Many years ago I visited a colleague headteacher in his school. Spud Murphy was a good, well respected head, with a quirky sense of humour.
I watched Spud take school assembly, telling the story of Mr Smith and Mr Jones. Both lived by the seaside; each built a house – one on a sand foundation, one on rock. I enjoyed graphic, dramatic and amusing descriptions of ensuing storms, the fate of both houses, and Messrs Smith and Jones reactions…
He told his version of Jesus’ story in a clear and appropriate way: We all make choices regarding our lives’ foundations; storms will come to all of us; we will stand or fall by our foundations. He did a good job.
In ‘Resilient’, Sheridan Voysey quotes research into human resilience: he describes four factors that enable us to survive the inevitable storms of life and then bounce back:
- Emotional fitness: The ability to amplify positive emotions like peace, gratitude, hope, love; to manage negative emotions like bitterness, sadness and anger.
- Family fitness: Strong marriages and families that build trust, manage conflict and extend forgiveness.
- Social fitness: Good friendships and work relationships that develop empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Spiritual fitness: A sense of meaning and purpose from serving something greater than ourselves.
Unavoidable, uncontrollable storms of sickness, bereavement, isolation, unemployment, domestic strains have come to many – particularly over the past year. Spud (well, Jesus actually!) says they will come and test our resilience and the quality of our life’s foundation, built before the storm.
Voysey says that we need trials to exercise and test our resilience. ‘Resilience requires opposition. Something can’t spring back to shape unless it’s first been bent.’
Jesus’ story starts: ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock…’ How our religious theory works out in practice determines the strength of our foundation.