Resilient People Are {The Grove: Resilience}

Resiliency on the field is not a given.

According to Faith De La Cour, a Director of Member Care, “Resilience is the process of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences. Resilient people overcome adversity, bounce back from setbacks, and can thrive under extreme, ongoing pressure without acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways. On the other hand, people who are less resilient may dwell on problems, feel victimized or become overwhelmed and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms including addictive behaviors such as drugs, alcohol and pornography.”

She also cites an interesting study of cross-cultural workers exposed to trauma while on the field in Africa and continued to serve. Read about it here.

If you have been on the field any length of time, you know that not all people are resilient to the same degree or in the same way. While this might be a bit discouraging, the good new about resiliency is that you can become more resilient. You foster habits, spiritual practice, and thought patterns that will build your resiliency muscles.

I love that God doesn’t just say, “Hey, be more resilient. Okay?” And then go hunt for a scone to go with His hot tea. Instead He left us His word and used plenty of hot messes who loved Him to show us how to foster resiliency. And bonus? Many of them were cross-cultural folks like us.

Resilient people are like David. They admit when they are wrong and ask God to create a new heart in them.

Resilient people are like Moses. They ask God for what they need. Sometimes when God says, “No, you don’t need that,” they ask again. And maybe again and again.

Resilient people are like Hannah. They cry when their heart is broken. They don’t suck it up and pretend whatever is going on doesn’t hurt. They are able to name their hurts and pains. They also have discretion and share with some, not all.

Resilient people are like Hosea. They are willing to be misunderstood. Sometimes God asks you to do crazy things. Or at least they may look crazy. But if He has asked you to befriend someone, leave some place, study some obscure language, take a leadership position where you have less contact with locals, or put your child before your ministry, being understood is not your greatest aim; obedience is. Resilient people choose obedience over being understood.

Resilient people are like Joseph. They take a stand. It might not be popular and it might cost you, but like Joseph, they are able to say one day, “You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good.”

Resilient people are like Paul. They will have periods of obscurity. After Paul’s conversion, he spent several years—YEARS, not days, weeks, or months, years—out of the ministry lime light. Their Facebook  and Instagram may look boring. But they know that what the camera captures is but a fraction of the grounds they walk.

Resilient people are like Naomi. They do not go it alone. Even though Naomi lost her husband and sons, she did not cut herself off from relationships. She allowed Ruth to return with her. She introduced Ruth to gleaning and to Boaz. She grieved, yes, but she did not isolate.

Resilient people are like Peter. They are willing to change. Can you imagine eating pork after tying your identity, and faithfulness to God to NOT eating pork? Resilient people know when to take a stand, but they also know when to change.

Resilient people are again like Paul. They know how to rejoice. Paul went through a boatload of stuff. And he wasn’t afraid to remind people of the ship wrecks, imprisonment, and beatings. However, he is also known for writing “The Epistle of Joy.” Rejoice, I’ll say it again, rejoice. It’s the “I’ll say it again” that endears me.

Resilient people are like Mary and Martha. They know how to love deeply in their own way. Look at how they interacted with Jesus. They served him differently, spent time with him differently, even expressed their grief over their brother’s death differently. Yet both loved deeply. Love deeply in the way God has wired and gifted you.

God doesn’t just say, “Hey, be more resilient. Okay?” Yet he loves you and as you read has sparked an area for you to consider. Which of these areas come more naturally to you? Which might the Holy Spirit be nudging you to spend time with?


This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesResilience. You can add yours!


  1. Deb Smith June 8, 2017

    This is great, Amy! I love the brief character sketches from the Bible.

      1. Deb Smith June 9, 2017

        WHOA! Sorry that photo is so big! I meant for it to be my profile photo. Whoops!
        I see now that I can do it at

  2. Sarah Hilkemann June 8, 2017

    I think before this week I equated resiliency with staying, and I equate staying with not failing. The posts this week and the things you shared in this post have been helping me reshape my thinking. Obviously being able to persevere and work through the messy, hard times is a good thing and helpful for being able to stay. But there’s also a resiliency needed for transitioning back to our passport country, or really any transition. It’s a lot bigger than just staying or not staying, or where we are in the world. It is more about a strength to hold tight to Jesus and flow with whatever He brings along in our journey.

