Columbia Memorial Health (1) Careers

Living on Purpose: Being resilient when facing life’s challenges


By Dr. William Holland Jr.

For Capital Region Independent Media

I was having a conversation with a good friend the other day and he was telling me how life is becoming more difficult now that he is in his 80s.

When he was young he loved to jog and walk a couple of miles a day, and now he can hardly make it to the kitchen. I’m about 20 years younger, but I can definitely relate to my body and mind going through some changes.

I’ve always heard the lack of activity does not do us any favors as it seems the less we do, the less we can do. My mother is 84 and she stays active by going to church, shopping, eating out and walking around Walmart. It’s good for her to get out of the house and stay moving.

When my father passed away a few years ago, my sisters and I were concerned about how she would handle being on her own. You see, our parents are from the old-school tradition where my mom never worked outside the home.

My dad and his dad were in the construction business together and we all had a good life. That is, until he was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease and the latter half of his life was spent downsizing, being on dialysis, and getting his affairs in order. He showed mom how to pump gas, manage the checkbook, and pay the bills so when he passed, she could survive living alone.

There were six children in her family and she is the last living sibling, but my sisters and I are always there for her to make sure she has everything she needs.

Sometimes I will call in the middle of the day to check on her and she’s just watching reruns of all the old programs I grew up with. For the most part, she’s bored and tries to come up with ways to entertain herself. I’m proud of her as I realize that many people live alone and they do well, but after living with one person for so long, I’m sure it can be lonely at times.

I want to say that whatever you are struggling with today, God has placed strength and courage within you that you might not realize you have. Discouragement or victory is decided on the battlefield of your mind, and if you see yourself in a dark valley, this is where you believe you are. If you see yourself on the mountain basking in the brilliance of the sun, nothing but your own negativity can hinder your perseverance. 

When it comes to resilience, it’s inspiring to know that we can endure much more than we can imagine. At one time or another, we will experience some form of adversity, hardship or life-changing crisis and those who embrace an optimistic attitude will make it through to the other side.

Growing older can be added to the list of challenges much like serious health issues, financial problems, and relationship failures, just to mention a few. The good news is that problems cannot overcome you. You are only defeated when you stop fighting and praying.

So, how do people deal with serious events that threaten their future? It depends on how desperate they are to trust God and this includes being content and joyful.

Being positive or negative are learned behaviors and having faith in who God is and what He has promised is a constant choice. For example, when we read the book of Proverbs, we see that asking and receiving divine wisdom is an important key to understanding the purpose and meaning of our lives.

It’s true that we react to negative circumstances with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. However, we generally adapt well over time when we comprehend that resilience is an ongoing process that requires time to seek and comprehend truth.

Being resilient does not mean a person is without concerns, but it involves understanding that we can conquer fears that are trying to bluff us into giving up. Developing resilience is a personal journey where we train our minds to see what we believe instead of only believing what we see.

It’s crucial that we know ourselves and even more importantly to know what God is saying. To have an optimistic view of our existence and realize what is going on around us, we can examine our hearts, become aware of God’s presence, and seek different strategies that can provide peace, healing and a protective state of mind and spirit.

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