In our lives we make decisions that in hindsight weren’t so good. We also make great decisions that can change our lives forever. It’s the one moment where life has fallen apart around you, the moment you can’t see the next breath you take, you can’t take a single step forward, life has stopped and the world looks like it’s moving around you at near light speed. The moment when all hope is lost, and the decision you make seems like the right one, but what if there was a way to move that step forward, what if I told you there was hope, and there is a next breath, would that change your mind for the next catastrophe in your life?
For many veterans and civilians who’ve gone through trauma getting stuck in that moment is all too common. When we get stuck we go through our days only a shell of who we used to be. We eat, we work, we sleep, we may even contribute to the life around us, but we aren’t really there. The sludge of the weight of what we carry builds as we trek through the mud farther and farther. There will come a point when you have the black tar from your shoes up to your neck. At some point you won’t be able to move forward anymore. No matter what our event is, whether it’s the death of a loved one, the loss of a spouse, sexual assault, horrific car accident, fire, or even just a series of events that you have entered that hurts those around you. We often push away people we love because we don’t want them to see us in pain, we don’t want them to see us suffering. We push away to defend ourselves, and them, from potential damage. We don’t want to drag anyone down with us, and sometimes it’s because we just can’t see beyond our own pain.
Being pushed away by someone who’s going through a lot of pain is hard. Knowing you want to help, and feeling powerless is perhaps the most difficult position to ever be in. Seeing someone you care about in pain, seeing them walk down a dark path, and when all you want to do is take their pain away and shower them in love, yet you’re held away, and pushed and kicked out of their life, is heart breaking.
For each of our mistakes we see the other side of other peoples. When we know they are making a mistake all we can do is pray for them. All we can do is hope that one day they will turn around from the path they’re on and hopefully do so before anything to bad happens they can’t come back from. For me I gravitated to the song One Step Away by Casting Crowns:
What if you could go back and relive one day of your life all over again
And unmake the mistake that left you a million miles away
From the you, you once knew
Now yesterday’s shame keeps saying that you’ll never get back on track
But what if I told you
You’re one step away from surrender
One step away from coming home, coming home
One step from arms wide open
His love has never let you go
You’re not alone
You’re one step away
It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone
Mercy says you don’t have to keep running down the road you’re on
Love’s never met a lost cause
Your shame, lay it down
Leave your ghosts in the past ‘cause you know that you can’t go back
But you can turn around
You’ve never been more than
We aren’t ever alone. This message goes out to my veteran brothers and sisters, we aren’t ever alone. We sit at home, we have the open bottle of beer or booze, and we seclude ourselves in the dark, thoughts screaming in our head. We can’t seem to get out of the way. This, is, torture. When we trained for war we trained as a team. When we get home we see that no one is there for us, no one understands, how could anyone, they weren’t there. The thing is, that’s all an elaborate lie by the Devil to separate us from the world, and break us down. It’s not true. There are plenty of other veterans out there struggling with their own replay of war. Something else I’ve learned is trauma is trauma no matter what kind. Sexual assault, loss of loved ones, fire, car accidents, none of that is exclusive to military. Sure firefights may be a bit more segregated, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t there for you. We have support groups, veterans groups, outreach programs, and so much more to help get us all back to a good healthy place.
We all have our regrets in life but one of the biggest battles we will ever face is facing those mistakes. Allowing ourselves to heal from them on the inside by forgiving ourselves, asking others to forgive us and showing true repentance for those mistakes. Philippians 3:13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” We must go forth to God and ask for forgiveness, but we also need to make it right, we need to attempt to right our wrongs. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” One thing that I am reminded of is how easy it is to get off track. How often do we do a wrong based on how someone else wrongs us? We as Christians should hold ourselves to a higher standard, and not fall into the world expectations. We cannot allow the world to dictate how we react, or how we treat others. We mustn’t let the world tell us the lies we often feel when dealing with life’s tragedies. Isaiah 43:18-19 “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.” We cannot know what our tomorrow brings, and we cannot know what surprises will be waiting for us just around the next bend in the road.
