I just finished Christian author and counselor John Eldredge‘s “Resilient: Restoring your weary soul in these turbulent times,” the perfect read after all we’ve been facing. He used the recent pandemic and prophecies about the end of the age to share with readers a way to access the source of our resiliency and strength found in Jesus Christ.
Eldredge said “comfort culture” has made us softies with our easy and fast access to so many of our wants and needs. We’ve become less resilient than previous generations. For example, my grandparents lived through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II. They became more creative and resourceful when facing supply shortages. They learned how to tighten their belts and band together in their communities. They didn’t have this vast access to up-to-the-minute news and demands for their time from electronic devices.
Eldredge said we likewise have been through trauma with the global pandemic. Even before the pandemic though, he said we were headed toward burnout. We already had the perfect storm brewing with the constant connection to social media and steady stream of news updates on the death count, mask wars, the need for a vaccine and then societal and political unrest. No one could make plans. The end seemed nowhere in sight. Now, we just want things to go back to normal, he said. We want life to be good again.
But he said the last years of grief, loss, fear, strife, heartache and soul-crushing desolation took a toll on the human spirit. Eldredge then said something Karl Mordo said to Dr. Strange in the Marvel movie: “The bill comes due.” People who stayed the course during the pandemic had to rally many times. They didn’t have time to recovery and replenish their emotional and mental stores. Even when it looked like things were back to normal, people found that sense of desolation and disquiet in their spirits. Many became like camels who will walk many miles through the desert showing no signs of distress …and then drop dead (an example from the opening chapter).
Eldredge thankfully didn’t wait to help readers learn how to regain a spirit of resilience. He discussed skills in every chapter to help draw from the river of life found in Jesus Christ, the sustainer and ruler of life and the universe. Nothing escapes God’s notice. Nothing is out of His control. Eldredge wanted readers to cling to this fact and ask for God’s strength to endure and draw upon His endless supply of resilience. He encouraged readers to become “singlehearted” and make God the center of their daily lives. We need to take our attention off the world and refocus attention to our part in His love story.
Eldredge shared stories of people who survived (and didn’t survive) traumatic events in a way that drew me in and had me scouring the Internet for more information. For example, in chapter 5, Eldredge talked about the importance of the mother in childhood development. “Mother wounds” develop from poor attachment. We have a primal need for an “assurance of abundance” at our birth and moms because the source of that love and reassurance that she will supply our needs, just like God supplies His children.
One footnote in that chapter led me to look up Dr. Robert Karen’s “Becoming Attached.” I checked out the book online for an hour through this free library called “Internet Archive.” Dr. Karen talked about a silent film with “grainy, flickering images” of “Jane, a little Black baby” whose mother left for a three-month period. It comes from this 1947 study called “Grief: A Peril in Infancy.” I actually found the video he talked about, an original silent film with headings from child psychologist Katherine Wolf and psychoanalyst René Spitz. They provided the film evidence as part of their research that focused on the effect of long-term absence from their mother during the first year of life.
Eldredge used this idea of new birth and the bond of child with mother to then connect to something philosopher Dallas Willard shared with him. Willard said salvation in Jesus Christ created a new attachment between us and God. When we are saved, we are essential “born again” and are a new creation. Salvation is “the soul’s loving bond to our loving God.” He reminded me of the imagery in this verse about the love of God,
“Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!” — Isaiah 49:15 NLT
I loved that image of our God as a loving mother, which is appropriate because this weekend is Mother’s Day weekend. I enjoyed Eldredge’s book and know it’s one I will purchase when it releases June 7, 2022. I plan to take part in the “30 Days of Resilience.” Eldredge provided prayers at the end of each chapter. The prayers were everything – well-written, beautifully expressed, and true to the skills Eldredge taught in each chapter. All of the prayers were at the very end as well as the footnotes. Thank you to Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson for the draft e-copy of Eldredge’s Resilient: Restoring your soul in these turbulent times.”
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