By Jeremy Stalnecker
How do you press forward when your world seems to be falling apart?
Have you asked yourself that question recently? If not, you probably need to! I think one thing we can all agree on right now is that the world, in a lot of ways, seems to be falling apart. This all began earlier in the year, of course. When we first learned about Coronavirus and everything associated with it. For many it’s a personal economic issue. For others it’s a health issue or crisis. For some it’s both. As we have worked through that and were beginning to get to the place of figuring out how to move forward, we started dealing with social unrest after the murder of a black man by a police officer. The response to that has been first peaceful protests and then violent rioting across our country. And as we’re trying to get our hands around that, we’re still struggling with some of the economic and other health issues left over from the coronavirus.
We’re in a moment in history where, in many ways, it feels like our world is falling apart. Maybe though, those are not your biggest concern. Perhaps the falling apart of your world is relationships. It’s a marriage relationship, a relationship with a child, or a parent. It’s something else-perhaps it’s a job that you had for a long time and now you’re moving on. Maybe you’re transitioning from one stage of life to another. Whatever it is, You may be experiencing a moment in time where it feels like your world is falling apart. And the question at all moments like this is, “How do you move forward?”
That’s a great question that we will begin to answer.
I remember as an 18-year-old young man, I was new to military life. I had wanted to be a marine for really as long as I could remember. I grew up in a conservative home but not a military home so I didn’t know a lot about the military. I just knew it was something that I wanted to do and at 18 ended up at Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. I was still going through college, but I went through a commissioning program that allowed me to go through Officer Candidate School while still in school.
Officer Candidate School was the start of my journey in the Marine Corps. It can be strange at times to think of my start while also thinking about the end of my time in the Marine Corps, coming home from Iraq. I had the privilege of serving with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines as a part of the initial invasion into Iraq in 2003. Following that deployment, we came home and I transitioned out of the military.
When I started as a young man attending officer candidate school trying to learn the things I needed to learn in order to lead Marines, I had no way of knowing that it would be almost 10 years before I would finally lead Marines in combat. What an amazing transition took place from the beginning knowing nothing, I didn’t know how to tie my boots, to leading marines in active combat.
In that process, I learned that there are 4 principles every person in battle needs to know if they are going to succeed. You have no idea what’s going to happen in your life, so before you encounter the trials and the things that will keep you from moving forward, You need to have four rules to hang on to. Four things that you know, four things that you understand about combat:
The first thing you need is Preparation.
This is absolutely essential. I enjoy telling a story about Winston Churchill’s personal physician. For many years Lord Moran served as a doctor in the trenches of World War One observing how the soldiers involved in that type of fighting responded: some responded really well, and some not so well. Some responded extremely courageously and others not so much. He wrote a book later on entitled, “The Anatomy of Courage” in which he breaks down what he concluded were the elements of a courageous life. In the beginning of the book he sums it up this way:
“A man of character in peace is a man of courage in war.”
Here’s what he was saying.
He was saying that you need to be prepared before the war, before the battle, before the trial, before whatever the difficulty may be, you need to be prepared before it happens so that you’re able to deal with it when it does! A great truth. Whatever you find yourself dealing with in life right now, maybe you’re in the middle of an active battle, preparation is too late for that. Maybe you’re at a moment in life where there is relative peace. What you need to do right now is prepare. We’re going to talk about some general principles for preparation again as we go forward, but what you need before you move is preparation. Are you prepared?
The second thing you need is Perspective.
You need preparation, but you also need perspective. You need to have clarity about the situation that you find yourself in. This is where so many of us struggle. We find ourselves in a situation that is often confusing. We talk about the fog of war in combat because things are happening so fast and in so many different places. It’s really difficult to figure out exactly what’s going on. Life is the same way so before we can move forward before we can deal with the struggles and the trials and the difficulties of our life, we have to have the right perspective.
We need to be physically prepared. We need to be mentally and emotionally prepared. We need to be spiritually prepared. But beyond that, we need to take time to get clarity of the situation that we find ourselves in so that we have the right perspective.
The third principle you need is Pursuit.
Pursuit is understanding how to apply your preparation! Take what you’ve prepared to do and apply it to the situation you find yourself in. How many people who are prepared become so overwhelmed by the battle that they are no longer able to apply what they know? Maybe you’ve been in this situation. Maybe you’ve seen someone else in it. They know what’s right, they can tell other people what’s right, but when they find themselves in a difficult situation, they have no idea what to do. That’s Pursuit. We need to learn how to apply the lessons that we prepared ahead of time.
The final principle is the principle of Perseverance.
I love this one. So often the difference between winning and losing between marching or dying the difference between finding victory in your life or finding failure and defeat in your life is simply perseverance. Consistently doing the right thing without quitting. That’s it. It’s not the perfect that overcome in the battle. It is the persistent! It’s the one who continues to push forward. What do you need?
If you understand and apply these four principles, you are well on your way to finding victory in the midst of battle. We’re at a difficult moment in time. But this difficult moment in time does not need to get the victory over us or to defeat us. We can March forward. If only we will.
(Note: This post is the transcript of the March or Die Podcast episode entitled, “Ground Rules for Moving Forward.” You can listen to the podcast here.)
(For more posts like this, be sure to check out Jeremy’s blog: https://jeremystalnecker.com)