“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how,” said Friedrich Nietzsche. This is one of Captain Bob Edwards’s favorite quotes. Edwards is one of the base Chaplains at the 142nd Fighter Wing’s Chaplain’s Corps.
Whether you are religious or not, it’s always good to ask yourself the questions that matter most in life: What is my purpose? Am I where I want to be right now? How can I become better? These are the kinds of questions Edwards encourages people to reflect on during stressful times in their lives.
People can build their spiritual resilience simply by practicing. Just as you would exercise to keep up your physical strength, you need to do the same for your spiritual strength. Examples of this would be to read books on faith; pray, journal, or just go outside to get some fresh air and reflect. The ability to lean on our strength is what will carry us through these trying times, said Edwards.
Religious Affairs Superintendent Tech. Sgt. Bernard Untalan is part of the Chaplain’s Corps and said that most of what they’re hearing right now is people struggling with the fact that there have been a lot of cancelled plans, for example, school, church, and Spring Break vacations. At the same time, during this down time, what we are experiencing is forcing us to look inward. We have become more aware of what has been taken for granted, and hopefully, have a new appreciation for the blessings that we have.
“The biggest thing is realizing that people handle stress in different ways, such as lashing out or withdrawing, but now is the best time to reach out to the people we hold dearest, prioritize what’s most important, and look toward the future when all of this will pass and things will resume,” said Untalan.
“Remember to look at the good during this time,” said Edwards. What have you been putting off? Maybe you could take up a new hobby. What do you want to learn? You could work on a goal you’ve been trying to accomplish like weight loss, cleaning the house, or reading a book series. You now have more time to spend with family, maybe learn what your spouse or children(s) “Love Language” is. Remember to take time for self-reflection, don’t isolate, and keep your mind occupied.
One of Edwards’s favorite scriptures he reflects on is Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” We often feel alone in life or want to do things our own way, but it is important to lean on your beliefs and family for strength when we go through tough times. Community is a huge piece; just having someone with you, going through the same things can bring comfort in times of uncertainty.
Edwards and Untalan are both at the base full-time as long as they are allowed to be and are now working on an online Strong Bonds for members to participate in, since the May event has been cancelled. They are both available for counseling, chats, or prayer when people are in need.
“This situation shows how creative people can be in reaching out to others,” said Untalan. “Look into what your own church services are offering. Some places are offering drive through confessions, Facebook Live sessions, or virtual church sessions.”
The main thing Edwards wants people to focus on is connecting with people, because we are all in this together. Find what it is that you believe in and why it’s important to you.