    The examples you shared are really helpful! I really appreciate the last one about Mary and Martha, about loving and serving in the ways that fit with the way God created us. I need this reminder so often! I struggle with feeling like I’m not the “right” type of overseas worker, that my weaknesses disqualify me, and therefore I am “less than”. I’ve been on a journey the last 6 months of trying to first understand some of the unique ways that God created me, and then embrace those as good and good enough. I haven’t quite gotten to a place of seeing how those fit with my work and place right now… but hopefully that will come too. 🙂

    Thank you for this, Amy!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann June 8, 2017

      One thing that helps my resiliency: finding ways to do the things I love. One thing for me is finding a quiet coffee shop, and spending Friday mornings processing, writing, and sipping a latte. 🙂

    2. Amy Young June 8, 2017

      Sarah, unbeknownst to you, you tossed me a soft ball :). So, I can’t help but hit at it. I agree COMPLETELY that sometimes we equate staying on the field with success and leaving with failure. On numerous occasions I’ve had conversations with people and asked them if maybe, in their case, staying was actually the failure and leaving was the success because it seemed that God was leading towards leaving . . . and if that was where he was leading, to stay, just for the sake of staying didn’t seem the right reason.

      I was also talking this mooing with a group of young people — they are starting a summer ministry internship (love the enthusiasm of those fresh to ministry!!!) about how The Enemy of our soul wants to narrow down a story and have us live in these small boxes. I think that it another way of saying “lesser than.” Sarah, I hope that these past six months have replaced the messages you hear and instead you hear from the lover of your soul. You hear, “You are just right. You were made to do this in your own way. You are capable. You are my child and I delight in watching you in Cambodia. I delight in your interacting in your very wonderful Sarah way.”

      1. Sarah Hilkemann June 9, 2017

        THANK YOU, Amy!! 😀 I love how you said the enemy wants us to live in small boxes, what a great way to think about it! I don’t love that he does it though. 🙂 So often I find that when I get stuck, or start thinking negatively about something, I need a perspective shift or a different way of looking at things. This isn’t normally my personality, so I am thankful for other people in my life who remind me to get out of small box thinking.

    3. Michelle S June 9, 2017

      Sarah, I could have about written your second paragraph myself! I’ve felt like I’m so not the “right” type for my role and been tempted to think that God made a mistake in calling me here to fill this role. But of course I know He can’t make a mistake, so instead I blame myself and feel like a failure and “less than.” In the last 6 months I too have been on a journey of understanding how God created me, and that He created me to be exactly who He wants me to be, and that who He created me is good in His sight–and not just “good,” but it truly delights Him. And…like you…”I haven’t quite gotten to a place of seeing how those fit with my work and place right now… but hopefully that will come too.” Let’s keep seeking to know His heart and His perfect plan for us!

      1. Sarah Hilkemann June 9, 2017

        Thank you for sharing, Michelle! It is so encouraging to hear of others who are on a similar journey. 🙂

    4. Lindsey Brewer June 10, 2017

      This is SO me!! I constantly feel like I am not the “right” kind of overseas worker and that all the women here I see have it together and enjoy all the ministry that is required of them! I am an introvert so moving overseas was so completely out of my comfort zone with language learning, making new friends and all the dang small talk that is required in all of that. UG. I really have to force myself to open up to new relationships and not just hole up in my house all day..NOT the best personality traits for someone serving overseas! I am like you in trying so hard to find my place here and where my specific gifts can be used. Praying for both of us that God will reveal how we can grow where we are planted! 🙂

      1. Sarah Hilkemann June 10, 2017

        Lindsey, I’m an introvert too and am saying, “Yes and amen” to your comments. 🙂 It has been a long journey of not seeing introversion as a disqualification, but a lack of understanding makes that difficult some times! Definitely praying with you that we can all see God’s delight in us (as Amy said in her comment above), find ways to be healthy and thrive just as we are, and also see how we can be used for the Kingdom with our personality and gifts and not despite them.

