“The knight had lived in his armor for so long he had forgotten how everything felt without it. It took a tremendous blow on his helmeted head by a blacksmith with an axe, or by Juliet with the nearest vase, before he noticed even a twinge of his own pain. And since he had difficulty feeling his own pain, the pain of others went unnoticed as well”. The knight was too long in rusty armor.
We go through stages, from one to a stage to another. They generally follow this order:
- Initiation to something knew.
- Transition from the old to new.
- Confusion, until the new is found.
What a man is depends on what ‘season’ he is in.
The challenge of being a warrior is threefold:
- Knowing what to fight for.
- Knowing when to quit.
- Possible death or wounding.
It is not whether warriors are important, but whether, when they fight and go to war, they are fighting for the right values.
Raising your right hand at ‘the swearing in’ no one tells you, you could die doing this. When a battle worn soldier is wounded – he is the most suprised and feels extremely vulnerable, unable to defend for himself. The same in life outside of uniform.
Unlike many other traumatic experiences, combat can cause “moral pain” arising from “the realization that one has committed acts with real and terrible consequences.”
Vietnam War Vets have said:
- “Profound moral distress is the “real horror” of war, yet its effect on those who fight is rarely discussed”.
- “In a war, in a firefight, you’re both victim and perpetrator at the same time.”
- “At its heart, a trauma, and especially a war trauma, leaves a wound to the human spirit. When I came back, my spirit was pretty well shredded and ripped.”
- “Once the category of PTSD was established in the early ’80s, that swallowed the veteran whole,”
- “Combat creates far more wide-ranging problems than stress.”
- “Trauma can be characterized as a sense of betrayal of one’s experiences: life wasn’t supposed to be this way,”
- “The faith parallel to that would be the statement, ‘God has let me down. I did my part, and God didn’t do his.’”
For the ancient Hebrews, the shedding of blood was considered a source of contamination. The Book of Numbers dictated a seven-day period of segregation outside the camp for returning warriors and mandated the purification of fighters and their garments.
The ‘warrior heart in us’, never leaves us, but given enough time, the warrior fights enough battles to become severely wounded.
Wounded warriors are more dangerous in war or life – because he has settled values of life and death; and lives on with greater clarified perspectives, knowing the risks.
Isaiah 3:2 “… I am removing the warrior spirit …” When our life has nothing to fight for – our soul shrinks. Hope fades.
The voice within says, “flee” but there comes a time when that voice says, “fight” and life changes. Depends on what you fight for?
Man without faith wrestle with the calamity, but a man with faith wrestles with God over the calamity and get answers.
1Kings 19:12 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
God then gave him another commission, and Elijah did it. Healing comes in the renewed action in His will.
Dealing with suffering without God is more difficult to accept than with God.
The deep mortal wound has symptoms such as:
- “Rip, slash” in the soul, the dark gaping wound of the memory. Shrinks your world.
- Insecurity, selfishness, despair, materialism.
- The wounded define themselves by what they did, (the wounded warrior never leaves Woundedville), who they know, what they own.
- Who do we blame? Society, issues, our Daddies?
When a man is wounded by the blows of life:
- The wounds throw the sense of balance off. Cannot clearly define moral standards. Guilt of what they did which affected others is a very heavy weight to carry.
- A feeling of a distance or alienation from God.
- The wounded tend to bite every hand extended to help them.
We have devalued both the warrior and his wounds.
2Cor 12:9 “power is perfected in weakness” (Jacob vs Esau.)
Ja 1:12 “The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is the truly happy man. For once his testing is complete he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love him.”
Wounds of the flesh heal and scars are the shadows of what remains of the pain in the moment. But deep in the soul the pain throbs on and man-made walls are erected to keep out the vulnerability and weakness. It is here where real healing is done.
I know: I was wounded through both legs by an RPD machine gun, deep in enemy territory resulting in a hole through my right thigh and a torn open left knee, surviving 34hrs. in a war-zone before getting to a remote hospital with pneumonia in both lungs. I healed up in the flesh. Then came the time to get back into the war. I took a troop to the rifle range to test weapons. I gave orders to engage target with a full magazine of ammunition. When I heard the roar of atomatic-fire, the smell of cordite and diesel fumes – I had a ‘total recall’. By that I mean every memory of pain, intense fear, vulnerability and the gaping terror was real again. I had two choices: engage or quit.
I engaged. I reached for my weapon and joined in with my buddies firing at the large bank of earth 50 meters from us. I made each shot count on hitting something on that bank of earth – a leaf, piece of wood etc. Finally one of the troops said, “What are you doing, Sir?” I replied, “I am with you … unload your weapons and make safe”. That was the turning point. I had re-engaged as a wounded soldier. Back in the saddle. If I had not done that small act, I would not have changed within.
Vietnam/Israel: International Conference on Wartime Stress, Tel Aviv Israel.
In opposition to the way we treat our wounded in Vietnam, the Israelis had developed a different approach. In Vietnam, we evacuated our wounded out of the war zones as quickly as possible. It sounded like a good, sensible, medically efficient thing to do. Not so said the Israelis. Their first goal was to keep the wounded with their combat units and buddies as long as possible and do everything they can medically possible at the front. In Vietnam once the soldier was wounded, he was airlifted to a medical hospital, he was immediately stripped of his uniform and placed in the required slippers and hospital gown. Not so in Israel. They leave the uniform on, so when the wounded wake up, they still wear the uniform of the soldier. The results shared by the Israelis put the USA soldiers to shame. They valued the warrior even when wounded. They wanted the wounded warrior to still think of himself as a warrior, even when limbs were amputated and there was significant loss of human functioning.
The very way they talk about the past reveals their remorse in the present. They have not moved on in their masculine journey – ‘stuck in a moment’.
Their last stop on the male map was wounding. Will their journeys end there? They are still wounded, still experiencing some very deep-seated loss reactions. For men to confess what they feel and embrace their grief is not easy. Warriors don’t show pain.
Healed warriors do, with a lesson attached.
If you are wounded, God is your healed; Psalm 107:20 He sent His word and healed them”. There is the power to do what no man can – He can heal all of you.