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Christine Caine on Building Resiliency

Christine Caine on Building Resiliency

Christine Caine knows that life is rarely easy. If anything, it can be harder than we anticipate.

But she wouldn’t be the woman she is today if she didn’t find the strength in Jesus to dig deep and stick it out. She’s spent years climbing metaphorical and literal mountains, developing a strong sense of resiliency that she hopes she passes on to the next generation.

In her devotional Resilient Hope: 100 Devotions for Building Endurance in an Unpredictable World, Caine shares her wisdom about developing a resilient spirit in a world that is trying to force you to give up. Caine also sat down with RELEVANT to discuss how someone can cultivate that spirit, how they can extend grace to themselves and much more. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

When did you start digging deeper into resiliency?

We are living in such turbulent times. There’s no doubt about it. And of course we’re in the middle of the pandemic, and I can’t travel overseas like I normally travel. I still did a lot within America, but outside of the country I didn’t, so I had a lot more time. And my friend who is this avid hiker starts taking me on all these hikes on these mountains around Southern California. And I just realized when I went out on my first one, I thought I was always fit because I work out all the time. But it was so different climbing a mountain. You need different muscles, you need different strength, different endurance.

And I started to think about a lot of what is happening in the world, and I thought the Scripture says that you will have need of endurance to fulfill the will of God. And I was thinking a lot really about the next generation. About some of the differences Wondering why am I still here at 56. Why am I still by the grace of God loving Jesus, serving Jesus, passionate about the mission of God, passionate about the purposes of God, yet I’ve experienced life? I’ve experienced adversity. I’ve experienced loss. I’ve lived through the same pandemic as everyone else. I’ve lived through the same political instability, the whole racial division, the whole economic challenges and moral challenges and social challenges.

But why by the grace of God am I able to keep moving forward and continue to stay in faith? And I thought, I think the key is that I developed resiliency over my life, this ability to bounce back, this ability to, not… I don’t like trials. I don’t like challenges. I don’t like obstacles. Nobody does. I think if you think you do, you need to go get help and therapy. But I think because I’ve endured so many of those, it’s developed a faith muscle in me and a resilient muscle in me that enables me to get back up.

And I think we have to be careful in this world that we don’t start to think that the only way I’m going to make it in life is if everything is perfect, if there are no challenges, if there’s no obstacles, if everybody likes me, if the world is just so, then I’m going to be able to do what God has called me to do.

And I thought no matter what, anyone in Scripture, from Genesis through to Revelation, that has really done anything that’s been impactful for the kingdom of God and that has run their race and that has finished their course, has had to overcome adversity, has had to develop resilience. But there is plenty of Scripture that tells us this life is not going to be easy. Everything is not going to go your way. There will always be something that’s a little bit off, something in the world is broken. We live in a fallen world. Sometimes we forget all this stuff, and we just go, “Man, if everything in this world could just be perfect, then it’s going to be awesome. And if everything just goes my way, and if everyone just gives me all the right opportunities.”

And I’m like, “You’ll be waiting until you get to heaven for that to happen,” because only in the new heaven and new Earth are we going to have, there’ll be no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering, no more injustice. But this side of eternity? We better develop some resiliency, or we are just going to not make it, or we’re going to feel like God has ripped us off. And we’re going to feel like God’s not faithful. We’re going to feel like, “You didn’t keep your word.”

And the Lord’s like, “Yes, I did,” but you’ve got to develop a faith muscle. You’ve got to develop resiliency. You grow to where you need to go. I didn’t climb. I’m doing 13,000 and 14,000-foot mountains now. Well, I didn’t start there. I started on a 1,000-foot hill, and I thought it was going to kill me. And it’s not even a mountain. Nowadays, I wouldn’t even consider it a hill.

How can someone start developing that “faith muscle”?

You’ve got to be in the Word, because faith comes by hearing, Romans says, and hearing the Word of God. So for me to stay in faith, I have got to be in the Word. That Word puts iron in your blood, in your spiritual blood. It strengthens you. For me it’s just so important.

I always think it’s important right at the start of the day that you let God talk to you before the world talks to you. So, it’s really important to get in the Word before the world starts telling you who you’re not. Let God start telling you who you are, reminding you who you are in Him, what you have in Him, that we are in Christ Jesus, that we are seated together with Him in heavenly places, that we have access to every spiritual blessing that’s ours in Christ Jesus.