In all things in our life we should move forward with kindness in our hearts, forgiveness isn’t something to be earned, it’s something to be given freely. We can’t hold our forgiveness hostage like some kind of ransom is required to give it. If we are to live like Christ we must learn that people are sinful, people hurt others, we hurt them, and forgiveness isn’t always rebuilding the relationship if it’s lost. Christ forgave humanity for our sins despite the awful things we as a collective whole did to Him. We were not only forgiven for past and current sins, but future sins we might face in the future. 2 Corinthians 7:10 “10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” When Judas betrayed Christ he could not get past his own grief and he took his own life by hanging. This is worldly sorrow. There is not repentance to be had, and no chance of redemption. We all Sin, we have make mistakes big and small. Even David a man of God’s own heart was not free from them. David was well known to be a fair man as a King, but he was a horrible husband and father. Psalm 51:1- 3 “51 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”
No matter how far we’ve fallen, there is always a way back. Even when it’s adulatory or other forms of betrayal. Proverbs 6:32-34 “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.” A man shall not take revenge for himself, for revenge is not bringing harmony. Justice is for the Lord. Forgiveness is for man, asking for it, and giving it freely. Do not allow your life to come to the end and regret a multitude of things. Make right your wrongs, make right the harm you’ve cause, the pain you’ve inflicted. Seek forgiveness in others, beg for forgiveness of the Lord. Let go of your own pain, and do not carry that weight with you. If you continue to carry a weight like that around you cannot continue to God’s work when you have so much on your shoulders already. Allow God’s grace to fill you, let yourself see through God’s eyes, let yourself feel with God’s heart, and learn to let go of judgments, let go of your own sorrow. Do not allow yourself to be weighed down any longer.
We all have things in our life we wish we could take back, things we could change. We can’t ever retrieve something we’ve let slip from out mouths, undo an action, but we can attempt to make right what we’ve done. Don’t wait for tomorrow, start healing today. Let the weight of the world fall from your shoulders, and find a new way, a better way, a Godly way of dealing with life, and facing the trials ahead of you. Our way is never the way even if it’s easier sometimes the easy way isn’t the right way, sometimes the right way is the path less traveled. It’s our job as Christians to figure out the path God wants us to be on. When we don’t know the path to take we must turn to the scripture and pray about our path. Proverbs 18:13 “13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Don’t make a decision without knowing as much of the facts as possible so be sure to not make foolish decisions. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by fake or false information. Proverbs 18:15 “15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” When you think you know something, don’t be quick to pass judgement without gaining other perspectives and complete the story. Don’t take a story as true just on face value. Proverbs 18:15 “15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”
Knowing what to expect when problems comes up is one thing. Knowing how to respond is the second side of that coin. We must know that in our lives we will face problems, we will face trials, and in all of those trials we know that we must accept and rejoice in those times. James 1:2-4 “2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” If anyone out there is like me the WHY ME question comes up sometimes. We know that patience is something we all need more of, and in our trials we are often tasked with growing in our faith, draw closer to God and growing in patience. IF we learn how to respond to issues, we could very well have fewer regrets in our life. John 16:33“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” When standing on the beach of the ocean we do not stand with our backs to the waves (generally) because when the big one hits us we get knocked own. Instead we face the wave head on, and we brace for it. Knowing what Christ expects of us on how to handle our troubles, knowing how to handle heartbreak, and betrayals, we can minimize the damage and we can help prevent us from getting into as much trouble.
We won’t always make all the right choices all the time, we won’t always handle every situation the best we can, we are human, we are driven by sin nature, and thus we will undoubtedly make mistakes. It’s in those mistakes however we know how to seek forgiveness, and seek repentance when they do occur. It’s in those mistakes, those hardships that our true character is placed on display. We find out more about ourselves through our trials then when things are always a batch of roses. Just remember that even the prettiest of roses have thorns. Seek God for the answers to your troubles, and seek God to the direction of your path. You may not be able to get rid of regret, but you can minimize its impact.