(Part 1) The Line in the Sand - Chapter 3. - Return Fire
Here it comes. The whining whistle of the incoming mortar sings its refrain. It will land. It will explode. It will do damage. You have heard the sound of incoming before. You know it all too well. You can hear and see it coming. The tone of voice. The angry scowl. The condescending look. The raised fist.
Your instinctive ability to sense the incoming hurt causes an automatic reflex reaction, designed to protect, or to save your heart. You brace for impact. You cover your head. You duck and hide. You shut down emotionally. You prepare by getting numb with drugs or alcohol. You condition your heart with a callous covering that takes on any of a number of forms. Then when you see an opening you return fire.
Enemy or friend, you pop up for long enough to squeeze off a few carefully placed rounds. Target: their heart. Intention: to hurt, or even to kill. No, the desire is not to remove life from the person, just to remove you from the battle. The desire is to keep them far enough away so you won't get hurt... again. Very often the bullets are flying all around the kitchen, living room, dining room, bathroom, and even the bedroom. The car. The store. The party. The battlefield is everywhere.
Most of the time, these bullets are intended to be in defense only, and yet as they leave they transform into incoming for the other person. They hear the whining whistle of the incoming and brace for impact. They know the sound, too. If you're paying attention, you can actually see them take cover, shut down emotionally, hide in addiction, or even run away from the battlefield of bitterness and resentment.
Why is it that the people who are the closest to me say and do the things that hurt the most? When I return fire, what is the cost of the damage? Am I training or conditioning my loved ones to hide from me? Are they preparing for battle with me by numbing down with drugs and alcohol? Am I shooting first to minimize my own internal damage and then asking questions later? Have I managed to achieve a 1/1 incoming volley to return fire ratio? Have I managed to protect myself by conveniently keeping my close, loving relationships at an armís length? Have I managed to make a complete mess of things?
Here it comes again. Incoming! The choice is yours. Hide. Run. Numb. Ignore. Leave. Return fire. Raise the shield of God.
When provoked by the Philistines, what was Samsonís response? (Judges 15:15) ďHe found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put forth his hand, and took it, and struck a thousand men therewith.Ē I donít know about you, but I do not desire to take this kind of revenge on anyone. Taking this type of revenge on those closest to me would be reprehensible, absolutely unacceptable. So why then, do I continue to return fire, or even shoot first?
There is never a clean shot. All wounds leave a fragment of the hurt, something like shrapnel in the heart. There is a limit to the number of hits any human heart can take before desiring to run, hide, numb, ignore, or even die. So why do we continue?
As I sit here in my foxhole, thinking about the battle, the war, I wonder. I have so many questions when I get quiet and think deeply about the relationships I have chosen, and the ones I have been gifted with.
Letís look at the line in the sand from our side for a while. In any single relationship between two people, there are two sides to the line in the sand. Looking from the first-person view, there are MY side and YOUR side. The others out there on the other side of the line are doing what they do. I have no control over their thoughts, choices or actions. They will do whatever they choose to do.
Repeat after me. I, being on my side of the line, then, have control over only one thing: ME.
My thoughts are what I think. I will process any incoming in any way I choose. The key here is that I have a choice. I get to choose what to do with anything that comes my way from any source. I choose my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I do sometimes find myself wishing I had made a different or better choice, however. Which means that there is so much to consider when making the choice of how to respond in any given circumstance. Usually my remorse will happen within a few seconds.
In the next few chapters we will examine some of the factors affecting the choices we get to make, so let's take some time to reflect about our choices to return fire.