Building resilience

Sun 30 October 2016

Sarah writes

We’ve been paying attention to ‘resilience’ in recent weeks. Of course it’s a Good Thing to have improved resilience in the face of stress – what’s not to like? We’ve invested in improvements to our computer system’s resilience, looking at weak links in the chain from broadband to server to database. We don’t want to be knocked over by the first challenge or misfortune that comes our way, and beefing up the weak links is definitely a useful exercise.

It is important at Sheldon that we pay attention to our IT resilience as we rely on it for running Sheldon day to day (bookings diary, shared calendars, etc) and as we build a major new online resource for people in ministry – the Sheldon Hub.  Recent work has included:-

  • Shutting all computers and phones down for a week to rewire the patch panel – the central junction box in the photo. A bit like the office taking a silent retreat perhaps?
  • Installing a ‘failover’ system so that if one broadband line goes down it automatically switches to the secondary one. Some crises are predictable rather than preventable and the trick is to have a planned course of action when they happen.
  • Changing our IT support provider. It was hard to leave our previous one who was a good friend and had served us well for many years. But our needs had outgrown the capacity of his business so we needed to move on. Do we sometimes stay with a spiritual director or therapist longer than we should because moving on is uncomfortable?

But are there times when a focus on resilience is not such a Good Thing? Maybe when it implicitly puts the blame on the one who is suffering. ‘Sorry you’ve had a breakdown, if you’d done your resilience training properly this wouldn’t have happened.’ It can idealise an unhealthy self-sufficiency. We can reduce risk but we can’t eliminate it. Sometimes life throws too much at us at once, and the proper response is loving kindness and care. We can pay attention to our networks of support so we have people we can turn to. We can pay attention to our internal weak links, and occasionally go ‘off line’ for a while. But let’s also be kind to one another when we do stagger or fall in the face of cumulative or overwhelming stresses.


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What do you think are the benefits and limits of resilience?

Frank Wright - Nov 14, 2016

The important job done with the Sheldon computer system is to make sure it is wired for what it is required to do and then correctly programmed (trained). Most of us do a lot of what we are wired for and much we are not. Knowing what the wiring is and how the installation works is important so that not too much energy is spent on what cannot reasonably be done. We live in a success culture and to some extent the church plays along. 'I am not wired for that' is a hard thing to say and even harder to hear.

Carole Christensen - Nov 06, 2016

There is great benefit in realising the limits of our resilience for it is in so doing that we learn to throw ourselves upon the strength of God rather than keep sinking in the quagmire of endeavouring to be all things to all people. It is by our own vulnerability and 'woundedness' that we learn to understand the pain and difficulties experienced by those whom we serve.

Stephen Colver - Oct 31, 2016

To discover, after a decades long debilitating illness, that my resili nice is constantly increasing brings a great deal of joy. Experiencing oneself as being very vulnerable for a long period can bring much anxiety, so it is good to rediscover strength and the ability to deal with challenges. I can imagine however that having never had one's resilience severely challenged might make it difficult to understand or empathise with those whose experience is different.

What do you think are the benefits and limits of resilience?

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