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Building Resilience


By Deacon Tammy Devine

ELCA Wellness Manager
May 2018

But when [Peter] noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:30-31

Pausing on my walk, I took in the view of the horizon lying beyond the expansive body of water. I asked myself, “What is on my horizon?” When no immediate answers came, my mind went to the story of Jesus walking on water and inviting Peter to come to him. I thought, “What trust and faith Peter had to get out of the boat and take that first step.” Gazing at the water in front of me, I thought about how fear was keeping me in my boat, “safe” with what I thought I knew. I realized it was because I could not imagine what God might have in store for me in the future.

Often we imagine our horizon holds what we envision for our lives: when we will take a new call, how long we have before retirement, how well our health will hold out, that our children will become productive citizens and people of faith. When life doesn’t turn out the way we’d planned, we can feel stuck, unable to leave the safety of the boat we know. It can be easier to live in denial or anger than to face the pain and grief of change. It can be easier to stay in place than to find the courage to step into the unknown.

Like Peter, God sometimes invites us to step out of the boat and walk towards a new horizon. Researcher Diane Contu sees our capacity to adapt as a mark of resilience. She says we can begin to flex our resilience muscle as we lean on these three traits:

  • The ability to accept reality
  • A deep belief that life is meaningful
  • A willingness to improvise

Knowing that our God walks with us, catches us, and sometimes carries us gives me hope that I can adapt to a different horizon than what I originally planned, and that as I do I can grow more and more resilient. In this time of the changing church and changing world, may you too build your resilience muscle!

Tammy Devine's monthly reflection invites you to consider how your faith and health are intertwined. She shares her personal journey to help support you in new ways as you strive to live well in Christ — for the sake of ministry in God’s world. ELCA organizations, feel free to print or link to Tammy’s reflections in your publications.

Since joining Portico in 2004, Tammy has provided whole-person health promotion, education, and inspiration to ELCA rostered leaders and lay employees. Contact Tammy Devine at

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