Comprehensive Airman Fitness 2015: Spiritual fitness
By Capt. Kenneth Johnson, 509th Bomb Wing Chaplain
/ Published January 22, 2015
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Avengers ... step aside! Of recent it seems that Hollywood has become interested in the biopic stories of war heroes, such as Chris Kyle, Marcus Luttrell and Louis Zamperini. Certainly, they have not replaced the fictional characters of Iron Man and Thor who battle intergalactic war criminals. Yet, box offices around the country hint to the kinds of stories that appeal to the heart.
These real life events and battles that are happening while most of the country enjoys the freedoms that are made possible by men and women in uniform who run toward the battle, who have left family and personal cares behind.
On opening weekend of Chris Kyle's story, portrayed in Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper", I made the mistake of arriving to a matinée 10 minutes before show time. As we stood in front of the theater, with popcorn and soda in hand, we looked for the few possibilities left to find a seat. I assumed those who I sat snug next to were veterans, those who had been exposed to the evils of war, or families who had lost something or someone in battle. Portions of Chris' story highlight the challenges of a wounded warrior who was able to keep it together in front of those around him, but in silence had a restless internal battle that raged against. Behind the armor and poise of this Navy Seal, Chris was just like anyone of us, a human being trying to make sense of the world around him while trying to hold it all together by himself.
Making sense of the world around us is a life-long endeavor. It is my personal belief that faith helps, in many ways, to capture the meaning of my purpose and how I fit in the greater picture of human history. My beliefs as a Christian have provided me throughout the years the resolve and anchor in the face of my personal crises and hardships, from death of loved ones to relational challenges I had to face. Admittedly, there have been times in my life when I have not exercised my faith through daily rituals of prayer, scripture reading and fellowship within my faith tradition. On those days, I would feel wasted and empty, as if driving on gas fumes. Strangely enough, it is often in those times when hardship and personal stress strikes with full on assault.
I have counseled many Airmen who have shared in confidence their buried internal battles and emotional conflicts. Often, as they remembered a time when they felt at their best, the memory had something to do with their faith tradition, when they were engaged with their God and faith community.
On the week of Feb. 17, the Spirit Chapel will be sponsoring a Spiritual Renewal Week. The kick-off to the week will be 2015 National Prayer Breakfast, held at the Mission's End Club at 8 a.m. We ask that you would respond to the invite in your e-mail, Whiteman's Facebook page, or the Whiteman AFB Chapel Facebook page.
Throughout the remainder of the week there will be Christian, Muslim and Jewish observances to promote personal spiritual renewal. These events will be posted on Whiteman AFB Chapel Facebook and brochures. I want to encourage you to find ways to connect with your faith tradition. Perhaps it may help resolve whatever inner battle that you're dealing with.