By Bill Betzler
One Day at a Time: Personal Resiliency & Community Support
My biggest concern in all this COVID stuff is the first-time trauma victims in our midst. A house has fallen on many Unity Minneapolis members. They are struggling just to catch their breath; just to survive. They never ever thought that anything like this would happen to them – – and now it has. The first time is a horrendous experience. It’s a brutal grieving process with no shortcuts, no quick fixes, and lots of existential fears. In my experience when nothing else is working you can’t underestimate the power of comfort. When you’re home alone with your grief; the phone weighs 1000 pounds.
How does one survive the fear storm? How can we support each other? How will I survive this? In unprecedented times like these; resiliency has become a front & center topic of conversation. I believe it’s helpful to think of resiliency as a continuum of response. On one end is Big “R” resiliency. Big “R” resiliency is about surviving the initial hit & step-by-step walking through a very personal grieving process. It’s bewildering, painful, slow, scare-you-to-death-breath-by-breath at first.
Victor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning is about Big “R” resiliency. Frankl’s focus was on surviving. Beyond surviving; Big “R” resiliency is also about thriving. Both are spiritual concepts. Little “r” resiliency is about persistence & patience. This setback may be uncomfortable and scary, but with more effort, more faith, and more concentration I know I will get you through this. It’s Thomas Edison and his 1,000 attempts to find a filament for an electric light bulb. The goal here is success.
More people than ever before are being hammered because they think they don’t have big “R” resilience. We do little “r” by our own efforts & sometimes a little help from our friends. Big “R” is entirely a spiritual process. I know where I am. I know where I want to be, and I have no idea how to get from A to B. It’s all in Spirit’s hands. It’s all one day at a time.
I think big “R” is about the first 4 Steps of AA:
- Step 1: I have to get to the point where I admit that I don’t know what to do next.
- Step 2: I need to live the courage to call a friend; not because I think that they will give me the Golden Key, but because I believe that in the conversation I will say something, hear something, or think of something I can do now. They will be baby steps. I won’t be able to connect the dots between them and my ultimate goal, but they’ll give me something to do.
- Step 3: When I agree to take these baby steps even though I can’t see how they’ll solve my problem; I am letting the Goddess/God of my understanding lead me.
- Step 4: Beating myself up for all that I am not, know not, do not, or have not, will not help. Uncovering/recovering the skills, tools, attitudes, life experiences and awarenesses I’ve accumulated over a lifetime of problem solving is the very stuff of my personal resiliency resources. I am enough, I do enough, I have enough, and I know enough to take the next step.
And how can we support each other? A couple things come to mind:
First, we can listen with love. It’s the most important thing we can do for someone who is hurting. We are our sister & brother.
Second, we can help them begin to access their personal resiliency resources. How? We can ask our friend; “What did you do the last time you had an impossible problem?” I believe we all start from the same place even though we don’t know it, even though we don’t appreciate our record of successfully dealing with our life’s problems. We get to the place where we don’t know what to do next and then we call a friend – – powerlessness and power-filling. It’s the place to start. It’s the place we keep returning to as we take one step at a time until we solve this current unsolvable problem.
We will get through this together. We are children of the One, the Queen/King, Spirit, Creator, Sustainer & Redeemer of the universe. It’s taken me a lifetime to figure this out. I hope it helps you.
PS: I’ve named ST. ALEA (skills, tools, attitudes, life experiences & awarenesses) the patron saint of big “R” resiliency.