In the beginning of my marriage to my wife Geneice my anger and rage was the weapon I used to deal with anything that was threatening or uncomfortable in my life. This was the biggest part of my foundation that God needed to rebuild. But my anger and rage was very familiar and comfortable to me, and it wasn’t easy to let go of something so familiar and comfortable. But it had to go, because it was destroying my marriage and my two young children.
In the “rebuilding process,” God took me back to a time in my youth when I was eight years old and my mother was being taken from the house in a straitjacket because she was having a nervous breakdown. My father always told us kids that if we would just behave better and not put our mom under stress, she wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown. Unknowing at the time, as an eight-year-old boy, I took on the responsibility of my mother’s nervous breakdown. This was revealed to me many years later as an adult when in my journal reflecting on that night I wrote, “I’m sorry mommy, next time I’ll do better.” The result of that was for me to try to remove my guilt by “doing better” by keeping my family and household in order. The only effective tool at hand was the same one that my father used to keep order, and that was anger. But this approach was destroying – not building – my family. I had to be set free.
But my uncontrollable anger was not just coming from the trauma I experienced as a young boy, it was also coming from my military experience. At that time in my life I desperately needed to “prove myself” as a man and I staked it all on the achievements I would make in the military. Even though I performed well as a soldier, in combat the way my platoon sergeant had treated me (with such disrespect) is what stuck with me. Remember how I said the bad things in life seemed to have more impact and influences on us than the good things? I know because I’ve experienced it myself. And those bad experiences in my life continued to add to a faulty foundation. I was in a battle and I needed desperately for God to come to my assistance. I was losing ground to the enemy.
I began to fight back with God on my side. He was faithful to begin healing my broken heart by revealing truth in my life. I vividly remember one day when I was dressing for work and heard some loud conflict between my two children downstairs in our home in. Immediately this triggered my anger. I had a debt to pay and anger was my tool! But that’s not what I wanted! So I stopped, and asked God to help me not be controlled by my anger and He clearly spoke to me in that moment and said, “Speak truth to yourself.” For a moment this confused me because I didn’t know what “truth” to speak to myself. I even asked God “What truth?” And then it came to me. And I spoke out loud, “It wasn’t my fault that my mother had a nervous breakdown.” At that instant my anger left me and I felt completely at peace. God had started me on a path of speaking truth to myself that ultimately overcome the faulty foundation under me and the resulting anger and rage that controlled me. This was the beginning, and in the years to follow I would need a battle plan and strategy to gain position over the enemy of my soul.
In presenting the lesson on “Our Common Enemy” at the Fight Club for Men at Sky Rose Ranch, I came to understand more clearly the reality of the battle that I faced after returning home from Vietnam when my “It don’t mean nothing” attitude only blinded my eyes to the fact that there was a Common Enemy out there trying to destroy me. In many ways I thought I was engaging the battle in an effective way, only to discover then I really lacked a plan and the proper “moves” or tactics to counter what the enemy was throwing at me. Unlike my military training, where I received the best education on military tactics, I was lacking in spiritual tactics to engage the spiritual forces that were working against me.
In my preparation as an instructor I was impressed by how simple and practical were the “Eight Moves to Gain Position Over Our Common Enemy.” In many ways as a longtime Christian, I had been practicing some of these moves but others I was ignoring. As my life ebbed and flowed through different seasons I found that the enemy changed his tactics and any time I failed to change my tactics to counter his new means of attack, I would lose ground. But if I employed all of the eight moves I would gain position over my enemy. I especially found Position 1; “Submit and Resist” very effective in defending against the enemy’s attacks. In my marriage relationship Position 4 “Pursue Financial Freedom” was very important in gaining my wife’s trust in me as a provider. I found that implementing the appropriate “move” for the unique challenge in my life was essential and being a godly husband and father.
Being an instructor at the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program has made a significant impact in my life as I have continued to allow God to rebuild the foundation beneath me so that I can be the godly man I have been called to be. Participating in the Fight Club program has given me cause to reflect in detail on who I am as a man, and provided more peace and stability in my life. I will continue to fight, with God’s help, for what is valuable in my life for the rest of my life.