I’m at home in warrior culture. I am the son of a US army officer. I spend a lot of time with members of the military. I am around athletes a great deal. I’m drawn to people given to great causes. Though I’ve never served in uniform myself, I’m most at home in warrior culture.
It has served me well, for I believe that life requires us to be at war in some arena of our lives nearly all the time. Our society tells us otherwise. It tells us that the presence of battle and discomfort means something is wrong. I don’t agree. I believe that contending against opposition of some kind is part of what we are made to do in this world.
We know this is true if we ponder it for a moment. Striving to be our best is a type of war—a war for mastery of ourselves, at the least. Pushing back against societal pressures and domination is another type of war. We war when we work and pray to call out the best in our children. Finishing a degree, doing a difficult job, breaking from destructive family history, even striving to love—all are battles of some kind.
We all have a fight. The art of life and leadership is to know the definitions of our fight, to become skilled in that fight, and to remain engaged until the fight is won.
What works against us is believing that comfort and ease are our natural conditions. Believing this can make us bitter when battle is required. We can resent the intrusion and hope for escape. This can make us weak, cowardly, and angry.
We can also be sabotaged by not knowing the nature of our fight. Many of us habitually fight the wrong fight against the wrong enemy and so miss the great victories that are possible. For example, perhaps we are supposed to be nobly contending to rise in our jobs. Instead, perhaps we settle for smaller battles with our spouses and never engage at work. Or, perhaps we are meant to be fighting for new territory in our spiritual lives or new breadth of love at home. Instead we bicker with friends and get surly with God because we don’t have what we want when we want it. You see how it goes.
We are called to be happy warriors. We are meant to know that a righteous life requires constant battle. We should settle in. We should develop better radar. We should get accustomed to being at war. We should make sure to be fighting the right enemy at the right time in the right way.
The good news is that the presence of war in your life isn’t a defeat. War is part of life. Defeat comes when we don’t mount up, when we don’t engage. Defeat comes when we resent the strain of battle and yearn like spoiled children for a life of toys and snacks. That’s not life. It’s perpetual immaturity.
Know your fight. Learn to fight well. Fight when you must, where you must. Be at peace everywhere else. Stop resenting the fight and blaming others. God is with you and there is nothing quite like the joy and the scars of the warrior poet. Welcome to warrior culture.
That’s it. Have a great weekend. And, appropriately, go Fighting Irish of Notre Dame!
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