War Wounds Us in a Million Little Ways

Photo by   Kat Jayne   from   Pexels

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

We entered the house, myself and another soldier, knowing it was already cleared. The occupants sat outside in a line, zip-tied, so I sauntered in expecting my work to be quick and uneventful.

But some of the occupants were still in the house. 

There were children, disabled and malnourished, congregated on the floor of the main room. 

I remember there being four of them. One who scooted along on his knees, his head rolling around as if he didn’t have the neck strength to keep it steady. The others were sprawled about on the floor, in various shapes and various states of undress. 

I saw unfocused eyes, ribs jutting out from lack of food – I saw pain and discomfort and innocent little bodies hardly cared for and left alone while foreign soldiers barged into their home.

And I stepped over them.

I stepped over them, the ones lying on the floor, to get where I was going, to complete my mission.

I stepped over them, did what I came to do, walked back over them, finished the mission, and returned to the COP (combat outpost)..

I stepped over them and I didn’t think about them again until later, until I was back on American soil, until I was a few drinks in, and then I thought of them. 

I couldn’t have done anything, I thought to myself, and it is true. But the truer truth is – I didn’t consider doing anything. 

In that moment, on that day, in that house I did not consider the humanity of those kids. I didn’t think about if there was anything I could do for them. I didn’t even give them my consideration. I did my job, I completed my mission, I got home. 

And the reality is, nothing I could have done, felt, said would have done anything other than hurt the mission. It was not feasible or practical for me to have any feelings on the matter, to say anything, to attempt to do anything.

But.

That didn’t make me feel better as I stared down the neck of a beer bottle, remembering what they looked like lying across the floor, and recognized someone in myself – someone who could walk over those kids and then leave them behind without a thought. 

And I wept. I could tell you I wept for the children, for their pain and for their neglect and for their hunger, but that would be dishonest.

I wept because I now knew something about myself – something I didn’t want to know.

Because war changes you in a million little ways, and I didn’t particularly care for this way. 

War shows you what you’re capable of, and I didn’t particularly care for this capability.

 You might not think yourself capable of walking over vulnerable, disabled, malnourished children while you carry out your business, but maybe you are – maybe you are and you just haven’t been put to the test yet.

You might not think yourself capable of a lot of things, but war has a way of proving you wrong. Sometimes it’s positive things, like endurance and toughness and bravery. But sometimes it isn’t – sometimes it’s cowardice or indifference or inhumanity. 

The fear that comes from being confronted with what you’re capable of doing, the fear that comes from wondering what else might be dormant inside of you, this fear is hard to describe.

It’s easier to understand the fear that comes from bullets flying, from driving around knowing you could blow up at any moment, from blood and guts and adrenaline.

But this fear - this new terror - it’s harder to explain, it’s harder to wrap our minds around, and it’s probably, for me, my deepest wound.

I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this. War wounds us in a million little ways.

 **

I don’t write about my time in the Army much and don’t plan to. This place is all about how God is awesome, how life is short, and how this isn’t home. But I am part of a group called “Blogging For Better,” and this month we are raising awareness and money for Valor Clinic Foundation, whose mission is to improve the lives of veterans.  Find out more about Valor Clinic Foundation HERE.

On Fixing Our Eyes

www.stevieswift.com

It’s easy for the steady one, the one who yearns for stability and security - who is more at home the more structure surrounds him - it’s easy for him to hold tight to these good things.

It’s easy for him to think these good things he likes, maintains, seeks are the best things- it’s easy for him to think these good things are always God things.

And to look down on the other.

***

It’s easy for the adventurer, the wild one - the freedom-craving, convention-shattering, incessantly-questioning one - who is more at home without walls, who ran dancing and shouting from that prison cell when Christ set him free, it’s easy for him to hold tight to these good things.

It’s easy for him to think these good things he likes, maintains, seeks are the best things- it’s for him to think these good things are always God things.

And to look down on the other.

***

But we are the same.

The steady one and the adventurer. We both imperfectly follow our perfect God.

And the one who follows, who abides, who fixes his eyes - he will build and maintain a stable structure, even if he has the heart of an adventure. He will build and maintain if God told him too.

