The Courier

Resiliency is one word that resonates with every CAF member. It is a household word for all military members and their families. It is simply the ability to recover quickly from an adverse situation or environment. The nature and circumstances of the military profession is one that deeply employs resiliency as a principal feature and quality. One thing that has been proven to have enormous influence or capacity to improve one’s ability to recover from difficulties is individual religious/spiritual backgrounds.

A visit to a Marina or Port provides not just a pleasant view of serenity, but also a life-long lesson on resiliency. At a Marina, individual yachts and boats are docked, whereas at a port the bigger boats and ships are anchored. The anchors hold down the ships lest they float away with the waves splashing all around them. Just like the anchors hold the ships from floating away, an individual’s religious/spiritual background or tradition grounds the human person from becoming the flotsam and jetsam, floating unanchored on the water called life. People who have profound faith in the divine tend to use their religious traditions as backbones of their lives. David W. Foy, Kent D. Drescher, and Patricia J. Watson in their article “Religious and Spirituality Factors in Resilience” point this out: “Spirituality (Religious background) is acknowledged as an important part of life by most individuals… religion and spirituality has been consistently linked to positive mental and physical health functioning, as well as increased longevity.”[1] A very good example they argued is to be found in the reaction of people in USA after the 9/11 experience: “In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack of September 11 2001, more than 90% of those surveyed reported that they coped by turning to religion.”[2] For military members with religious or spiritual background, this provides an added layer of protection and strength to deal with life’s stressful and traumatic experiences.

Having a religious/spiritual background does not necessarily or only mean going to church weekly, but also having the ability to recognize the divine, belonging to a religious or spiritual community, connecting one’s life to that of a higher power. Benefiting from one’s religious tradition does not work like magic, invoked with simple words and perhaps the raising of one’s hands in prayer, since one must value his or her religious background and be intentional about it. This intentionality will definitely increase one’s faith, leading to the “reappraisal of life’s events in a positive light and in turn, cultivates emotional wellbeing.”[3]

Dr. Leslie Gutman made an analysis of the tenaciousness of the people of Israel in the Old Testament as coming from their faith in the divine. Apart from their faith, the Israelites of old had a good amount of “hope” as Dr. Gutman opined. This, she said, represents their absolute trust in God thus: “Trusting God entails a powerful sense of optimism and confidence that everything that God does is for the best.”[4] Having a strong religious tradition inspires hope for it “inspires, brings vitality, and fuels our passion for living. Research finds that hope is an important aspect of resilience, enabling an individual to maintain faith in the face of adversity.”[5] So, next time you go through a difficult circumstance, always remember that one of the coping mechanisms in your toolbox can be your religious or spiritual traditions.

[1] David W. Foy, Kent D. Drescher, and Patricia J. Watson, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290022052_Religious_and_spiritual_factors_in_resilience

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] Leslie Morrison Gutman, “Building resilience and living your best life” Cultivating Spiritual Resilience – Dr. Leslie Morrison Gutman (drlesliemgutman.com)

[5] ibid

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