There are irises growing around the back of our new house.
I called my mom, who loves irises, asking how I was supposed to take care of them: do I need to weed? Fertilize? Water? They were so pretty, I assumed they were delicate and fussy. She said, “Oh yeah, don’t worry about the weeds or anything — they’ll be fine, they’re tougher than they look.”
Literature on childhood and adolescent development, particularly in face of adversity, talks a lot about resilience. The research basically points to the reality that one of the most predictive attributes of future success a child can have is resilience, and that those children who believe in their own ability to withstand struggle are more likely to overcome even really significant struggle. Resilience isn’t some magical gift though, its primary power is in the belief that you have it. Belief that you will survive seems to be enough to make it so.
In Family Sunday School this week, we’re talking about resilience, and dandelions growing up through pavement, or in my case, irises around the base of my deck. We’re talking about how flowers can be stepped on, ripped up, flooded, dried out, happen to plant themselves extremely inhospitable places, and still survive. We’re talking about how, if dandelions were endowed by their Creator with the capacity to survive, so, surely, were we.
Of course we want to protect those we love from struggle, and we should, particularly the young people in our care, but there will always be adversity and even suffering we can’t guard them from. The pandemic is reminding all of us of that uncomfortable reality. Since we can’t remove hurt from their world, since we can’t ensure they will never be stepped on or flooded out, since we can’t remove all the weeds, we have an obligation to teach our young people that they can grow regardless — and that they are tougher than they look, as well.
Director of Youth Ministries
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