The Habit of Fortitude

It sounds impossible to really be in control enough that plans happen, no matter what. If you really refuse to give in to the disruptive things life throws at you and just take them in stride and keep your eyes focused on your goal you end up very creatively finding solutions.

Life can be really tough, and throw a lot of curve balls. Chronic pain and health issues can really throw a wrench into your best laid plans. Sometimes life brings us into really difficult situations that we have to really plow through and continue on.

James Stenson wrote an ‘Overview of Virtues’ which talks about self mastery and character strengths. He talks about Fortitude in this way:

Personal Courage

  • Acquired ability to overcome or endure difficulties: pain, inconvenience, disappointment, setbacks, worry, tedium.
  • Habit of overcoming anxiety through purposeful, honorable action.
  • Attitude of seeing escape as something unworthy, even dishonorable.
  • Realization that “anticipation” is usually worse than “reality.” Projected problems are generally lighter and easier than we expect them to be.
  • Confidence in problem-solving abilities, built through lifetime practice in solving problems.
  • Determination to overcome personal shortcomings. If we are shy, we learn to be friendly and a “good listener.” If we are impulsive, we practice restraint and reflection about consequences. If we are lazy, we strive toward purposeful action. If we do not understand something, we make effort to study.

I choose to define fortitude in this way:

Fortitude is always reasoned and reasonable. Mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously: strength and firmness of mind; resolute endurance

Through time, people have had to show fortitude to survive. Plagues, wars, and so much more.

Resources to Teach Fortitude

Biblical Story (Joshua 1)

Joshua was told by God that he had to step up and take the place of Moses as the leader of the Israelites. He is a man of integrity and faith. Can you imagine taking leadership after the amazing miracles and happenings of Moses? If we start at the beginning of Joshua’s story we find he had been well prepared. God spent more than 40 years grooming him for the job. Obedience, faith, and dependence on God made Joshua one of Israel’s strongest leaders. He provided a bold example for us to follow. Like us, Joshua was often besieged by other voices, but he chose to follow God, and he did it faithfully.

Story Books

Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride by Marsha Amstel
~ Tells of a young girl that goes on a ride much like Paul Revere

The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
~ Tells of a 6 year old girl, whom in 1960, a judge ordered her to attend an all-white elementary school.

I Don’t Want to Go by Addie Sanders
~ Joey has the worst trip ever turn into an exciting experience instead.

People in History

David Livingstone + Joan of Arc + St. Patrick + Harriet Tubman + William Tyndale + Helen Keller + Sir Edmund Hillary

Other Ideas

  • Check the news for articles that highlight people in our time that have overcome hardships and done good.
  • Talk about your personal experiences, and family history in which life was hard, but good persevered.
  • Most importantly; MODEL fortitude in your own life.

How would you teach the habit of Fortitude?

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