I hear from the doctors and physio people and the friends that have had a chance to connect since the stroke. Although I have a lot of work yet to do, I am well on my way. I for one am very sure of the fact that there is power beyond me and as I tapped into that power for hope and courage and persistence to bear the load on the rocky road I had to walk, and am still walking, God has indeed done the heavy work of bouncing me back from the big fall I took. There is a peace and assurance that I am well taken care of in the hand of God, my transcendent caretaker and provider. Maybe that looks cavalier or overconfident to some, evidence of personal determination and drive to others, but I truly know how much that part of my life really comes into play. And that it has nothing to do with me other than the willingness to look beyond myself for the strength I need on a daily basis. If anyone who reads this is struggling with the sheer magnitude of the fall they have taken, I would be more than willing to share.