What equips us to navigate the challenges we are now facing due to the Coronavirus? As I was talking to a colleague earlier this week, I was reminded of the truth that our personal adversity provides a deep reservoir from which to draw strength and insight. Our past experience becomes a vital asset as we navigate uncertain times.
In no season have I grown or learned more than over twelve years ago, when my wife and I lost our two-and-a-half-year-old son Judson to a neurodegenerative disease. Leading my family as Judson slipped through our fingers and in the subsequent the dark period after he died taught me a great deal about flourishing in adversity. I’ve heard many people who have endured similar personal challenges say the same thing.
What lessons can adversity teach us as we navigate this uncharted territory? While the following are by no means exhaustive, they are simple and yet profound due to their impact on us:
- When stress or fear of the future threatens to debilitate you, focus on what you can do in the next moment. The step-in front of us holds the key to climbing the whole mountain.
- These dark times remind us that we need each other to survive. So, leave the lines of communication open. Call that friend or family member you haven’t talked to in some time. And if you need help, ask someone you trust.
- When challenges multiply, it’s tempting to focus on the negative and develop a darkened outlook. For that reason, it’s all the more important to acknowledge the good things that are going on in our lives and leave space daily for gratitude.
- As people’s needs in this season become acute, those who help in a pinch gain credibility and trust. Bolster relational equity by supporting others.
- The stress and grief in these times takes a toll, making self-care essential. Get plenty of rest. Take your vitamins. Exercise. Go outside.
- Pray. Mountains of research note the correlation between prayer and human flourishing.
- Take a step back from moment-to-moment problem solving to assess big picture threats and opportunities. Things can change rapidly, and such perspective becomes invaluable.
- Don’t let the focus on survival in these times keep you from pursuing what you really want to do. Complete that project. Revisit the entrepreneurial idea you had once considered. Go back to school to complete that certification or finish your degree.
The times are challenging, but also full of opportunity. And applying wisdom from our past challenges can only help!
Dr. Drake Levasheff is Senior Director of Azusa Pacific University’s Murrieta Regional Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.