        1. Amy Young June 10, 2017

          Michelle, Lindsey, Sarah, and others — I’ve been thinking about your comments all day. I think the three of you saying variations of a theme is an invitation for all of us to say, “Okay God, clearly you have something for us here.” I want to pay attention and not miss what he has :). That all three of you have the sense that you are defected because of introversion, gives me pause that we—all the we’s (at VA, in your organizations, in churches)—need to be aware of this bias and perception and directly speak against it. AND honor the way that you are wired and the gifts you each bring to the field.

          This is nearing the time of day that my brain shuts off, so I’m going to leave it at this for the time being and see what else God may have for us in this conversation. Thank you all!

    5. M'Lynn June 11, 2017

      Sarah, I didn’t get around to reading VA much this week and the theme of resiliency didn’t pull me in because, as it turns out (and as I discovered while reading your comment) I equated resilient people with the ones who stay. Since I recently left, this theme threatened me. Reading this Grove post and your comment (and Amy’s response) reminded me that obedience and continuing to follow Jesus wherever the path leads is resiliency, not simply staying. Amy also points out “being understood is not your greatest aim; obedience is.” YES!!! And…So far… Transitioning back to the place where we once were that now feels different and unfamiliar but the same all at once has tested my resiliency once again!!!

  3. Katie Rose June 8, 2017

    This is was SO great, Amy. Wow. Thank you. Especially for this line:

    “Being understood is not your greatest aim; obedience is. Resilient people choose obedience over being understood.”

    Love love love that. SO much. Needed this today. I want to be understood when I return to the States as I am here in this community. But the obedience is to return; the obedience is to follow Him even when it takes you a completely different direction than you’ve been walking for years. And many people just won’t get it. But, He does. And that’s all that matters.

    Thank you.

    1. Amy Young June 8, 2017

      Oh I get wanting to be understood :). This is one of the conversations God and I have been having recently.

    1. Amy Young June 10, 2017

      And I you, Patty. I love you and am grateful for our friendship.

  4. Kristi June 9, 2017

    Thank you for this Amy. It was a great source of reflection and helped to put my feet on the Unshakable. Below are some of my “reflections”.

    The Mark

    Our messes may
    Mark us
    But they won’t
    They are ornaments of
    Trophies of His
    In a life that is fully
    A sign of
    Obedient courage
    When fear
    Forgetful faltering
    His Word is
    Companion and Guide
    Causing chaos
    To shine
    And grief
    To glow with a
    That can only be seen
    Unmeasured grace
    As it transforms
    The well measured
    Into a magnificent

    Love you!

    1. Amy Young June 10, 2017

      Kristi, I love reading your poetry and seeing your own resiliency through it! “A life that is fully lived” — yes, that’s it. If only messes and pain could be avoided, but that is not realistic :). For now. Some day! Some day.

  5. Amy Johnson June 10, 2017

    Glad for the article and especially the comments. Wonderfully supportive and insightful. Helps me on my healing journey which began in 2008 when I left the field in a traumatic way and have been resiliently trying to live in the “new normal” since then. I am so grateful to look back and reflect on how Jesus has held me up and helped me move forward. He has been my strength. I like that the original post links to one stating that good member care can help with resiliency. But that is not mentioned in the velvet ashes post. I fear that the idyll of “M as hero or uber-person” still gets perpetuated, with little or no emphasis on the Church’s own responsibility/role. The Church and Organization leadership should be like Jesus. In my case, the organization provided very good (if sometimes rigid) support and obviously cared deeply about everyone in the field. But I felt abandoned when I returned from the field. One leader even told me I might want to attend church outside of the denomination. I stuck with it. I’m not a victim. But the Church could have done better by me. Thank you for the post. It points us toward the One who gives us strength.

    1. Amy Young June 10, 2017

      Hello fellow Amy! You’re right that the M as hero gets perpetuated. We have written before about coming down off of the pedestal, even when people keep putting us up there. But it is a conversation that isn’t a once and done, that’s for sure! I’m sorry that you had a traumatic departure. Sadly, yours is a too common tale of a person feeling abandoned when they return from the field. I am thankful the comments have been helpful. Amy

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