Going Through the Storm

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Practicing Resilience in the Face of Trials

Due to unfortunate genetics (mine), my eight-year-old son has been required to wear a very conspicuous orthodontic device day and night. It’s officially called a headgear and consists of a metal bar over his face, connecting a pad on his forehead to a pad on his chin. It pulls his upper jaw forward, ensuring that his bite will be aligned, and his teeth will one day be beautifully straight. He will have to wear it for a couple of months.


I feel for him. He has noticed lots of quizzical stares and overheard small children asking their parents to identify what he’s wearing.


He seems to be accepting it, in moments. The other night, while on a walk around the neighborhood, he jokingly told me that he’s developed an entire story about how the bar on his face is like a villain that he battles as he pedals his bike.


Yet, my Mama heart wishes this wasn’t the case. This is hard. I know it to be true because I had to do the same thing. When I was in the third grade, I had large blue glasses and the exact same headgear apparatus. I remember during class, drool would accidentally drip from my mouth and onto my desk. I would wipe it away as quickly as possible, praying that none of my classmates had noticed.


I wouldn’t have wished that on anyone, much less my son.


When we received the recommendation from the orthodontist, I almost told him, “Absolutely not,” but my husband, ever the practical one, insisted and I relented.




Because my husband is right. At the end of the headgear wearing trial which only lasts a couple months, there is a beautiful smile, which lasts a lifetime.


In this, there is a lesson: we can’t avoid the trial and expect to receive the positive results. We must go through it.


Nature reflects this principle. When a storm is brewing in the sky, cattle take notice and begin to move away from it. Since the cattle are slow, the storm eventually catches up to them and instead of avoiding the storm, the cattle find themselves smack in the middle of it and for an extended amount of time.


Buffalo, in contrast, sense a storm brewing and begin to move toward it, meeting the storm head on and going through it. In moving against the storm, they minimize the amount of time spent in it and decrease its damaging effects.


As leaders, we are to be the buffalo, not the bull. We are to help others face the trials, endure the storm and come out on the other side, more resilient. If we simply run away or avoid the trials when they arise—if we ignore the impending budget cuts, the supply chain issues, the staffing gaps or the volatile board members—we usually end up amid the storm anyway, watching rain run down our faces while we try to scramble for protection.


If, instead, we decide to see the storm on the horizon, create a plan for its approach and head toward it, we see that the storm wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated it would be.


I once found myself caught in the middle of a disagreement between my co-worker and my boss. In an effort to care for my co-worker, I had unwittingly seemed to side with her. She then proceeded to verbally bash my boss. I did not participate in the bashing, but I did leave the interaction feeling uncomfortable. Would my boss hear about the conversation and think that I had spoken ill of him? Or, worse, thought ill of him?


I decided to call him right away.


I apologized for my participation in the incident and for any confusion that might arise. I am proud to say that I faced that storm head on. I took action, and in doing so, weathered it for a much shorter time had I not done that.


There is no such thing as a life of endlessly sunny skies. While we don’t have to chase the storms, we can equip ourselves and our teams for them when they do come. The more we weather, the better we will be at weathering them.


I’ve been a mom for seven years. I have weathered some storms so far— surprise surgeries, changes in schools, a pandemic shutting down the world—and have become much more resilient as a result.


This headgear thing will soon become a blip on the radar of life, but until then, I’ll stand by my son as he weathers this storm, encouraging him forward through it, instead of backward away from it.


May we all be the buffalo.*



*This post was loosely based on IOL Podcast Episode #142 with Sharon Hulce, who mentions that when she was young, her father told her to, “be the buffalo.” Check it out!  

Author: Ashley Buenger 





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