Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dear Soldier

Dear Soldier,

Today, as I sit in a warm house with children playing, conversations ending in laughter, and endless amounts of home cooked foods, I remember you.

I remember your unpretentious sacrifices and modest heroism.

I remember your warrior ethos - you will always place the mission first; you will never accept defeat; you will never quit; and you will never leave a fallen comrade.

National Guard - Dear Soldier

Photo courtesy of National Guard

I remember your job duties never end.

I remember you have bravely faced terrors no man or woman should face.

I remember you have chosen to uphold and protect my freedom and my family’s freedom.

And, I remember that today you may not be sitting with loved ones, but rather with your fellow Soldiers in a foreign land.

I do not know you by name and I do not know your story. Yet, I am grateful for you. I am grateful for the choices you have made - the decision to serve our nation – to protect our nation and her people.

I do not fail to notice these choices have cost you time with your loved ones. I do not take your selfless act of service for granted.

I am thankful for you, our American Soldier.


The Combat Zone of Bitterness

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a therapist in a community of our nation’s warriors and the home of the most deployed Division in the US Army, I have witnessed the pain and grief of death.

Death in our community does not only happen in the combat zones of foreign lands, but also in the combat zones of the broken parts of the home front.

Many of these combat zones are deceptively disguised as beautiful homes, picture perfect families, successful professionals and God-loving people. But broken people, still – just like me and dare I say, just like you…?

We all have brokenness because we have all been hurt. We have all been injured by words, damaged by injustices, and harmed by others who are struggling just as much with their own pains. And we fight back with the intention of not being hurt again.

For some people, protecting themselves by getting smaller feels safe. They may withdraw and retreat, becoming quiet or even going silent. Their defense mechanism of escape can last for years when the agony consumes their being. The longer they are silent, the more difficult it is for them to speak their truth and feel heard.

There are others who defend themselves by getting bigger. They may speak out with their voices, sometimes degrading others or crying out in the name of justice in instances where no one wins. Their pain may cause them to blindly throw poisonous darts in every direction, injuring and wounding innocent by-standers.

Anger, resentment, and hostility can become poison. There can be healing and some good that comes from those emotions, yet those emotions can be like wildfires.

Scientists have shown us that wildfires have a positive impact on the environment. Wildfires increase nutrients being released into the soil, which is followed by new plant growth. Many ecosystems require fires to restore their balance.

Yet, we also know that out-of-control wildfires can cause an enormous amount of destruction.

Out-of-control emotional wildfires are often sparked by bitterness. Psychologist Stephen A. Diamond defines bitterness as “a chronic and pervasive state of smoldering resentment…a characterological hostility toward someone, something or toward life itself, resulting from the consistent repression of anger, rage or resentment regarding how one perceives to have been treated.”

Bitterness does not have a place in the growth of our soul and spirit. Bitterness cannot heal our wounds as a community – it only makes them deeper and more destructive. Perhaps even destructing and destroying innocent people, spreading the poison of bitterness further.

So how do we end this cycle of self-destruction? What is the cure for this pain?

We cannot fight bitterness with bitterness. We need to slow down before we react. We must ask ourselves, “Is this person’s reaction in true hate or is it a reaction of their pain? If it is pain, then how old is the pain? How deeply is it embedded in their spirit?”

There is power in the pause. We gain respect with pausing, not by reacting.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend

We Are The Lucky Ones

We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us

~ George Orwell

I am a lucky one.

I am given a precious gift nearly every day. Some of these gifts are delivered with great caution and some are readily surrendered. I have protected and preserved these gifts within me for years.

I treasure their words, their silence, their fears, their regrets, their laughter, and their tears. I hold them in my heart and my soul and they have become part of me. Their pain flows through me and I want to keep their burdens and carry them – at least for a few miles of the long journey. They have lugged these ruck sacks of emotions alone, in silence and in pain. It has been long enough.

With the skill of a parachute rigger, they have packed their burdens tightly and carefully, ensuring they are revealed only when deliberately intended. If any bit of emotional fabric emerges, their safety is in question. You don’t want to jump with a pack that isn’t properly packed – talk about being vulnerable.

Some of these injuries from decades ago appear to be fully healed on the surface, yet, the toxins of war continue to infect and destroy their spirit, contaminating the relationships they have with others…isolating them even further.

And somehow, I am the lucky one. I am honored and humbled as I am entrusted to soothe and restore the soul wounds our Warriors.

Words do not seem adequate - there is not enough depth in any word or combination of words to reveal the indebtedness and gratitude I feel for our Nation’s Veterans.

Thank you, Veterans. God Bless each of you and your loved ones. I am indebted to you for the ease of my life.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend

The Fire of Loneliness

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved

~ Mother Teresa

There is an aching loneliness, nagging and mocking my spirit. The feelings of isolation are familiar, yet uncomfortably raw.

But I know this solitude is a farce.

I believe, I know, and I honor the sameness in each fellow journeyer. My heartache is the heartache in your core. My laughter is the energy of yours. My Divinity is your Divinity.

This faith in Oneness is the truth that holds me in my emotional nakedness. The times when the silent mockery is deafening…The moments of alienation when you can no longer deny the truth searing your soul…The occasions you determine the bitterness of withdrawal is triumphant to the spurious popularity of the moment.

The belief, the knowing, the hope is not always successful at warming the cold and desolate moments in a timely manner. Yet, previous experience reminds me these lonely sufferings strengthen and purify my soul.

The parts of my being that are rough, unprocessed and coarse are being met with fires that will strengthen and prepare me for the heat necessary to purify me further.

It’s just like raw iron to steel. Raw iron isn’t even iron in the beginning – it is iron oxide. The beginning of our being. Heat transforms it into pig iron, still holding impurities, causing it to be hard and brittle. Much like the life experiences - kids teasing, being frightened, and feeling scared.

When the pig iron is remelted with scrap iron thrown into the fires, cast iron is created – much stronger and more solid than pig iron. This reminds me of the strength in our souls – trusting the Divine in our Core more and more with the experiences of living.

But we know cast iron can simply be reprocessed and created into a stronger iron – wrought iron. And there is even more potential for strength, if we push the wrought iron through more fires, adding carbon, to become steel.

When we push through the periods of loneliness, fear, and pain we are forging strength. Strength which may someday be needed to encourage a fellow journeyer on a familiar path.

We are never alone. Allow the Divine in you to connect with the Divine in another.

We can no longer afford to be poor in our love for one another.

Believe. Create. LOVE.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend