The fresh air of openness withers away the seeds of despair

| March 11, 2016 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Maj.) Scott F. Kennaugh
3rd Brigade Combat Team
25th Infantry Division

What’s underneath of your uniform jacket?

Yes, wearing the uniform identifies us as Soldiers. It provides camouflage in the field and gives us the uniformity that says “we belong.”

It also marks us as a unique class of leaders in our country.

All these things are what the uniform shows on the outside, but I’m asking you about what’s underneath besides a tan or brown tee shirt.

Easy question, chaplain!

But what’s underneath that?

Well, skin, and maybe ink.

And under that? Yes, it’s getting to be a personal question, because most of us want people to see us only from the outside. And most of us want to look the same as the people we hang around with, to show that we belong.

Mostly, we all look pretty good, on the outside, but don’t dodge my question!

Underneath, below the surface, beyond skin-deep, is where we really live. That’s the real you. Are you healthy and confident?

Sometimes, in some places.

Do you enjoy success and friendship?

Sometimes, maybe less often.

Is there hurt, guilt, isolation? Maybe more than we like to admit. It’s hard to show, and that’s why we keep it there, underneath. Because nobody else has that stuff underneath, not like you do, anyway … right?

And who will let that show on the outside? Look around. Almost nobody!

But honestly, everybody has some of that underneath. If I know that I do, and you know that you do, so why do we hide it from each other? Why do we pretend that there’s nothing difficult underneath?

There are many reasons, lots of excuses, but mostly, because of things like shame, mistrust and guilt. These are seeds of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness. These seeds take root and grow there, underneath.

What can we do to weed them out? What kills these seeds from the root?

I’ll tell you what: Openness. Sunlight. The fresh air of bringing them to the outside withers them away. Sometimes it shows the work to be done if the roots are deep, but you can finally get a hand with that work.

That’s the beauty of having even one good friend. If you have one person you can trust with what you have underneath, you can root that out together. And you know that they have something underneath, too, so you can bring it into the light together.

Who do you have that you trust? Who trusts you?

The challenge is isolation, but the joy is in friendship and community. As we come to know each other honestly and recognize that we all have things underneath that we are working to root out, we can give and receive trust and support, grace and forgiveness. And we build real friendships that are more than just looking good and fitting in.

It all starts by looking to see what you have underneath your jacket.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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