Fallen Soldiers March®

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Fallen Soldiers March® 501 (c) (3) non-profit

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Fallen Soldiers March®

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Fallen Soldiers March®

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A 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Dedicated to
Providing Biblical Counseling,
Service Dogs, and Veteran Advocacy

Not Created for Combat

Not Created for Combat

by Barrett Craig, U.S. Navy Chaplain, ACBC Certified Biblical Counselor

She marched into my office, plopped down on my couch, and said, “I want to hear what you have to say.” I had never seen this woman before. She was dignified, dressed in business casual, well put together, but clearly distraught. At the time I was serving with the Marines as a chaplain in Okinawa, Japan. There were thousands of Marines on the island, so I assumed she was a spouse. I didn’t have much time mentally to sort everything out before she immediately began telling me how she had just come from her counselor strait to my office. She explained with anger and tears in her eyes that her counselor advised her to divorce her husband.

But there was something in her eyes, something in her tone of voice, something that told me she wanted me as a Christian chaplain to tell her something different. She wanted to hear what the Bible had to say. I didn’t know all her circumstances. I didn’t know the full state of her marriage, but as she began explaining some of the challenges they were facing, I soon began realizing there was no need for a divorce. Yes, they had some challenges. Yes, from her perspective he sounded like he was often a jerk. But nothing they couldn’t work out with time. I then asked her, “Do you want to hear what might sound like the harder but hope-filled road to take?”

She said, “yes.” So I went on to give her a broad robust biblical view of marriage. I explained the gospel of Christ. I explained her ultimate need. I explained that marriage is hard, but that the Lord is good. I explained how the Lord is in her marriage for the long haul, that he is in control. I explained what it means to love your spouse with the same type of long suffering with which the Lord loves us. She regularly nodded her head, saying, “I know, I know. I know, what you’re saying is right.” She knew the easy way was to leave her husband. But now she was faced with a harder way, but a hope-filled way, of casting herself on Christ and then loving her husband with the same love with which God had loved her.

She left my office thanking me and relieved she hadn’t taken the hasty advice of her counselor and instead gave a try to what the Bible had to say.

So Many Options
When it comes to getting psychological help these days, there is no shortage of supply. Psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counselors, coaches, and host of others. Who should you choose to see for your problems? How should you choose to see who you see?
Who does what? Finding the person to help you these days is daunting.

And especially if you are a combat veteran, not only do you not want to rehash all your pain, but if you do, what psychologist, what counselor could handle all your pain? Would they know how to handle all the hard things you saw and did? I’m sure there are plenty of mental health professionals who would be sympathetic and even offer some helpful encouragement and advice. But would they tell you everything you need to hear? Would they tell you that there may be a harder road you need to take, but a road which will ultimately lead you to hope?

Everyone Has a Worldview
Everyone has a worldview. What I mean by worldview is that everyone works from a set of beliefs to interpret life. We wear those sets of beliefs like glasses as we look at the world around us. Our sets of belief govern almost everything we do, every decision we make. On a grand scale, those beliefs govern whether we vote republican or democrat, or on a smaller scale, whether we get a tattoo or not. We all think from a certain set of beliefs, a worldview.

So too, psychologists, counselors, and therapists, work from a worldview. They see life from a certain way and so help their clientele from a certain way of looking at life. Now to be clear, there are thousands upon thousands of mental health professionals in the world. Not all are bad, not all are good. Some are helpful, some less helpful. But nevertheless, they all provide help from their certain set of beliefs about life.

Beliefs have consequences, though. If a counselor believes marriage is a simple legal contract a married couple can break, then one would expect the counselor to suggest divorce when times get hard. But if a counselor believes marriage is a sacred covenant before God, then one would expect the counselor to help guide the couple through their deep problems to regain unity. If, for instance, I believe marriage is a sacred covenant before God, then going to the latter counselor with the same beliefs to help my marriage only makes sense.

What then does the mental health professional you’re seeing believe? Do they believe whether there is a God or not? Do they believe whether humans were created or if we as humans are simply natural beings evolved over time? Do they believe we have a soul? Do they believe there is ultimate truth? Do they believe we can know what is right and what is wrong? Where do they believe we go when we die? Do they believe whether there is ultimate meaning in life?

Is Your Counselor Your Deepest Problem?
As you can see, belief systems are important. How someone believes is how they will help you. But setting aside all the counseling jargon, most mental health professionals help by helping people both by changing their thinking about how they are seeing their life situation and by changing certain life behaviors. A simplistic example might be a counselor helping an alcoholic rethink how much more healthy family relationships are rather than a buzz. So too, the counselor might also instruct the alcoholic to immediately leave a certain situation which triggers the temptation to drink. And certainly, many alcoholics have recovered by simply changing their thinking and behavior. But was their ultimate problem resolved?

