Resiliency is something we spend a lot of time talking about in the Air Force. There are good reasons for this. We face changes and challenges to ourselves and our families. Circumstances may arise in our lives that we have no control over. Some of them may leave us with feelings of fear and uncertainty.
How we handle change can help us move forward or leave us wondering how we’re going to make it. We can learn how to handle these by taking a lesson or two from “the horse’s mouth.” Many of my younger years were spent in Poway, Calif., a community known for the large population of horses that many people owned. I did not personally have a horse, but I had many friends who did and we would often ride the trails throughout the hills.
Horses have a finely tuned fear response, which can spell disaster on a trail ride. A thousand-pounds-plus of uncontrolled horse spooked by a snake on the trail is not a pretty sight. A good trainer will teach trail horses to “startle in place.” Every muscle may be tensed, ears forward and eyes wide open, but the horse will react by standing still for a brief moment. That gives the rider enough time to take control and direct the horse towards the safer route. In the military, one of the basics of survival training is to think before you act. Fear is a natural instinct we all possess, so how do we handle those things that suddenly appear in our lives that are unexpected and produce fear or uncertainty?
Jesus’ disciples faced fear and uncertainty when Jesus told them he would be leaving them, after three years of followership. Sensing their fear and panic he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:7). Knowing fear was natural and Jesus was simply telling them to “startle in place” — to be disciplined in their fear response. Another verse tells us to “seek peace while it may be found.” As hard as it may be at times, know where that is for you. It may be with your faith, with family members or a special friend.
When circumstances happen in your life that may incite fear, respond to it, do not react to it. Develop a healthy fear response that will allow you to get direction to a safe course. Know that there are those around you to help guide you safely.