Monday, August 27, 2012

The Unexplainable Nature of Resiliency


I’ve woven threads of resiliency into every single one of my protagonists, but I’m certain I’ll explore the unexplainable nature of this enigmatic human behavior at greater lengths in a future novel.
My mom and I have hour-long conversations on the topic. And I gravitate toward reading any book bestowing this theme.

Resiliency.
Why do some people bounce back while others give in to a state of dwindling despair?

I’m finding UNBROKEN, the harrowing account of an Olympian turned WWII crash survivor turned POW, near impossible to put down. And I keep playing one question over in my mind.
As an Olympic runner

Over a month at sea following his plane crash, haunted by sharks, blisters slicing open his skin, and hunger difficult to conceptualize
Enduring repeated cruel physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional brutality from those in charge of the POW camps

What made Louis Zamperini go on?
I’ve encountered rough seasons when I’ve felt emotionally, mentally, and spiritually pummeled, but nothing to the extent of what I’m reading. There’s no doubt I’m one hundred percent inspired by Zamperini’s persistence and resiliency. I recognize a flicker of it in myself. It’s that fight thing I’ve got going on whenever I sense I’m being dragged under. The incurable optimist in me bursting from the depths.

I can’t answer in entirety why Zamperini survived—what cultivated the fight in him. Most certainly it’s tied into resiliency.
I can say for me it always comes back to a little thing called faith. That “little thing” that has won over all fear and hopelessness in my life yesterday, today, and forever. That’s where the will to go on lives for me.

My desire is to broach thoughts about resiliency with you today. Read the following two passages from UNBROKEN. (This specific scene reflects on the extended time the three soldiers spent at sea in the aftermath of their plane crash.)

“Mac’s resignation seemed to paralyze him, and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most. Louie and Phil’s optimism, and Mac’s hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling.”

 “Though they both knew that they were in an extremely serious situation, both had the ability to warn fear away from their thoughts*, focusing instead on how to survive and reassuring themselves that things would work out. It remains a mystery why these three young men, veterans of the same training and the same crash, differed so radically in their perceptions of their plight. Maybe the difference was biological; some men may be wired for optimism, others for doubt…” (*bold mine)
Tell me what you’re thinking. What does it take to make someone resilient? Have you bumped up against the unexplainable nature of resiliency?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

 

 

16 comments:

  1. I loved UNBROKEN too, Wendy. What an inspirational story. Not only for his younger years, but later in his life as well.

    I think all writers have to be resilient and persistent. I don't want to be the type of person who simply gives up every time I run into a setback.

    Thanks for this post!

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    1. I got to the later in life part today. Agree with you about Louis and with writers!

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  2. AH! I totally want to read this book. I keep hearing amazing things and it's been on my "I should really add this to be TBR" pile. :)

    I love both of those passages. Powerful shtuff.

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    1. It is powerful shtuff, isn't it? :D I might just have to send you a surprise package.

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  3. I need to read this story; thanks for the info and inspiration. :) I met someone yesterday who came through very difficult circumstances as well. He was determined to trust and serve God, and God met him and provided in amazing ways. It's yet another inspiring story that encourages and helps me keep perspective.

    Have a great week,
    Karen :)

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    1. I feel like so often I have such a messy faith--so much push and pull. It truly inspires me when people hold fast and strong!

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  4. I need to read that book!

    Resiliency. Yes. I think a big piece of it comes from deep down gut trust that God is good, that he loves us and that even when life sucks, he's there. And in that sentence you bolded, there's another key, I think--taking every fearful thought captive. Taking every thought captive...

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    1. Taking every thought captive is huge! I remember a Beth Moore study where she admitted to going through a dry season of faith. She trusted God at the time but didn't feel him. It left a great impression on me. And I think of it in those times I struggle in my faith.

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  5. That's a great quality for characters and people to have. Resiliency will keep you going when everything tells you to stop or that you can't.
    Resiliency changes the world- not just you!

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    1. I love your point about how it changes others. When we're resilient we never know the influence we're having on another. Excellent point.

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  6. I love how you tied resiliency and faith together. For me, the two cannot be torn apart--the latter is necessary for the former to exist.

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    1. I think this is why this topic fascinates me so much. I get it for you and me that faith is part of the bundle, but I think on this book--about Louis. He didn't cling to his faith until later in life. It makes me think of the undeniable way God is there for us even when we have no awareness of it or are outwardly rejecting him in some ways. Blows the mind.

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  7. Ahh, this is why it's nice to be back here. You always inspire me. :) I think faith plays a major role in resiliency. 100% agree with Lindsay!

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    1. I also wonder if some if it doesn't have to do with wiring. Perspective. Ability to see beyond the current surroundings. And while my faith has absolutely changed everything for me, I'm beginning to see how God's working in things and people when it might not seem that way at all.

      Love the conversation today!

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  8. I read this book last year and smoked through it. I lent it to a Naval Officer friend of mine and haven't gotten it back. That's fine!
    Louis Zamperini is in a league with Corrie Ten Boom. To know that Louis went back from whence hell discharged him blows my mind. Corrie did the same thing.

    I know someone who has: been born and raised in an active war zone, emigrated, dealt with crippling arthritis, heart attacks, cancer, racism, kidney problems, hip replacements and is in constant pain. When I feel like complaining, I think of him and suck it up. He will not give in, he's the most resilient person I know. He's my dad.

    They all simply refuse to give in to an nth of what will begin the slow descent into despair and death.
    And they all have something in common with all things made of pure gold, they were forged by fire.

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  9. I haven't read this book, but I'd like to pick it up.

    When I'm going through difficulties, I fight the tendency to go down negative pathways in my thoughts. They won't help me get through the situation. Instead, I do my best to focus on the Lord and His Word. Faith makes all the difference because it combats hopelessness.

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