Dr. Danjuma Gibson of Calvin Theological Seminary is a practical theologian and psychotherapist who examines the lives of historical figures to understand resilience. His doctoral research focused on the life and writings of Frederick Douglass, and he continues to reflect on Douglass’s remarkable soul work and introspection in spite of living in a slavocracy. On Sept. 28, Dr. Gibson joined us to talk about resilience and three ways that we can practice it.

Gibson shared with us his working definition of “resilience”: “introspective work that precipitates a set of intentional practices that cultivates the emergence and strengthening of one’s true self (or authentic self).” Three ways to practice resilience, according to Gibson, are 1) Practicing truth-telling, 2) Doing grief work, and 3) Engaging in one’s life work.

Some of what Gibson shared, especially about cultivating the authentic self and examining our stories or narratives, resonated with what we heard from Matt Bloom in a previous session.  At the end of the session, Talking Points director Darrell Yoder asked Gibson to give the pastors and ministry leaders listening some practical steps to pursue these practices that can promote resilience. Gibson suggested that we:

  • Violate the cult of silence in our families and churches; find safe, trusted individuals with whom to share our stories.
  • Seek professional care as much as possible; the church is one among many avenues for care in the community.
  • Re-think how you think about relationships.
  • Create sacred spaces of truth-telling.
  • Engage in constant self-care.
  • Diversify your relational portfolio.

If you want to know more about these six steps and how they relate to the three practices Gibson shared, watch the recording of the event.

All attendees will receive a free copy of Gibson’s book, “Frederick Douglass, a Psychobiography: Rethinking Subjectivity in the Western Experiment of Democracy.”