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because the Lord will help them up.
Millennials. Everybody seems to have an opinion on this generation of young adults. Some call them "snowflakes" or "entitled." Leadership and management expert, Simon Sinek has great insights on millennials. He notes that they tend to have lower self-esteem, fewer coping mechanisms, great impatience, and work in bad leadership environments, a cocktail that steals joy. Bedrock values that were once imparted by parents to children have now faded away. Rather than allowing our kids to struggle, to stumble, to work things through, the paradigm shifted in the mid-1980's through the late 1990's. It became one of giving all kids participation trophies and constantly telling them how magnificent they are.
Last week I wrote about RETROSPECT as a must-have gift for the New Year. In order to feel empowered for the days we face ahead, it is incredibly edifying to reflect on how far we have come.
Today I would like to suggest that the second must-have gift for the New Year -- one that returns our kids to those core bedrock values -- is RESILIENCY. A childhood diagnosis offers a unique crossroads where we can either embrace the opportunity to teach our kids the life skill of resiliency or reject the opportunity, fostering the difficulties that have plagued many in the millennial generation.
Because our children are pushed down more often by circumstances or by people around them, they have the opportunity to practice getting back up again, and again, and again. While it is painful for us to watch as parents, cheering them on without coddling is incredibly gratifying. For instance, the every-other-day intravenous infusions our son has endured for 16 years had been a tremendous challenge, especially because post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complicating factor. Nevertheless, with a psychologist's use of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) our son was able to challenge his own thoughts. I was able to positively reinforce him and assure him that I knew he could do it. I also took away privileges when he refused to try. It was extremely effective. Taking small steps and setting small goals, he was able to push through his anxiety and pain. When he had setbacks, he knew he could start from the beginning and progress again. Now he is completely self-infusing, rarely needing my help with treatment. That's HUGE!
Lasting resiliency is found in Christ alone. Keeping our eyes fixed on Him and directing our children's gaze to do the same gives us hope and helps us to rise again. Jesus himself encouraged us, "...Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, NLT)
Those who have gone before us knew the value of resiliency -- pushing on, shaking off troubles, ignoring criticism. They were able to do that because they knew who they were in Christ. The Apostle Paul offers a great example in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10,
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)He knew that he did not have strength of his own enough to keep getting back up after all the adversity he faced. But when he yielded fully to God and His will, that Matchless Power could keep him going.
When we learn the treasure of resiliency and teach it to our children, we embrace the accompanying gifts that come with it including perseverance, inspiration, and a joy that doesn't hinge upon circumstances. A child who learns to get back up again after being knocked down today will be a leader tomorrow. Grit and grace will be their garments.
I don't know about you, but if my child has to face the adversity of a serious diagnosis, I want him or her to be able to fight back. And when the load becomes too heavy to bear, I want my child to know that ability to bounce back comes from God anyway. This way they are assured that when they are weak, Jesus in them is still very strong.
What better gift to take into the New Year?!
PRAY: Lord, I am weak and broken, but You are boundlessly strong. When I feel that I can't get up again, I will refuse to give up. Your power shines brightest through a broken vessel like me. I praise You because I know that Your Holy Spirit power will give me everything I need to persevere and rise again.
~ Barb Dittrich
*RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Building Resilience in Children – 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies (Backed by Science) [EXCELLENT, simple steps to take!]