Be Strong and Courageous!

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Kelly Kannwischer | March 19, 2020

Over the next 2 weeks, I am exploring principles of mental and spiritual strength. I will share characteristics that strong people exhibit and ways in which you can cultivate them in your own life.


Characteristic #1 – Strong People Give Thanks

Social distancing, work disruptions, schools closings and a sense that more disruption is coming is our Monday morning. We have so many questions about the Coronavirus today and what this means for our world in the future. 

Self-pity is easy to embrace.  It is not difficult to find reasons to feel sorry for ourselves.  We are experiencing real losses, big and small.  

This morning Jim Ryan, the President of the University of Virginia and my undergraduate school, posted a beautiful letter.  He put words to the feeling that many in the community are feeling, death. “No matter how much we know this is the right thing to do, that we will work through this, and that we will emerge even stronger than we are—this is a loss. A real one, and in many cases a painful one.” 

I really respect his letter because he is not practicing self-pity.  Rather, he is creating space for people to grieve. Grieving is an important part of giving thanks.  When we experience loss we can focus on what we no longer have. As a result, we focus our energy on the negative, or what is missing in our life, rather than on the positive, or all of those wonderful things we still have. 

Grieving creates space for us to give thanks for what we experienced, all we treasured, and what now will be missed.  We are experiencing pain in loss because we enjoyed something precious and beautiful, something we must now release. Grieving is the practice of giving thanks for the goodness we shared. 

Dallas Willard helps us appreciate that the discipline of thankfulness helps us to see the light (Spirit of the Disciplines, 1999).  Giving thanks intentionally forces us out of revolving around negativity to see where light is actually taking place.

Mentally and spiritually strong people name the loss and grieve.  As a part of grieving they name the good, shine the light, and give thanks for what was shared. 

As followers of Jesus, we are not to fall prey to feeling sorry for ourselves where fear and despair thrive.  Instead, we are called to be people of salt and light. 

What are ways in which you can cultivate disciples of gratitude in your daily life? Keep a thankfulness journal, write a note, share what you are grateful for over dinner with your friends or family.  There are many ways to honor Paul’s word to the church at Thessalonica: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Younique is a training practice that includes the disciple of giving thanks.  Each and every week we reflect back and look forward, intentionally giving thanks to God.  We call this our Weekly Reflection Guide. We look for the light, keeping God in the center and kicking negativity to the curb. Designing your life with practices of gratitude will bring light and strength to the coming days. 

Spiritually and mentally strong people are thankful people.  Share with me how you are cultivating a spirit of thankfulness during this season of uncertainty. Share with me your story. [email protected]When Things Don’t Go According to Plan is the topic of our January 2020 podcast if you want more encouragement and tips on how to navigate change.  

This series of posts is inspired by the book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, by Amy Morin. 

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Kelly Kannwischer

Kelly has spent her vocational life as a not-for-profit executive, consultant and development professional. Former to becoming the CEO of Younique, Kelly founded OptUp Consulting, served THINK Together as the Chief Engagement Officer, and led Vanguard University as a Vice President and President of the Vanguard University Foundation. Kelly graduated from the University of Virginia and earned her Masters degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is married to Rev. Dr. Richard Kannwischer and is the proud mother of Danica (age 15) and Ashby (age 13).