I absolutely love nature and watching footage of animals and the way they live and survive life in the wild with their families. A few weeks ago, I saw a video about a mama bear and her cub. In this video, it was wintertime. Snow covered the mountains and the trees shimmered from the brilliance of the white blankets and reflections of frozen yet transparent icicles as they hung like frozen tears. As beautiful as the scene was, my eyes were drawn to two black moving objects going upward in a zigzag, confusing and non-unified dance.  

The mama bear was climbing the side of a mountain, slipping but holding steady on the path. But then in the lower left corner, my eyes were drawn to the baby cub climbing the same mountain slipping but sadly she could not hold as steady as mom and toppled over many times having to start over. I was exhausted for the cub just seeing how difficult it was for her. The momma bear had put a wide gap ahead of her cub and she was almost near to the top of the mountain, but the cub was struggling and clearly expending more energy creating zigzags in the snow and toppling over at times. It was intriguing because they both were attempting to climb the same mountain, but their experiences were like night and day. Isn’t it true that we may all be in the same family, journeying through the same life experiences but yet experiencing them in marked and different ways.  

This momma bear reminded me of my own mom raising my siblings and I and then myself as a single mom raising my three kiddos working to get to various places and accomplishing various endeavors with our children following/learning from us when we succeeded or struggled. Some of the major tests or mountains we had to climb were the mountains of transitions, major life changes, grief and all that comes from the status change from dual parent homes to single parent homes. Life was not easy for us, and we both struggled knowing that it was not easy for our children either, but what we did know was that we had to keep reaching and climbing no matter what, hoping and praying that they would find the strength we had to never give up.  

Therapy was crucial for me and one of the many lessons I learned was that the best gift I could leave for my family was an example of how to bounce back from adversities with the tools which could be beneficial for them if they ever found themselves in some of the same challenges. In other words, I needed to leave templates and examples of resilient/winning living for my children so they could know that they don’t have to surrender to similar adversities, but they could make it out of them.  

That sounded so easy to do, but honestly, it was hard to accomplish! Why? Because the road to resiliency comes with facing many losses and finding ways to re-emerge, to try again, to win, to lose again, believe that you could win again, and then repeat the cycle over and over again as needed. This daunting but needed task always left my heart heavy, knowing that if they followed me, they would be slipping and sliding just like me, and I longed for the day when winning was more a part of my and their lives than failures. 

What really helped me begin to believe that it could be done were the stories of resiliency through and in God found not only in the Word of God, but in the testimonial history of His people bouncing back time and time again after challenges knocked them to the ground. Now of course they didn’t have the word resilience in their time but in our modern terms we can use the same description for how they overcame what life threw at them. The Oxford dictionary describes resilience as the capability or the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties toughness. It also has another definition and that is the ability of a substance or object to spring back onto shape; elasticity. I absolutely love, love these two definitions because I feel that they can mesh into simply one which is my version and that is resilience is the intrinsic component or the intrinsic catalyst within us which is the indwelling and activity of the Holy Spirit and our relationship and trust in God, which overrides and bypasses what would be the permanent downfall and shame from difficulties, suffering and hardship, to help us grasp the mindset of Jesus, producing the inward and outward fruit of spiritual renewal, healing, faith, hope, deliverance, joy, and victory. Resilient living means that it is possible in the midst of our highest pain, and our lowest of lows, to find a way through helpful resources (faith, prayer, relationships, therapy, etc.), to get back to our grounding center, where peace and balance strengthens us for the next round of life to come.  

Trust me, if I had not gone through therapy coupled with trauma and resilience training and certification, I would not have known what I am sharing here. Because unfortunately, we are not always able to find language to share our experiences, until we are given the language or see another living example, and then it all clicks making sense. I was given permission to use my resources which include my faith and happy places and they were the catalyst tools which helped me to discover that although I thought that in life I was not winning, the truth was that winning did not mean only when we think we have won, it also meant looking back at the path of resilience left behind by those who walked before us and learning the lessons they have left behind. Winning also means believing that although we have days where things do not go as we planned, we still win because if we are in Christ, we are set up to win because through His sacrifice He has left us a way to accomplish it.  

When we look at Jesus’ life, we discover that He went through many highs and lows, yet He always found a way to rebound and recenter Himself into wholesome and purposeful living. He did this through prayer, faith and trust in God, God’s wisdom, through His relationships, finding the joy and positives in every challenge, and He modeled His resiliency to His followers and eyewitnesses. The proof is in His disciples’ lives because although they experienced many painful seasons, they were able to bounce back to testify about their victory, faith and joy, which are some of the fruit of resilient living.  

So, where can we find the language from Jesus for His model and template to grow our resilience. I found an answer while watching the mamma bear and her cub. The mama bear as she tracked through the snow, although slipping at times, forged her way up to the top leaving a cleared path behind. It’s sort of like paving a road, pushing the obstacles which would make the journey longer, more difficult, dangerous, and maybe impossible to get through. Watching that poor little cub struggle as she stumbled and fell because she was too small to handle the path she was making was exhausting and personally relatable. But sitting in that ever seemingly futile space with her proved to be the best belaboring decision I could have because soon, and I believe with the help of the intuition God has given to His creation including us, she stumbled, crawled and climbed until she found the path of her mom and suddenly the climb experience shifted. She transitions from slipping and sliding to an easier and faster climb, walking in the path her mother walked before her and she quickly made it to top of the mountain.  

When I saw her triumphant moment, I had my aha moment and remembered these words of Jesus giving the world the map to find His path for us to maneuver through life and to strengthen our walk with Him. I believe that they speak directly to the call to following Him in every high and low season, back to an anchored place of peace and victory in God.  

John 14:6 (NIV) “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

The story of the history of God leading His children shows that when they followed in the path He made for them, He gave them strength, courage and a way of escape out of every hard season they encountered. And when they made it out, they had testimonies which not only included the hard times, but the wins, peace and joy found in God. The word of this timeless hymn by Fanny Crosby “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” adds a tune to this message for me and reminds me that any victory I or my family have enjoyed, has been because Jesus made a way for us to win.  

“All the Way My Savior Leads Me”  

All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.