JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The "Chaplain's Corner" offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.
Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.
A friend of mine often says, "Life is hard, wear a helmet." I think most of us can relate. Life doesn't ever seem to slow down and it feels like my very soul is engaged in a war of attrition. Maybe that's because we really are living in a world at war - on lots of levels.
Most of us simply suck it up and put the helmet on - partly because we have to and partly because we're not sure what else to do.
But there is no denying that real damage is being done daily to your soul - to the internal you - the real you.
My greatest challenge in writing this isn't convincing you that you have a soul, but that you need to care for it intentionally. Why? Because when the soul takes damage, we either seek either relief or restoration.
The funny thing is that relief comes in many forms that often do just as much damage in the long run. Relief and restoration are not the same things. I think you can probably read between the lines here.
Abusing alcohol and drugs are very common ways in which people seek relief from soul damage, and these can be very destructive. There are, however, many other forms of relief that are prevalent in our society. Pornography is one that is very damaging, to men especially.
As a November 2013 GQ article noted, consumption of pornography is actually destroying men's ability to establish healthy relationships as it continues to damage the soul.
Any behavior that does damage to the soul while providing temporary relief will, in the end, cause more harm - just as drinking salt water will provide a sense of relief, but only magnify the problem of dehydration. What our souls really need is not relief, but restoration.
I know my soul needs restoration on a regular basis and God provides for that. You are probably familiar with Psalm 23: "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul." Did you know Iditarod mushers literally have to make their dogs lie down, because without intervention they would run themselves to the point of death? He must "still" them.
So how does an arctic warrior intentionally take care of his or her soul? You've got to get quiet - and you've got to take in beauty.
Stillness equals giving your soul the opportunity to do nothing. Beauty can equal music, mountains, a river, art, or whatever feeds your soul deeply. Fortunately, we live in a place that has an abundance of both.
The temptation will be to dismiss this notion, but let me ask, what can you possibly offer your family or your Troopers if you are operating on an empty tank? When was the last time you set aside time for the restoration of your heart and soul?
Sure beats just putting on a helmet.