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Day 4: The Gift of Resilience

By Kathy Beenen

Pick yourself up. Brush it off. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

We all have casual phrases for moving forward in adversity. But the fact is, sometimes life deals a tragic blow, and there isn’t a phrase in the world that begins to capture the path forward.

In Kigali, Rwanda, I met Petronaire, an Opportunity client who has built a successful tailoring business. She introduced me to her colleagues who are also seamstresses. While sketching designs and taking measurements, they started to tell their stories. They were confident and proud of their work. As we exchanged stories, they began to speak of family no longer with them. During the genocide in 1994 many of them had lost everything, including children, parents, and husbands.

I was struck by the lives rebuilt. In this beautiful country of a thousand hills, this nation and these women are shining examples of resilience. They remember the past, acknowledge the loss, but it does not limit them. Instead, they seem to have found strength in taking action, looking forward, holding on to hope. I witnessed them supporting each other in Trust Groups and many spoke of their faith in God.

Rwanda is a country of many widows and orphans. Though I have been spared the hardship that Petronaire and her friends have faced, I, too, lost my husband and my parents far too soon. As these women spoke of their lives, I was challenged to let go of anything holding me back from living the fullest life that God has planned for me. The gift of these women was their example of the depth of resilience that defies all understanding.

In this Holy Season, may we grow in our grasp of how wide and long and high and deep is God’s love.

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