Whilst we all like the joyous side of our faith (eg. testimonies, promises and blessings), all of us, at some point, will experience what I call life’s unscripted moments. These include loss, separation, ill health, hardship, disappointment and other distressing situations.
These unwanted intruders invade our lives and can leave devastation in their wake. And just like in the case of a tsunami, we have to rebuild our lives. Pressing on and moving forward, in spite of ‘life’ happening, becomes a must – albeit hard at times.
That said, I have come across some people who seem to bounce back no matter what life throws at them. Whilst Apostle Paul is a great biblical example, the people I have observed are everyday people like you and me. By the way, these folk are not ‘super-spiritual’ (whatever that means). Neither do they have an extra dollop of anointing. Nor are they superhuman with nerves/bones of steel.
They are just regular people.
These ‘Bounce-Back Heroes’, as I like to call them, tend to turn their challenging situations into something positive. Furthermore, they seem to grow from their experiences and positively transform the course of their lives. In recent years, psychologists have termed this phenomenon as post-traumatic growth, where people experience positive change as a result of a challenging life situation or traumatic event.
But we already knew that! After all, the Bible is littered with instances of God’s ability to not only keep us through stormy times, but also work all things out for our good (Romans 8:28).
“How can I bounce back and experience positive change after all that has happened to me?” is a question I hear a lot. So I started collating stories of everyday ‘Bounce-Back Heroes’, along with the strategies and mindsets they adopted. This was how my latest book, Bounce Back! How to survive, thrive and maximise challenging life situations (978-0-9926195-2-7), came about.
So, let’s consider a few ways to bounce back.
Flip Your Adversity On Its Head
This is exactly what Zoe and Andy Coates did.
They suffered loss through a number of miscarriages. Having to say Goodbye to each child they lost was difficult for them. Yet, this Christian couple never gave up, and pressed on. Today, they have two beautiful daughters. But their story did not end there.
They chose to flip their adversity on its head by deciding to offer support to others going through similar journeys, and so they launched the Mariposa Trust (www.mariposatrust.org) and, later on, Saying Goodbye (www.sayinggoodbye.org). Today, their website has over 650,000 hits per month, supporting tens of thousands weekly.
Zoe and Andy made a conscious decision to make something good out of their losses, and to touch other people’s lives. They are living proof that, as long as we are willing, God can turn our darkest moments into a ray of light in someone else’s world. The question is, will we allow Him to do so?
Victim or Victor? You Choose!
Some time ago, I heard the story of a young schoolgirl in Guatemala, called Griselda (www.ijm.org/griseldas-story). Griselda was coming back from church in a car with her mother and brother, when another car cut in front of theirs. Griselda was dragged out of the car and taken by three men, who went on to rape her.
Griselda was thirteen!
At this tender age, she now had to live with the trauma of that violation – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Thankfully, through the work of the International Justice Mission (IJM), Griselda not only received therapy, but her perpetrators were brought to justice.
What marvelled me about Griselda was her ‘victor’ mindset. Refusing to be a victim, she took up an internship with IJM, where she was able to help other girls who had experienced similar ordeals. Her desire was to make her pain count for something.
Reflecting on her story, it is evident Griselda experienced post-traumatic growth. However, this was as a result of a choice she had made: she chose to be a victor. Another important choice Griselda made was to forgive her perpetrators. This, in itself, is a huge stumbling block for many Christians, and blights many people’s ability to move forward. Oh, how I wish we could see the damaging effects of unforgiveness.
From Griselda’s story, we are reminded of God’s restorative power when we allow the greatest Heart Surgeon into our hearts.
From my research, one thing was clear: Embracing the right mindset, as set out in God’s Word, is the key to bouncing back. One of such is keeping hope alive. Being hopeful is a choice, and is the ‘stuff’ that keeps us going even in our darkest moments.
Another is an understanding that adversity/suffering needn’t destroy us. Rather, it can be the platform God uses to fulfil His purpose and maximise our potentials. So don’t waste your pain! Instead, create meaning out of your life experiences. Take this one step further by paying it forward in the life of someone else. Trust me when I say that many can benefit from your story. After all, God has a knack of using our ‘tests’ as a basis for our testimonies, our ‘mess’ to become our message, and our stories to form part of HIStory.
So bounce back, ‘cos God has got your back.
Written by Gladys Famoriyo – Speaker and Author of ‘Bounce Back!’, ‘Quit Hiding, Start Living!’, ‘Healing A Discouraged Heart’ and ‘Overcoming Emotional Baggage’. www.gladysf.com