Jonathan Haidt is a psychologist who did a hypothetical experiment. People were given a summary of the life story of a girl named Jillian. Here are some of the details:
At a young age, Jillian developed a learning disability which would delay her ability to read, and which impacted her grades and work throughout life. In high school she would become best friends Megan who would get cancer and pass away. She would also get hit by a drunk driver. Although not her fault, a boy would die in the accident which sent her into a depression. She would go to a state school and get a job. She would eventually lose her job when the economy tanked. She would have to move from her house to an apartment, and would forever struggle to make ends meet.
The participants were then asked to imagine that Jillian was their own daughter. But she hasn’t been born yet. They were then told they could have 5 minutes to edit her story to change how her life would unfold. What would they do?
A lot of people would immediately take out the hardships. After all, we want our loved ones to be healthy and happy all the time, right?
But what if it was our hardships which made us more resilient? What if Jillian learned how to persevere through life BECAUSE of her many hardships?
I’m not saying that hardships are good. But unlike Haidt’s experiment, they’re not something we can simply edit out of our lives because we don’t like them.
They key for us is to be deliberate about not letting our hardships define us. Instead, we can think of them as moments which tone the muscle of our character.
Are you going down? No!
Are you defeated? No!
Are you despairing? No!
Are you done? No!
Are you going to persevere? Yes!
Are you going to win? Yes!
Are you going to choose hope? Yes!
Are you going to be resilient in the footsteps of Jesus? Yes!
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
By Matthew Ruttan
–“Up!” is published 5 days a week and returns on May 11.
–*I read about this experiment by Jonathan Haidt in: Kyle Idleman, Aha (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2014), 51-53.