Surviving the Dark Winter
Life isn't always easy. History has recorded difficult times, including two world wars followed by two crushing wars that resulted in profound suffering for the populations of Korea and Vietnam; the Holocaust, which resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent men, women and children; the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic; and now COVID-19, which has taken the lives of more than 1 million and counting.
None of us are going to forget the last few months. We have lost loved ones, friends of all ages and jobs of all kinds. We have had to make an array of adjustments in order to survive and limit our losses. Each of us is struggling with our own challenges, obstacles and fears.
The field of psychology teaches us that, after birth, we go through several stages of development marked by moments of crisis. We transition from infanthood to childhood hurting ourselves as we prepare to walk independently. We lose our baby teeth. We experience growing pains, and pimples burst out as they announce evolving developmental growth. We survive these early developmental crises until we reach adulthood.
What determines the success of these transitions as we go from one stage to another? Our state of mind, our understanding of physiological and psychological transitions, and the quality of personal resources offered to us by our families of origin.
Every stage we outgrow, every crisis faced and adapted to, is forming us into the kind of person we will become. Our journeys offer us opportunities to develop love, peace, selflessness, patience, self-control and joy — or bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, selfishness and envy. The catalytic factor that makes all the difference is our mental attitude, our philosophy of life learned from the humans in our environment like our parents, friends and siblings and the lessons we have learned in each experience including our “road to Emmaus” journey with our Creator.
This journey teaches us humankind is not abandoned to their emotions of failure and loss. The road to Emmaus reveals that God finds a way to walk close to His children, especially in times of crisis. Those who know and recognize this reality gain an exceptional ability to survive and recover from difficult times. Resilience refers to the ability to overcome and adapt after experiencing unexpected and unusual crisis situations. The most resilient people are able to "roll with the blows" and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties.
Fear was not innate to humans; it was born as a result of our fall: "I was afraid and hid" (Gen. 3:10). When we are filled with fear, we become confused as we distort the reality of who God is, who we are and who our neighbor is. Thus, our Creator and Master invites you: "Let not your heart be troubled (maintain mental and spiritual serenity). You believe in God, believe also in me" and "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (John 14:1 and Isaiah 41:10, NKJV, emphasis added).