Monday, September 10, 2012

Vigilant friend

I saw a post on Facebook last evening which gave me a moment to pause.  In the story, there is a photo of a marine in his dress uniform, standing at attention, in the middle of a hospital ward.  Now, this alone gave me chills.  As a nurse, I have seen a whole lot of people keep "vigil" over the ill, but nothing quite like this.  The story is worth the read, so I included the link at the end of the blog in case you'd like to read it.  In general, the story involved a young boy fighting leukemia since he was 22 months of age.  His basis for hope in the battle was his constant inspiration of the US Marine Corps.  He found courage for the battle - fighting several recurrences of his disease into remission.  He was honored by the US Marine Corps for his fight and his determination. man went above and beyond in "honoring" this young man.  His story is included in the link.

When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.”  (Deuteronomy 20:1-4 The Message)

There are all kinds of "wars" we might engage in as life unfolds, aren't there? The battle does not need to be physical - one army against another.  It may be as evasive as a battle of our emotions, or as plain as a battle between our determination to get something done our way against the desires of another.  It could be the battle for truth, when untruth seems to have clouded the truth in our lives.  For many, the battle is one of hope in the midst of a crippling, destructive disease.  Regardless of the battle, we see several consistent things.  The battle of our minds may be the hardest one to fight - simply because we don't "know" the enemy at times.

The battle brings us face-to-face with some "enemy".  No battle is ever fought with only one "side".  As a child, I thought the saying, "It takes two to tango" really was "It takes two to TANGLE".  In hearing this saying, I thought people were saying both parties had to have their feet dug in and their hands up, ready to swing.  In reality, what is being said is there is always another side to the battle.  It may be our own mind, but when our thoughts are at the center of the battle, believe me this is a tough enemy to face!  The enemy we "face" may be moving in opposite (opposing) direction to the way we wish to move - hence, the comparison to the tango.  In the tango, two move at times in tandem, at others, they are in opposition.  This is the same with the battle in our minds.  Sometimes, we get things moving in the same direction, then seem to realize we are moving in opposition again.  At times, we just "see" the influence of the enemy, but don't really understand the direction it is taking us!  So, when faced with an enemy, the first thing we need to know is what direction we may be headed.  

Knowing the direction our "enemy" will take may be easier for us to interpret in some of our battles - such as when we can actually see a punch coming in a hand-to-hand fight, or understand we are in for a fight when dealing with a life-altering disease.  In most of our battles which transpire in the mind, as with many life-altering diseases, we don't "see" the enemy clearly.  Interpreting the next move may be more difficult, as a result.  This is how we get caught off-guard so many times!  Especially in the battle within our minds.

This last week, I had a day where I just could not break free of a particular "funk" I was in.  No matter how hard I tried, I just was in a low place.  I could not seem to put my finger on what "enemy" I was facing.  It was pulling me deeper into negativity, causing my responses to be quite short, and my actual "feelings" to be even darker.  Now, some may say I was facing depressive thoughts - but I don't think it was this concrete.  In fact, as I took the next day to "break free" of this dark influence, I eventually came to realize I really had no "name" for it!  Maybe it was a combination of some out of whack hormones, building tensions as deadlines approach for an important project where changes are forth-coming, and the fact I have a tendency to "over-work" things in my mind.  I don't really know - but I do know it was influencing me to the point others noticed!

In fact, I have a great friend who helped hold me accountable for my behavior.  Thank goodness!  It was her reminder of my "inconsistencies" between my actions of the moment and my desired lifestyle which caused her to let me know I was being "pulled under".  It hit me hard when she first told me, but it was by her holding me accountable that I began to determine in my heart and mind to face this "enemy" and put an end to "it".  I wonder if this is why God planned for the Israelites to bring the priests before them each time they went into battle against some enemy?  Maybe it was the importance of the priests reminding them of the purpose of their lives as dedicated unto the Lord Most High which would help them keep a right perspective in the battle.  Maybe it was their words which turned their eyes to the one who would protect them and bring them out of the battle safely.  I think maybe both are true.

In facing the battles of our lives, I think we need help at times seeing the "enemy" as it rears its ugly head.  Sometimes the enemy is evident - but when it is not, we need the faithfulness of companions in the battle to help us see perspective.  I am glad to report, the enemy is slain!  I still don't know the cause of the oppressive and negative thoughts which were pulling me under, but I do know the faithfulness of a great God who is far stronger than any enemy we face in our minds!  And...I know the faithfulness of a great friend who "stood vigil" over me that day - helping to bring the battle into perspective!  All I can say is - awesome!

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