And you go, “Come on, I’m going to charge that hill with a water pistol.” You’re reminded, because the minute you get online, you start comparing, you start competing, you start feeling like a loser. You thought you were doing okay, and then you’re scrolling through someone else’s speed, and you’re like, “I’m just a loser, nothing.”

And the enemy will come and start lying to you, “Who do you think you are? You can’t really do this.” He’ll remind you of all the sins you’ve committed and all the reasons you should be disqualified. And you spend your whole day full of shame and condemnation and feeling like you can’t do anything.

So, this place to start is let God tell you who you are. Let God remind you who you are and declare that. I love to say it out loud from the Scripture, “This is who I am. This is who God says I am. This is what God says I can do. I believe God is who He says he is. And God can do through me what He says He can do.”

And I think that’s the most underrated and yet most important aspect of how you build resilience, is you’ve got to be rooted and grounded in the Word. I think having really good friends around you is a really important factor of resiliency. Sometimes you just need people to remind you who you are. You just don’t have the strength. Life knocks it out of you. Everyone gets discouraged. Everyone is disillusioned. Everyone gets disappointed either in themselves or in other people or that things didn’t work out the way that I wanted, that I didn’t get the opportunity that I wanted, that things might not be going my way. You need people around you to remind you who you are and why you are running this race. We’re not designed to run it alone. Community is really important.

And I know in today’s sort of day and age, so many people have been hurt in community. But the flip side of that is the place that we’re most healed is also in community too. So, I want to encourage anyone that maybe kind of feels triggered, they’re like, “Oh Chris, what do you mean? I’ve been so hurt and burnt by people,” but I want to tell you, not everyone’s bad. There are good people out there, and dip your toe in the water a bit and begin to form relationships.

How does grace mix in with resiliency?

That’s great. Yeah, I think that’s important because sometimes the person we’re the most hard on is ourselves.

My daughters, I didn’t expect them to come out of my womb and start running. So, I was not angry with them when they couldn’t run, when they were one-month-old. All they could do was poop a diaper. And all they wanted me for was to drink milk, and then they just cried. That’s it. But I loved them. I loved them for just, they could do nothing else. That’s all they could do. And then I loved watching them grow.

Now, the first time my daughter took her first step and then fell flat on her face, I didn’t go, “You’re a loser. Why didn’t you run? Why’d you fall?” I mean, you’re laughing because that’s how ridiculous it is, and yet we do that to ourselves. We go have a go, we stumble, and then we get up and go, “Man, you’re a loser. You’ll never amount to anything.”

And you go, “Hang on a minute. Hang on a minute. That was my first step.” And so you’ve just got to give yourself grace enough, be as kind to yourself as you would be with somebody else.

How do you develop a resilient spirit without burning out?

Well, I think it’s important because a lot of the going, you’ve got to ask your motivation out of whose strength am I going? So, the fact is Isaiah says, “Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They’ll mount up on wings like eagles. We will run and not grow weary. We will walk and not faint.” And so at 56, I’ve been saying that Scripture over my life for a lot of years, “Chris, wait upon the Lord. You’ll mount up on wings like eagles. You’ll run and not grow weary, and you’ll walk and not faint.”

But that’s because I know my strength comes from God. It doesn’t come from me. And I think when you’re trying to do, it’s not how much you do for God that burns you out. It’s what you stop doing. That’s what burns you out. So if you stop being in the Word, in community, praying, looking after yourself in terms of your spiritual disciplines, your own physical disciplines of healthy eating and exercise and enough rest and enough sleep, I mean it’s all the basics.

We’ve got to be careful in our activism that we’re not being active out of our own strength, or we are going to fail. We’re just going to fall flat on our face. Our strength must come from God. I can’t be a man pleaser. I have to be a God pleaser, and I have to do what God is leading me to do. And that means that I have to live with the fact that a lot of people are not going to be happy at any one time at all. You can’t be living a life that I live and try to please everyone all the time. You’re going to have a nervous breakdown.

You’ve got to please God all of the time, and hopefully you please most of the people most of the time.

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