The Thirteen Cs of Resilience: Challenge

Padre Stewart

Chaplain’s Corner

Padre David Stewart

Challenges often come when we least expect them, and when we least want them. How we respond to those life and career challenges is a sign of how healthy our resilience is. Do we grumble and complain seeing them as impossible, or do we see a challenge as an opportunity to learn?

I admit I often grumble a little when an unexpected challenge comes my way. It forces me to wake a little bit and consider how I will respond! Yes, sometimes a challenge can seem like it is too much to handle, and we would rather retreat from it or ignore it altogether. But in the real world, that does not work well for long.

There are different types of challenges: they can be physical, mental or spiritual in nature.

Members of the CAF face a physical challenge every year, the FORCE test. Of course, we know it is something that we must pass each year. We can train for it, and there is even an opportunity to practice it once a month. Within the test there is a challenge – you can simply pass it, or you can shoot for a bronze, silver, gold or platinum level. I am one of those people who will try to excel and achieve one of those levels. It brings me a sense of satisfaction when I succeed.

There are others who prefer mental challenges. This can take the form of puzzles like Sudoku, or perhaps the learning of a new skill related to your job.

Many people seek job advancement, and the best way to get it is to show you are capable by developing an essential skill set for that new position. The military provides career courses to make sure we are capable of meeting the challenges that our trades and careers may present to us. We can see these courses as burdens to survive, or we can take advantage of them and learn as much as we can. I realize that some courses are more difficult than others, but they are given to us so we can prove ourselves.

There are also spiritual challenges in our everyday life. This is something we can overcome, but sometimes we are weighed down by it. Jesus recognized that we need to be challenged in the way we think about ourselves, that we often think more highly about ourselves than we should. People can be quick to jump to conclusions and decisions, especially when we see someone who has fallen on hard times. Jesus warns us that we need to be aware of ourselves before we begin to judge someone else. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus addresses our propensity to judge each other and how we look in the wrong direction when we are doing so: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (vs 3). Jesus is showing us that a spiritual challenge requires us to do something different. We need to change our focus.

With the other types of challenge we can see a clearly defined goal, such as passing a test or passing a course, but a spiritual challenge’s goal is internal. We need to look inside ourselves to seek to understand more about who we are and why we respond the way we do. This is part of what practicing spirituality allows us to do, to look inside and begin to know ourselves.

The teaching of Christianity and our practice of spirituality is not just about knowing ourselves, but recognizing who Jesus is. For us, it is through Him that we begin to know who God is and the way we should interact with this world and with those we encounter.