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Spiritual Fitness

 

Spiritual Fitness

Marine Corps

Understanding Personal Faith
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Marines learn about personal faith from the moment they step off the bus in boot camp. As they stand on the yellow footprints and begin the painful refining process, they learn to  have faith that something important is happening to them.  Without faith in the Marine Corps, the boot camp process, their drill instructors, and in themselves, they likely wouldn't have the ability to persevere through the difficulties that they face every day.  It is drilled into them to trust their leaders, trust each other, and eventually, to trust their own training and abilities.  Each Marine is forced during the grueling experience of boot camp and the crucible to dig deep and identify sources of personal faith.

For example, when marines first learn to rappel, trusting in the rope can be difficult and disorienting.  However, with training and practice they quickly discover that their faith in the equipment gives them a solid connection that increases safety and stability and instills hope and confidence in accomplishing their task.  With practice, this form of faith becomes so ingrained in their training that they are able to rely on it without even blinking.


Individuals may exercise faith in a variety of things, each providing different spiritual and emotional benefits.  Below is a list of some of the more common objects of faith (the list is not intended to be in any particular order of importance).  The goal of this list is not to tell you what you should have faith in, but rather to encourage you to think about sources of personal faith for you.  Think about what you believe, why you believe in it, and what that faith does in your life.

Religion- The first thing most people think of when asked about faith is usually religion.  Many people belong to a religious organization that teaches faith in some form of higher power.  Religious teachings also often emphasize other objects of faith, such as scripture, religious leaders and clergy, a faith community, an afterlife, and even a lifestyle.  Religious faith has been shown to be effective at promoting spiritual fitness, especially when religious practice and belief is internalized (rather than just going through outward motions), and personal connection to the objects of faith is created. 

Higher Power-  Some people don't adhere to an organized religion, but still have faith in a God, or Higher Power of some kind.  The nature and level of daily involvement of that deity may vary from person to person.  It is up to each individual to determine for themselves what they believe about God and their personal relationship with their higher power.

 Family & Friends-  Family is an important object of faith for many people.  We often make decisions, endure hardships, and make great sacrifices because of our faith in family.  Family can provide meaning and support in return for our faith.

Unit-  Many veterans will tell you that in the middle of the nightmare conditions of combat, they did what they did (endure hardships, place themselves in danger, and even choose to stay with the unit when they had an opportunity to leave) for the Marines they fought with.  Faith in your unit is essential to operating efficiently.

Marine Corps- When you joined, you likely had faith that the Marine Corps could make you into something better and make you a part of something bigger.  Though that faith may evolve throughout your career, identifying the nature of your faith in the Corps can be of great benefit.

Nation- Patriotism is a unique kind of spirituality.  Many Marines joined the Corps because of their faith in their country and to defend the lifestyle it has provided them.

Self-  This is really faith in your "higher" self, or your best self.  It may include faith in your potential to create a good future.  It may include faith in your own skills and abilities.  It may be a faith in your own inherent worth.

There are many other objects of faith.  Take some time to identify other things you place trust in and how those beliefs can benefit you.

There are important benefits of personal faith.  When Marines in boot camp rely on faith in the process and those involved in the process, they may find that their faith results in greater ability endure and persevere.  When they are going through difficult moments that make them want to give up, faith in the process, and faith that their is a purpose for what is happening can give them the ability to better endure the discomfort. 

Connection-  When you place faith in something or someone, you often will develop a sense of connection to others who share that faith.  Those who have served in the Marine Corps, for example, often enjoy a strong sense of connection to each other and to the Corps long after they have retired.  Those who place faith in a cause, organization or an ideology may feel a strong connection to it's message and purpose.  Connection provides support and emotional strength.

Stability-  When rappelling, the rope provides an anchor and stability that makes descent much easier and safer.  In a similar way, personal faith provides emotional stability and confidence.  For example, when recruits are enduring the hardships of boot camp, faith in the Marine Corps, faith in the unit, and faith in ones own inner strength can stabilize their emotions during the ups and downs.  Personal faith provides staying power.

Hope-  Personal faith can cause you to view your challenges and your life with more hope and optimism.  Rather than focusing on the darkness of the moment, those with strong personal faith can often see a bigger picture which allows them to see that the difficult times they are going through are a passing storm rather than general darkness.  When you have hope and optimism, you are much more likely to overcome challenges and achieve goals.

Core Elements of Spiritual Fitness
 
 
 
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