by Alyssa Robinson
As I step into the motion of the new year, I’ve reflected on how I handle change. Am I “strong and courageous?” The Bible repeats this phrase in multiple books.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
1 Chronicles 28:20
“Then David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.’”
This phrase, “be strong and courageous,” is mentioned over and over again in scripture. As a teenager, it was common to see this phrase on posters, t-shirts, stickers, bookmarks, and pretty much anything the local Christian bookstore could sell. It felt like a unifying call to battle. When I read it I felt the need to stand tall, puff out my chest, and run toward anything in front of me with vigor.
But the meaning has changed for me as I’ve gotten older. Life has battered me. I've experienced pain, betrayal, stress, depression, and uncertainty. I don’t have the same energy or tenacity I exuded in my teens and twenties. As I get older, changes are forced upon me to which, for the first time, I have trouble adjusting. I don’t feel as resilient as I once did. I used to feel like I was made of teflon, nothing stuck to me. But now I look to the future with a glint of fear because of the pain I’ve experienced and witnessed.
I don’t feel paralyzed or consumed by fear. It feels more like a tingling anxiety or stress that sits at the back of my mind, waiting to be triggered. I’ve talked to a few of the wiser people in my life, and they have assured me this is just a natural part of growing up. I'm still resilient, but I'm carrying more weight so it feels different.
But, like I said, I read the phrase “be strong and courageous” differently than before. It feels gentler, like there's more compassion behind it. If I were to insert my own language into this phrase it would sound something like, “I know you’re scared, and that’s okay. You can do this. I’ll be with you. Be strong and courageous.”
Is it possible to reclaim the resiliency I felt in my youth? I turned to Google for some answers and stumbled across an article titled, “The Psychology Of Dealing With Change: How to Become Resilient.” I started to read but had to stop and laugh when I read the release date: February 21, 2020.
The poor people reading this article, even the writer, had no idea what was about to hit them or how much they would need the coping skills outlined. By the way, it is a helpful article and I hope they had many readers in the months following the release.
We never know what's around the corner. We have no idea what changes we’ll face this year, this month, or tomorrow. My hope for you, and for myself, is that we can hold this gentle reminder to be strong and courageous in our hearts. I hope we can each find a safe space to express our fears and be held by the ones who love us. I hope we can remember that resiliency comes in many forms, and we are not on this journey alone.
Be strong and courageous in all of the changes to come.
Listen to Alyssa Robinson and Rev. Doug Meyer share how they’ve learned to deal with change in this week’s episode of the Life + God Podcast. You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.