What Is Spiritual Resilience?

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The phrase, “spiritual resilience” is in the sub-title of my book, God Is Just Love.  Yet, in the book, I do not define it.  So far, no one has asked me for a definition; not even for an example of a spiritually resilient person.  I do not, in the book, name and describe such spiritually mature individuals and the qualities that are evidence of their resilience.

Is this a flaw?  I’m not sure.  Let’s think about it together.

I have, hundreds of times, stated the purpose, the compelling necessity for, spiritual resilience in the following terms.

As they live into an increasingly hazardous future, our children need to know that they are loved    unconditionally.  They need to know God as “Just Love.”  They need to live in communities that are all    about love.  Then they will be able to find hope and be love, no matter the circumstances they face. They     will have the capacity to adapt. They will know how to live well, even in the midst of great loss, because they know Just Love.  Love never fails.

That last sentence introduces one of the primary evidences of spiritual resilience, the capacity to grieve deeply until the ebb and flow of life turns once again to joy; and then to be open to this process again and again.  The last two sub-sections of God Is Just Love have the following titles:

“What Must I Grieve Tomorrow?”
“What Can I Love Today?” 

Ontologically speaking, (Sorry about the big word.  We are talking about the nature of being, the way things really are.) are grief and love the same thing?  Are loss and gain aspects of the same experience of being fully alive?  Which is to be embraced more fully, death or life?  Which is to be feared more, love or grief?  If love makes us incredibly vulnerable, maybe we must love with fear and trembling and grieve love’s loss with incredible hope in the resurrection that always follows.          

I still have not defined spiritual resilience.  But I will risk giving an example.  Paul; the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the letters in the Christian scriptures.  Paul of Tarsus, who learned how to give thanks for being blinded, shipwrecked, stoned, tortured and imprisoned.  Saint Paul who wrote, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  The mystical poet Paul who wrote:

            Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
                       It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered.
                         It keeps no record of wrongs. 
                             Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
                                     It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.          
                                          Love never fails.

                  Spiritual resilience is knowing and living the fact that love never fails.  Spiritual resilience is knowing that nothing, not even the principalities and powers of this world, not even death, defeats love.  For spiritually resilient people, death has lost its sting and life is lived without fear.

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