And the one who follows, who abides, who fixes his eyes - he will knock down every wall, defy convention, and dance among a gawking crowd, even if he has the heart of a steady one. He will dance, if God told him to.

I Hope You Live A Resurrected Life

JPEG image-FC08DEA35D3A-1.jpeg

I hope you wake up tomorrow to a resurrected life.

I hope you live as if you actually believe Jesus came, died, rose - that He invited you to die and live in Him, live for Him.

I hope you live a life that has died and been raised this week and this year and the rest of your time here on this earth.

I hope you live as if you actually believe in the awesomeness of the God who created the insanely expansive universe along with our minutely complicated bodies.

I hope you live as if you actually believe you were created to be with Him.

As if you were separated from that for which you were made.

As if the chasm between you and He was too great for you to ever cross.

As if He gave everything to make a way across that space you had no hope of closing.

As if He offered a way to be reunited and reconciled with Him. As if He made a way for you to come home.

I hope you live as if you said yes. As if you believe in the one God sent. As if you have died to yourself and been raised to new life in Christ.

As if God is awesome. As if life is short. As if this isn't home.

I'm Making A New List

JPEG image-BDFF83A55DDD-1.jpeg

I make lists more often than I eat meals. I make lists of random futuristic goals, I make unrealistic lists about things I’ll do today, I make bucket lists, I make lists of positive things to tell my kid, I make lists of people to reach out to in order to remind them I do not in fact hate them - I am simply a hermit - and I hope they are happy and breathing and all that jazz.  I make lots of lists.

There’s one list I don’t make anymore though. Maybe it is just a season, or maybe I will do this for life, but I am not currently working off of a list of ways to grow/serve/be like Jesus. I’m not working on my pride, I’m not seeking humility, I’m not trying to sand down my iron will, I’m not striving to produce fruit, I’m not wearing myself out with service projects – I’m not.

Jesus told us not to work for food that spoils, but for food that endures for eternity.  The hearers of these words, naturally, asked what work they needed to do to get this eternal food.  Jesus responded with a list of works they could do to earn it. (John 6:27-29)

1.     Believe in the one God sent.

End of list.

It can seem too easy. After all, of course I believe in Jesus. Check. Got it. Moving on. What’s next? Pride, you’re going down. Humility – I’m coming for you. Fruit – I’m going to produce more fruit than a ten-acre orchard, hold on while I make a list about it. Service projects – where you at? 

Believe in Him. Done and Done. Or is it? 

Do I believe in Him? 

Do I believe it is finished? If I do, why do I still get caught up trying to be “good enough” as if I could earn salvation?

Do I believe I am dead and I am living new life? Why do I still catch myself putting my own feelings and wants ahead of others.

Do I believe everything around me is temporary and I am made to live for eternity? Why do I still accumulate temporary stuff and accomplishments?

Do I believe I can and will love Him no matter the cost? Why do I still spend more time pleasing people than Him? 

Do I know His voice? Why do I still strain and question when I’m listening for an answer to prayer?

My lists of works to do for eternity is now this – Believe in Him. Believe in Him in every moment. Believe in Him in every situation, in every relationship, in ever hardship. Believe in Him when I’m filled with joy and when I’m filled with pain.  Believe when people love me and when people hate me. 

It’s a short list, but it’s the only one I need.  Believe in the one God sent.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

IMG_7307.JPG

It will. It’ll show up like it does every morning, borrowed for us from the other side of the earth, to enjoy while it’s our turn.


You can count on that sun for another few million years, and you can count on our God longer than that.

The sun - it’s coming. And it won’t burn away every sorrow of night, every regret from the shadows, every grief endured before dawn, but it will be there.

Sure and strong and bright as it was the day before. No matter what changed, no matter what pain you are bringing to the next day, some things will be the same.

The sun, for one, will be the same. And sometimes that’s all it takes to get through the hard days - just one thing to hold tight to, one thing the night can’t take too, one thing the dark won’t steal from you.

It’s the hope of a new day. Of who knows how many breaking dawns, of limitless possibilities - the sun will come out tomorrow