By contributing writer Rachel Mae Aguilar. Originally published in KidSpirit Magazine's Change & Loss Issue.
Change and loss are part of everyone's lives.
They can be either beneficial or hurtful, but in each case transformation can cause us to change spiritually. In times of a positive change, our spirituality may become stronger. One may put more faith in the unknown because the results are beneficial. Or maybe a positive change will cause our spirituality to decrease.
When change or loss give negative results, spirituality may also be affected. It may increase because it causes you to wish for more hopeful scenarios. It may decrease if you have lost trust and faith.
However, the bigger question may be whether or not you will allow your spirituality to grow or decrease in times of change and loss. It may be harder to have faith during a disheartening situation. People are more hesitant to trust anything when they have been shaken out of their comfort zones. On the other hand, our spirituality may be lessened during a positive situation, because we may believe that our own efforts to obtain our goals are more successful than relying on strong spiritual backing.
I have a best friend. Let's call her Nicole. Nicole and I have been best friends since birth. I was always the outgoing one, while she remained reserved and kept more to herself. Always focused on her academic studies, she did not really have a bubbly character, but more of a studious and stern personality.
Recently, Nicole was hit by an SUV. Upon walking home from the bus stop, she had been so engrossed in getting her homework done that she failed to look both ways when crossing the street. Thankfully, she survived the crash and managed to walk out of the accident with nothing more than a broken collar bone. If the driver had hit her and run, Nicole's body would have been run over and she would have been killed on the spot.
That day, Nicole's mother immediately called my father, Nicole's godfather. My dad rushed to the hospital. Upon returning home, my dad told me about her condition. Already Nicole had become more sensitive. She had even asked my father to give her a kiss on the cheek before he left the hospital.
A week passed. A godmother whom Nicole and I shared called me, asking why I hadn't called Nicole. "I don't know," I replied. It didn't seem necessary. To this day, I am so glad I called her.
As I heard her voice on the other end, I don't know what came over me.
"RAAAAAAAAACHHHHHHHHHEELLL!" she yelled. She was overjoyed to hear my voice.
"I MISSED YOU SO MUCH! I DIDN'T THINK YOU WERE EVER GOING TO CALL! I THOUGHT YOU FORGOT ABOUT ME, YOUR BEST FRIEND!"
"No, no, I didn't forget about you," I replied.
"AREN'T YOU GLAD I'M ALIVE, RACHEL? Aren't you glad? I'm still here! I'm still smart! I can walk, I can think, and I can talk on my own! I'm ALIVE!"
"Yes, Nicole. Yes, you are."
"Rachel, I love you. I LOVE EVERYONE! I'm so happy I'm alive! I got hit by a 4x4! Can you believe that? An SUV! Tell me you love me too, Rachel!"
"Yes, Nicole. I love you. I'm so glad you're OK. But I have to go now, all right? I'll talk to you soon. Bye."
"Bye, Rachel. I love you!"
I hung up the phone. I didn't want to tell her that I started crying. I didn't want her to hear me sobbing on the other end. Nicole never told me she loved me before. She was never comfortable saying something like that. She was never this open.
Nicole's family has become more spiritually aware because of this experience. Nicole's grandmother adorns her family members with religious ornaments and prays more often. Nicole's mother believes that a higher power is determined to take her child away from her, and for this reason is very hesitant to leave Nicole alone.
Others may not have reacted the same way. It is possible for people to become less spiritual after an accident, blaming higher powers for putting humans in dangerous situations. People tend to become more down to earth after a bad experience, realizing that they are just human and that bad things can, and do, happen. They may even come to the conclusion that no higher power will save them. Worldly accidents may be enough to cause a person to depend solely on themselves and no one, or nothing, else.
Nicole is physically fully healed now. My friend's accident resulted in a stronger sense of my own spirituality. In fact, I believe that our entire group of friends and family are spiritually stronger. We have been tied into a closer knot. We are thankful for each safe trip, whether it be a long distance or to the supermarket. We are more attuned to ourselves and others, valuing our loved ones and appreciating our lives more deeply.
When we experience change and loss we seem to have a different relationship with what is unknown. We like to thank the unknown for unfathomable good luck or for a good performance. It is common to see people do rituals before every major performance. "Thank God!" is frequently shouted out after a good event. This, although maybe sometimes indirectly, is our thanks to the unknown for something good.
On the other hand, if a disaster occurs, it is hard for someone to be thankful to a higher power. It seems very hard to believe in something if it is never there and only bad things happen as a result. However, in Nicole's case, her family became more spiritual because they were thankful that she came out of the accident with minimal injury.
So how, you say, do change and loss help us grow spiritually? We go through changes every day, whether they are minor or major. We do not necessarily have to be optimists to see the good in every situation, nor pessimists to feel betrayed and lose hope. Bad events can cause us to lose our spirituality. People may lose hope and faith. Regardless of how we look at our situation, we must choose how to handle it. We will either thank the unknown or be in awe of it. In the end, spiritual growth depends on the events that we go through, and how we decide to view them.
Rachel Mae Aguilar wrote this piece when she was 15 years old. She enjoys the simple things in life, but can easily get carried away with a challenging project or idea. She currently lives in New City, New York.