The Chaplain's Notebook


Let us start with the basics … Resiliency can be defined in many ways. Our own perception of a situation can give resiliency different meanings. Resiliency can be interpreted in a physical sense, as in bouncing back from an injury. Resiliency can also be defined as having the mental capacity to endure hardship. Finally, resiliency to some is the ability to withstand moments of temptation or difficulty. These are all correct definitions, depending upon the person or situation offering the definition.

To create an even playing field, let us establish a general definition of what resiliency is. This will make applying the concept of resiliency to our deputies an easier task.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, resilience (re·sil·ience noun \ri-zil-yi-(t)s\) is defined as follows:
1. The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2. An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Some examples of resilience in a sentence are:
• The rescue workers showed remarkable resilience in dealing with the difficult conditions.
• Cold temperatures caused the material to lose resilience.
• … the concert remained a remarkable tribute to Dylan’s resilience and continued relevance. — Susan Richardson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994

Merriam-Webster’s definition reinforces most individuals’ account of what resiliency means, thanks to its varied account of possible meanings. However, let us continue to narrow it down.

The American Psychological Association states the following thoughts on resiliency: “[Resiliency is] a personal journey” and “[Resiliency is] unique for each person.” — Ronald S. Palomares, Ph.D., Bouncing Back: Teaching Children Resilience Skills.

The Babylonian Talmud Ta’anit, meanwhile, has this to say:
Let a person always bend like a reed and not be hard like a cedar: A reed grows in the water, its stem is flexible and its roots are many. All the winds in the world cannot uproot it, for it sways back and forth with them. And when the winds cease to blow, the reed is still standing in its place.

A cedar does not grow in water, its trunk is not flexible and its roots are few. All the winds in the world cannot uproot it, but when a southerly wind blows, it is immediately uprooted.

It is hard to be a deputy sheriff in today’s world. Deputies’ lives are dependent on a consistent, secure and loving home. As a department, we provide a structure where trusting, approachable relationships with supervisors and colleagues exist to provide daily support and encouragement. As such, deputies develop the courage to avoid making poor decisions. Supervisors work to help support our deputies with resiliency skills, providing them a better chance at coping with the life factors that are not within their own control.

I am happy to provide further spiritual counseling and support. Please feel free to contact me at

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their units of assignment or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500.