This #wordblog is inspired by Facebook friend Sandra Deal who asked me to blog on “War Veteran”.
This has been one of the most terrible weeks of my professional life.
One of my former students and his little brother were victims of a hit and run. They were walking home from a game from his current school, and were both hit so hard that pieces of the vehicle were left at the scene. (Please note: I asked my administrator what was appropriate to post on social media– this story was approved.)
I visited the boys in the hospital and their family was shell-shocked. Who thinks that they’ll never see their children the same way?
What kind of comfort can I offer them? What do I say to the young people who look to me for guidance?
I hadn’t been dealing well with it, on top of directing a school play that was supposed to open this past week as well. Blessedly it was postponed.
Who are we really, when faced with the very real fragility of our lives? The overwhelming sense of powerlessness rocks any foundation that you have.
You step into a world feeling prepared, but your strategies are nothing compared to hurricanes, plane crashes, and hit and run drivers. That is the nature of war. It’s unexpected and full of conflict. We put on this persona of strength and independence, and continue to walk into the world shell-shocked. Our stubborn resilience makes us all war veterans.
But that’s it– our humanity is very fragile. Our experiences show that to be true. The war is within us. We are not telling ourselves the truth. We think that to survive in the universe we have to lie about our weaknesses.
War veterans return home, and they’re not the same. The fragility of their lives was exposed to them on a daily basis, and they were expected to jump into the very things that threatened their lives. This is the horror of war– that your facade of strength is all a lie. “Veteran” comes from a Latin word meaning “old”; this is a very old lie that we’ve lived through.
We aren’t strong by ourselves. We live in a world that is increasingly connected– and there lies our only hope of strength.
When I went into the hospital, a visitor asked the boys’ mother to recount the story of the incident. I pulled her aside and asked her to remember who she could be to them: a reminder of the horror, or a beacon of light. She thanked me for the reminder. I was able to find that light for her, because I had prayed and called a friend before I walked into the room.
Today, I encourage you to give up the facade of being strong. Do you know how fragile your humanity is? Are you treating it with extreme care? Have you surrendered to the part of you that feeds on hope and joy and peace? Are you connected to people and things that remind you of your capacity for compassion and generosity?
If not, you won’t have any space to love and heal others. You won’t have anything to give– because the world will have snatched your lie from you.
Stop putting yourself through unnecessary conflict. Be real about your weaknesses and needs.
What do you think? Do we need to lie to maintain a professional life? How have you dropped your armor? Comment below.