Many combat veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, blast-induced brain injury, paralysis, mobility issues, neurological challenges, chemical exposure, MST, or moral injury, have experienced great success with mental health therapists who helped then rethink life and change certain life habits. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe generally speaking your life is back on track, you have learned to cope well, to handle life challenges. Or maybe you are one who’s having setbacks or maybe you haven’t reached out for help at all. Maybe you’re in a state of hopelessness.

Either way, could there be something more than changing the way you think about life and changing certain life habits to deal with the traumas you faced from combat? Could there be a more ultimate problem you need resolved? Could there be a greater cure? As biblical counselors, we say yes. We certainly believe thought patterns and life behaviors are an element in the healing process, but even more we believe we ultimately need a relationship with Jesus Christ to truly transform our souls and heal our wounds from combat.

You Weren’t Created to Face the Horrors of Combat (1)
God never intended for our souls to experience the horrors of combat. He created us only to see and experience a world in perfect order. This is what we read when God initially created us:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:26-31).

The way God initially created the world was good! God created man with a soul intended to live in a perfect peaceful world, not a world riddled with death and destruction. In fact, Adam and Eve didn’t even have a concept of death. It wasn’t until they sinned that they saw death when God personally slaughtered an animal and clothed them with its skin (Genesis 3:21). What a shock it must have been for them to see killing and blood for the first time. They knew something went terribly wrong? They longed for the way things were.

Don’t you long for the way things were, too? Don’t you long for a world where everyone can get along, where there is no death, destruction, and combat? Why is that? Why do we long for a world without death? It’s because a remnant of the way life is supposed to be is still embedded in our soul.

By creating us in His image, God has written on our hearts what life is supposed to be like with the ability to know right from wrong (Rom 2:14-15). So, we long for a better world. And it’s no coincidence that one of the last chapters in the Bible gives us a glimpse of the world we long for:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4)

Doesn’t it sound wonderful? Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain. I want that. Don’t you?

Your soul has been shattered by war. And now your soul longs for life the way God intended it to be (and the way it eventually will be!). But, for now, your soul is experiencing the same effect as a wine glass being used to hammer a nail. The glass undoubtedly shatters because it’s not designed to take such force.

Our soul is the same way. It wasn’t designed to take such force, to experience such horrors. So, the shock, frustration, sadness, depression, and anger you are experiencing is normal. You are simply experiencing what it means to be a spiritual being living in a broken world. But there is more.

You Were Created to Be in a Face-to-Face Relationship with God
Your soul was created to live in fellowship with God. Adam and Eve regularly saw and walked with God in the garden. They enjoyed his presence and were unashamed to be with Him. Yet after they disobeyed God, they knew they could no longer face Him, so they hid (Genesis 3:8).

Adam and Eve hid from the very one who created them, the one who provided for them, the one who cared for them, the one who protected them, and the one who most delighted in being with them. Why? Because they rebelled. They thought they could live on their own; they thought they could live by their own rules; and they thought they knew how to handle life’s challenges without the help of God. They were wrong, and God turned his face away from them.

Unfortunately, you and I do the same thing. Like Adam and Eve, we think we can handle life on our own, live by our own rules, and handle life’s challenges apart from God. But the truth we must grasp is that our plan will never work.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 16:25)

We were created to be in a face-to-face relationship with God, but our rebellion has led us to death. And now, not only is it impossible to truly handle life apart from God, but it is impossible to heal from the trauma of combat without Him, too.

In order to truly begin the healing process, we must realize our fundamental need is to ensure our relationship with God is restored. As Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus is our ultimate hope. Not only is He our hope to bring us back to God, but He is also our hope to heal from our time in combat.

Give Us a Try
You have a lot of options out there for help. But is there a possibility that you want to hear what might sound like the harder but more hope-filled road to take?

If so, give us try. Give us a chance to explain to you a broad and robust biblical view of the challenges you are facing as a combat veteran. Let us explain for you the gospel of Christ. Let us explain our ultimate need. Let us explain that healing from combat is hard, but that the Lord is good. Let us explain how the Lord is committed to you for the long haul, that He is in control. Let us explain what it means to turn your rage and depression into a love towards others with the same type of love with which the Lord loves us.

Sometimes we know the easy way to handle our situations. But we want you to face what might feel like a harder way, but a hope-filled way, of casting yourself on Christ and beginning your healing process with the hope of the gospel.

Our hope and prayer are that you might reach out to us at the Fallen Soldiers March Biblical Counseling Network. We’re here and we are eagerly waiting.

Author DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article represent that of the author and FSM alone, and do not necessarily represent the views expressed by the Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy.

FSM DISCLAIMER: The above represent the views of the particular author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of this organization or any of its members.

by Barrett Craig, U.S. Navy Chaplain, ACBC Certified Biblical Counselor

(1)  –  The following two sections are excerpts taken from Barrett Craig, Help! I’ve Been Traumatized by Combat (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2015) 18-22.

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019 at 1:43 pm and is filed under Featured, Newsletter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.



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