Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thriving in Unexpected Circumstances, Key Strategy #1

If you have a fb account, you may have seen and chuckled at the following meme:



Of course, it’s referring to the pandemic, self-quarantining, etc., of the past several months, but for many of us in the 2nd mile of life, it applies in other ways as well. For one reason or another, life has taken unexpected twists and turns, and we’ve ended up with a life we never anticipated.

I’ve come to learn there are 3 key strategies to adapting to and thriving in unexpected circumstances, and as I promised in my last post, I’m going to share one of them today. 

The first and most important strategy in thriving when life doesn’t turn out as expected is to nurture and maintain your spiritual strength.

Of course, what constitutes “spiritual strength” will vary, depending on a person’s spiritual beliefs; consequently, the path to spiritual strength will vary. 

Similarly, because every 2nd-miler and his or her personality, values, circumstances, etc., are unique to them, I can’t offer a blueprint or list of step-by-step instructions. I will offer examples or suggestions, but they are definitely not all-inclusive; each person must do what is right for them.

As a Christian, I have found that the more time I spend in prayer and in the study & application (in my own life) of God’s Word, the stronger I am spiritually. Last year, I completed a variety of Bible studies of various lengths (30 days, 6 weeks, etc). This year, I decided to participate in a Facebook group called 12 Minutes; I begin every morning by reading that day’s Scripture passage, and I follow that with a time of prayer. I also pray throughout the day, as thoughts or concerns come to mind, and again before I go to bed. I finish each day by reflecting (through journal writing) on my day from a spiritual perspective. 

A dear friend who is agnostic shared with me that meditation has helped him deal with the devastating effects of an unexpected job loss just at age 55. He explained in a recent email that “had it not been for meditation focused on the words of a wide variety of very wise individuals these past 18 months, I don’t think I could have coped with losing my job and starting over at this stage in the game.” 

A former coworker has faced several life-threatening medical emergencies and is, at age 55, living in an assisted-living facility. She has found that spending a minimum of 1 hour in solitude in nature feeds her spirit, so after breakfast every morning, she wheels herself to a garden on the property and enjoys the flowers and watches the birds and squirrels that share the space with her. 

Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to your spiritual life or beliefs in quite some time, or even not since you were a child. You will probably want to begin by considering what you actually do or do not believe (and/or believe in). There are many resources available: books, magazines, websites, professionals, practitioners, etc. It’s important, of course, that any sources you consider are reputable and reliable.
You might, on the other hand, already incorporate spiritual practices in your life, and that’s wonderful. Consider, then, how you can improve or enhance those practices. A close friend told me that while she’s been a Christian since age 12, it has only been in the last year or so that she began reading her Bible every day. A lady I met at a writers’ conference last year shared with me that reading, for the first time in her life, about the foundations and history of Judaism helped her be more intentional in her own spiritual life. “No more casual recitations of memorized passages. Now I am intentional in my faith-practices, and that has made an enormous difference in how I handle life stressors,” she explained. 

I challenge you to consider your own spiritual life and how you can develop, maintain, and increase your spiritual strength. Consider practices that fit your belief system, your personality, your circumstances, and that you can actually implement. Choose one or a few of them and apply them on a consistent basis.

I hope, too, that you’ll share your thoughts and experiences — as much or as little as you are comfortable sharing — via a comment below. What is working for you already? What are you willing to implement? What was the outcome of any changes you made?

I’ll be back in 2 weeks with key strategy #2!