Have I done enough?
This blog is dedicated to Roger. Roger will be remembered for his big smile and goofy demeanor. He will also be remembered for his dedication to his men, his hard work and his never quit attitude. I spoke with a mutual friend a few days ago and was told that the talked about life and war but at no point did the thought of suicide ever come up. The question that keeps coming up in my mind is “Did I do enough?”
Roger hails from a military community that proudly looks each other in the face and repeats the words, “Never above you, never below you, always beside you.” The quote which is taken from the NY columnist Walter Winchel is a fitting one for these men of action who like Winchel, do not live perfect lives, say things they should not, but work hard and look out for one another. But, it still begs the question, “Did I do enough?”
It is no mystery that military men have come back from combat with issues that are hard to deal with. Issues that civilians typically do not deal with and have no way to relate to. It is also not a mystery that our men in uniform deal with their problems in a variety of ways that vary from healthy to downright self-destructive. We all come back from combat with our own issues. Then, mixed in with the stress of daily life and family, those issues can tend to become compounded. But we all deal with “junk” in our own ways and seem to make it through life just fine. With all of the reports of divorce, abuse and suicide that are bubbling up I cannot help but to reflect on all of my time around my brothers and ask, “Did I do enough?”
We live in a world where there are numerous outlets for dealing with stress, anger, depression, substance abuse and other PTSD related issues. Any resource that gets a guy through another day is worth refereeing a guy to, if we are able to keep him by our side. But what about the long run? What about tomorrow or next year or 10 years from now? Is self-worth really enough to sustain? Is not hurting my friends and family when I hurt them with my anger, stress or poor decisions a good enough reason to continue on? So, the more I hear of guys that are hurting themselves, ruining their families and taking their own lives keeps me begging the question, “Did I do enough?”
There can be a lot of pain and very little relief in the stressors of being a warrior. And there are varying levels of healing that can come from relationships and programs. One thing remains constant through it all, the love that Jesus has for us. As we search for a greater meaning instead of dwelling in the pain, it is easy to come up short. But the true healing of the spirit that we need is often overlooked. Jesus promised us peace and reminded us to not let our hearts be troubled. (John 14:27) He really wants us to understand that through the trials of life there is hope of salvation in Him. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10 that the trials we endure are not new, we are not alone and that there is a way out. So, knowing that there is better way to deal with the stress of life, “Did I do enough?”
I have dealt with stress in my own ways throughout the years as well. Speaking with an SF soldier recently, I am discouraged that even the smartest and toughest guys are still dealing with PTSD that is destroying their lives and the lives of their family. Command Chaplains are not very well advertised as a good resource for the troops. And frankly, there is a lot of false religion growing in the Chaplain Corps that cannot provide true hope. So what is the answer to the question? How do we do enough for our brothers that have lost hope? I would challenge my brothers and sisters in Christ to present them with the Gospel message. Share with them, the hope that does not fail. And for those warriors that are having a hard time finding a reason to continue on, I will share with you the words of Jesus “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Did I do enough? Share the hope of Christ with your friends. Every troop that we lose to their own pain amplifies the urgency of the Gospel. Boldly proclaim his healing power for your life and the lives of your brother, sisters and their families. Give them the opportunity to be healed by the God that does not fail.
“Never above you, Never below you, Always beside you.”
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14)