When times are tough… a terrible storm has ripped through your town, your spouse has lost a job, a loved one is dying, the news is depressing or even scary… what do you do? Pray for strength? Go for a walk in the woods to be rejuvenated by nature? What is your level of spiritual preparedness?
When the wildfire misses your home do you chalk it up to plain ol’ luck, or do you believe that God or The Universe played a part in sparing your family, possibly for a greater purpose?
Do you consider yourself to be “spiritual?”
What is spirituality?
It is important to note that “religion” and “spirituality” are two different concepts, even though the words are often used interchangeably.
Religion is a structured belief system based on core doctrine. Spirituality is a personal belief system that may, or may not, include belief in a higher being. A religious person is often spiritual, but a spiritual person does not have to be religious. In fact, almost 30% of Americans say their spirituality comes largely or entirely from outside formal religion.
Spiritual people have a connection to something bigger than themselves and have a firm set of moral values. They often have a commitment to someone or something outside of themselves. Their spirituality helps guide their decisions and can impact how they respond to stress.
Though I am a Christian, for the purposes of this article, it does not matter who or what your “higher power” is. As long as you claim something and truly believe, you are more likely to be a resilient person in times of trouble.
Why Does it Matter?
In the Handbook of Religion and Health, the author analyzed more than 1,200 studies on the subject of spirituality and mental health. He concluded that spiritual people have greater hope and optimism. They also have less depression, fewer suicides, less anxiety and less alcohol and drug abuse. Their marriage has greater stability, they have less risky behavior, and lower mortality from various causes. The spiritual tend to “bounce back” more easily from disappointment or disaster and have better relationships with others. They are more resilient and have the ability to see a greater purpose in all things.
These are all good qualities to have in general, but don’t those sound like they would be essential qualities to have during a disaster? It really doesn’t matter if that disaster is a house flattened by a tornado or a complete nationwide economic collapse. Being a spiritual person can help you cope with the day-to-day difficulties as well as maintain purpose, self-worth, and hope for the future.
Improve your Spiritual Resiliency
As preppers, our goal is to be as prepared as possible to face hard times, whatever they may be. We work diligently to stock up on food and medical supplies and prepper gadgets. And if we are really committed, we also prepare our physical bodies. But have you thought about how to prepare your soul or your being? How do you become “spiritually fit?”
Core Spiritual Concepts
There are several concepts that are universal to almost all spiritual people. These concepts can be shared by people who have fundamentally different spiritual starting points. Focusing on these spiritual concepts in your daily life can increase your spiritual resiliency in hard times. These spiritual concepts include:
Notice that all of these concepts require you to focus on something outside of yourself, which is key to a strong spiritual life. Find ways, through religious and/or secular means to put these concepts into practice. Examples include spending time in prayer or meditation, volunteering for charities or attending worship services. Other ideas could be cultivating or repairing relationships and spending time in fellowship with others who share your belief system.
Create a “Spiritual Reminder.” Write on a piece of paper a sentence or two that encapsulates your core spiritual and/or religious belief. Have it visible at home and work and keep a copy in your wallet or purse. Repeating this “Spiritual Reminder” in times of trouble can give a sense of calm and focus.
A recent example in my life is when my mother was suddenly hospitalized earlier this year. During her very painful physical therapy, she would often stop and say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
I asked a non-religious friend what his “Spiritual Reminder” would be and he replied with, “I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.” These reminders are as individual as the people who write them. Find yours and use it.
Find a Spiritually Resilient Mentor
One of the best ways to be successful is to find another person who has already achieved your desired outcome and emulate them. Do you know someone who is spiritually resilient? This can be a friend or family member, a Bible study leader or pastor, or even a fictional character from a book or movie. See what worked for this mentor… and what didn’t. Model that behavior to increase your own resiliency.
Be a Spiritually Resilient Mentor
As you are modeling the behaviors of your mentor, realize that someone may be looking to YOU as their mentor. Your children are always watching you and need special guidance to become more spiritually resilient. Others may approach you and ask for advice or maybe watching from a distance. It is important to remember that the more resilient the people are around you, the less care they may need in a disaster. This will free you up to focus on more pressing needs.
In Good Times and In Bad
When you have your food stash, water storage, and preparedness supplies in place, it will help you survive a disaster. But when you enter challenges with a strong spirituality you have a better chance of not just surviving, but also of thriving. Plus, spiritual resilience isn’t just about surviving the bad times. Having a strong spiritual faith or belief system can be sustained in the good times as well.
Elizabeth Edwards, who knew quite a bit about personal challenges, wrote “You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined.”