Resilience Vs Weakened
Detours in Life
Pentecost 46-65 Mega Post
Travel south in Interstate 65 between Birmingham and Montgomery and you pass through history. It is a trail of civil rights and farmers and if you happen to get stuck in a repaving project, you might find yourself detoured through the town of Prattville.
Most people have few positive thoughts regarding the state of Alabama unless you are talking football. At first glance, it appear as if the detour would confirm those negative thoughts. Prattville comes across as a sleepy little rural town where dust hangs in the air and farming is the mainstay of life. Detours afford us a chance to rethink and Prattville is certainly much more than just cornfields. This coming month, for example, there will be a fall pops concert, an art walk, and a community trick or treat opportunity for children to participate in centuries-old traditions safely.
What might not be quite so evident as you follow your detour back to the mainstream of society if that Prattville, Alabama is a member of the International Association of Character Cities. Each month a different character trait is emphasized. Additionally, citizens are encouraged to recognize that character begins with the individual. There is a pledge to take as well: “I pledge to… to practice the character quality of the month; to take the high road, the higher thought, the kinder word, and the best action in my daily life; to uphold what is true, right and just; to be a model of good character for those around me to operate with honesty and integrity in my dealings with others, and; to do my part to make the Autauga County and all its communities, including Prattville and surrounding cities, communities of good character where individuals and families are strong; homes and streets are safe; education is effective; business is productive; and citizens care for one another.”
September’s trait is resilience and that is often needed as we confront life’s detours. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, the resilient person will find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and continue. Resilient people do not see detours as a roadblock or dead end. They dee detours as a lesson and move forward, equipped with the new knowledge their detour has offered them.
Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell has written extensively on the topic of resiliency. “Over 100 years ago, the great African American educator Booker T. Washington spoke about resilience when he said, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles overcome while trying to succeed.” Research has since established resilience as essential for human thriving, an ability necessary for the development of healthy, adaptable young people. It’s what enables children to emerge from challenging experiences with a positive sense of themselves and their futures. Children who develop resilience are better able to face disappointment, learn from failure, cope with loss, and adapt to change. We recognize resilience in children when we observe their determination, grit, and perseverance to tackle problems and cope with the emotional challenges of school and life.
“Resilience is not a genetic trait. It is derived from the ways children learn to think and act when they are faced with obstacles, large and small. The road to resilience comes first and foremost from children’s supportive relationships with parents, teachers, and other caring adults. These relationships become sources of strength when children work through stressful situations and painful emotions. When we help young people cultivate an approach to life that views obstacles as a critical part of success, we help them develop resilience.
“Many teachers are familiar with Stanford Professor Carol Dweck’s important work with growth mindsets—a way of thinking that helps children connect growth with hard work and perseverance. Educator David Hochheiser wisely reminds us that developing growth mindsets is a paradigm for children’s life success rather than a pedagogical tool to improve grades or short-term goals. Simply put, it’s a way of helping children believe in themselves—often the greatest gift teachers give to their students.
“The ability to meet and overcome challenges in ways that maintain or promote well-being plays an essential role in how students learn to achieve academic and personal goals. Resilient young people feel a sense of control over their own destinies. They know they can reach out to others for support when needed, and they readily take initiative to solve problems. Teachers facilitate resilience by helping children think about and consider various paths through adversity. They also help by being resources, encouraging student decision-making, and modeling resilient competencies.”
Simply, we illustrate our own personal resiliency by learning from the detours in our lives.