How Resilience And The Joy Of Being Humbled Lead To Our Courage

Two totally separate situations. Different people, different conversations, and different settings. One reflective moment over coffee. One big mistake and a walk up a really big hill. Both lead me to courage.

I’m going to tell you two personal stories involving some of the people closest to me…

My Dad and I have coffee every week. We started doing this about a year ago and it’s become a very special time for both of us. We talk about all kinds of things… politics, our dreams, religion, money, the world… nothing is off limits and there’s plenty we disagree on… the conversation can get quite lively!

About a month ago I was considering the question: “where does courage come from?”. I believe courage is critically important to living a life true to ourselves, but as I was writing a post on the topic I realized that I needed to explore where courage comes from in the first place. I asked my Dad where he believes courage comes from… we talked for a bit and decided to take up the topic in more detail the next week.

Fast forward to the next week… my Dad came prepared! He and my Mom had discussed the question at length. We had a great discussion and he gave me tons of insight, but one thing stuck in my head… he and my Mom agree that resilience through life is a key to finding and maintaining courage.

After the conversation resilience kept popping into my mind... what exactly is it?? defines resilience as follows:

1:  the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress

            2:  an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Wow… this is spot on! We are born with all the courage we need, but it’s eroded through life… resilience in the face of stress and challenge is a key to finding and maintaining our courage!

So, now we go from the heartwarming story about my awesome parents to a story about getting checked, humbled, and paying the price!

Todd (my husband) and I were on a hiking retreat last week in the Blue Ridge Mountains… it was a super awesome 5 days of challenging hikes, reflection, being close to nature, being together, etc. We were feeling great on our last day… we spent the morning at a beautiful waterfall and decided to do one last hike in the afternoon in one of our favorite areas.

Before starting the hike, we read the directions in our hiking app (we have had navigational challenges before and bought a special app to help us make sure we stayed on the right trails). Looking back, we were in a hurry to get going and were getting a little over confident in our navigation instincts…

The trail split .4 miles into the hike and we read the app and took the trail we started on. The trail went down, and down, and down. A number of times we commented that we thought we should be going up by now (our destination was an overlook!). We both felt like something was off. However, we didn’t stop to check the app until we were about 1.5 miles down in the river valley! We met some other hikers and asked them about the trail… they had no idea where to find the trail we were looking for!

We had made a big mistake and now had to hike 1.5 miles uphill to get back to the trail split! When we started out we were in disbelief… something must have been mismarked! However, as we walked we had a lot of time to think… all the signs were there… we were going down when we should have been going up, our intuitions told us we were off course, and if we would have looked at the app we would have seen that there was another path early in the hike.

So here’s the most embarrassing part… when we read the app again it said .4 miles in, the trail we started out on goes down, but “this trail” (the one leading to the overlook) goes straight. We didn’t even read all of the words in the app we downloaded to avoid going off course!

We were tired and it was late… we didn’t go to the overlook… we’ll do this hike first on our next trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, we got checked and humbled… no matter how aware we think we are, we’re apt to just plow through to get to the finish line… so many times we don’t stop when we know we should. It was a great lesson to end our hiking trip and I’m sure it was no coincidence!

As I reflected on the joy we found in our humbling lesson, I thought about my parents’ comments about resilience. I thought about the many humbling lessons I’ve learned and how resilience has helped me use these lessons to strengthen my courage rather than lose it…

How is your resilience? Do you find joy in the lessons learned from your most humbling moments? Observe your resilience in the face of your next humbling experience… will you bounce back and learn? Will you use the experience to find and maintain your courage?