In our last blog I mentioned the ‘resilience coaching’ the writer of the Hebrews gives to his community. In chapter 12, I love that picture of a ‘great cloud of witness’ surrounding each of us: the cheering, wisdom, cautioning, encouraging of the saints who have gone before and those who run beside us, as we resolutely pursue Jesus. This picture reminds us that we are not alone as we seek Jesus and his justice. We do so surrounded by the voices of others.
Lots of the research I have done into resilience talks about the power of the voices that we listen to, and particularly the power of the voice in our own head.
We all have one but maybe we’re not always that conscious of what our inner voice says. When you fail at something, is your voice unkindly critical or does it see failure as a helpful way to improve? When you’re upset, do you grin and bear it, silencing your voice that wants to burst into tears? When you’re feeling down, does your inner voice encourage you to wallow in self pity or does it gently instruct you with healthy boundaries?
Whether it’s Lucy Hone¹, the resilient specialist talking about losing her 12 year old daughter to a car crash, Amanda Eller² a woman lost alone in the Hawiian jungle for over two weeks, or Bhakti Sharma³, a record breaking open water swimmer, many resilient people talk about cultivating their ‘inner compass’ or ‘inner voice’. Instead of denying feelings of sadness or suppressing grief, these people allowed those emotions to be expressed through talking to others or through journaling. Instead of getting angry or frustrated with themselves or with their failures, they saw failure as a way to improve and exercise self-compassion. When Amanda was overwhelmed in a hard situation, her inner voice gave her permission for a bit of time out. When Lucy wanted to spend hours looking through photos of her daughter, her inner voice reminded her that this wasn’t helpful for her, and that she should do something else. When Bhakti felt like she couldn’t do her next race, her inner voice told her that she had done swimming before and could do it again. We are able to better weather hard situations if our inner voice is kind, disciplined, gentle and gracious. Essentially, we want our inner voice to sound like Jesus.
In addition to our own voice, it’s important that we listen to the right voices of those who have gone before us. The picture in Hebrews 12 is of us being surrounded by the men and women of faith. Our Christian heritage is full of fantastically resilient people. Are we actively learning from them? Of course we need to listen to voices not only in the past but also in the present. When it comes to leadership development, practicing spiritual disciplines or understanding the best way for us to engage in a justice issue, we need to make sure that we are listening to the voices of people who know more than we do. Through listening we will learn how we can engage in difficult situations of justice, theology and leadership and therefore grow in our resilience.
Finally, we need to listen to the voices of others running the race besides us. Research into the characteristics of resilient people shows that they are well connected and have a strong circle of deep friendships which they can rely on for support in difficult situations.⁴ As a network, we want to be a place where deep, long-lasting relationships are built – relationships that sharpen, stretch and strengthen us as we continue to seek justice even when things are hard.
With this in mind, we are excited to announce that we will be launching Just Love Alumni Sixes this summer. As Just Love alumni, we want to be actively grappling with the complexities of pursuing justice so that we can live in a way that brings about tangible, lasting change for our world. Sixes will enable us to do this through listening to the voices of one another, and key experts. We will equip groups of up to six alumni with high quality courses which will include links to thought-provoking Ted talks, books and articles, video interviews with insightful experts and stimulating discussion questions, each module focusing on issues in theology, leadership and impact.
We can’t wait to have you join us in this new phase of our network. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on our social media.