Monday 28 December 2009

Member Care and Resiliency—Part 2

Hydro Humans
Molecular structure for H2O—Hydrogen Hydroxide—Water (Wikipedia)

Human resiliency is the ability to face reality:
to deal with and grow through life’s challenges.

How resilient are you?
You may never know until you experience a drought.

If resiliency were a molecule, what would it look like? I think that it would look like the H2O molecule above. The two H’s would be: Human inner strength on one side and Human relational support on the other side. In the middle and at the core would be one's connection with GOD. This connection especially includes the experiential knowledge of God’s goodness in spite of the presence of evil in life as well as one's overall sense of meaning/purpose in life.

Resiliency is like water. Water is the most common substance on the planet and a basis for life. Three days without water and our bodies and minds quickly shut down. Death becomes imminent. Likewise resiliency is necessary for a healthy life and at times even for survival. Without the three intermingled components of resiliency—inner perseverance, relational encouragement, and God/meaning—we quickly succumb to the demands of this life. Both water and resiliency are basic human needs.

Resiliency is best understood as being on a continuum. It is not an all or nothing quality. And resilient humans are normal folks with ordinary weaknesses who are learning how to access sustaining/refreshing water even during the “droughts” of life (Jeremiah 17:7,8). Resilient people have developed three essential aquatic qualities:

1. They have sustaining/refreshing water deep within themselves
(characterized by ongoing perseverance; Romans 5:3-5)

2. They know how to give and receive sustaining/refreshing water
(characterized by ongoing encouragement from one another; Hebrews 3:13)

3. They stay close to the Main Source of sustaining/refreshing water
(God, the Fountain of Living Water (Jeremiah 2:13) who gives perseverance and encouragement (Romans 15:4) as well as purpose and meaning (Ephesians 2:10).

Water characterizes the lives of resilient people.
They are hydro humans.

A young boy drinks rain water at a camp for displaced people
in Eldoret, Kenya, 2008. (c) 2008 IRIN . Used by permission.

Notes, Quotes, and More
1. Conference. Here is another entry from Dr. Vance and Dr. Bethyl Shepperson’s weblog “The Encouragers” (22 November 2009). It is a notation from a presentation by Scott Shaum on resiliency at this year’s Mental Health and Missions Conference (19-22 November 2009).

“Resiliency lives with adversity and is honed by it. We don’t rejoice in suffering but in the result it achieves within us…Unfairness in marketplace, medical conditions, parenting problems, elder care—all of this counts to create endurance and the character of Christ within us.”

2. Book. The next brief quote is from John Fawcett’s edited book, Stress and Trauma Handbook: Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments (2003)--click here to see a book review.

“But protection against the major impacts of traumatic stress is not only possible—it is critical for al humanitarian and welfare agencies…A significant method of protecting staff against serious stress injury is to work on improving organisational factors such as management capacity and team functioning. (p.2)…the objective of stress and trauma management is not merely to protect local and expatriate staff but to encourage them to grow, flourish, and sow the seeds of well-being among colleagues and communities in which they work and live…One of the most effective ways both to protect and to flourish is to maintain excellent social relationships within and outside the work environment. (p.5) …Our findings suggest that strong relationships afford the best protection in traumatic and stressful environments.” (p.6)

3. Video. MediaStorm is one of many organizations providing helpful video reports and stories about life and international issues. It describes its online publications as “an eclectic showcase of multimedia storytelling.” For instance, check out the eight minute video gem, Friends for Life on the supportive relationship of two older men in the USA. Other examples of personal stories and international media reports are listed on the Media that Matters section of our Member Caravan website.

4. Tool. There are a number of brief tools for assessing areas related to resiliency. One example is the Social Provision Scale which measures different aspects of interpersonal relationships. The link here includes no norms. We use such tools to help folks get a general sense of how they are doing and to discuss strengths, weaknesses, and coping strategies.

5 Music. Carole King. You’ve Got a Friend. This is Carole King’s classic song which appeared on her 1971 album, Tapestry. It was also popularized by James Taylor.

Trust God.
Stay the course.
May water flow to and from you.

Reflection and Discussion
1. What are some of the characteristic of someone you know who is a hydro human?

2. Think of a trusted friend. How do you know he/she is trustworthy?

3. What types of responses did you have as you watched the Friends for Life video? Who will be there for you when you are old? Who will you be there for when he/she is old?

4. Recall a situation when you have wondered about God’s goodness and/or whether God had your best interests in mind. How was this situation resolved and what did you learn?

5. The above descriptions and applications of resiliency can also be applied to teams and organizations. Give a few examples.

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