Monday, November 3, 2008

Hard Stuff #3

Drill sergeants really like to scream. A lot. No, really, I mean it. Now, that may sound like a self-evident truth to you, and it did to me before Saturday. But on Saturday I found out just how true it is. They scream really loud, and do it really often. It's their thing, I guess.

I went to Montgomery Saturday with a group of local Marine Corps recruits, many of whom will soon be going to boot camp. I'll be running a series on it later this month. The recruits were getting a little sneak peak at what boot camp will be like, by coming together with recruits from other cities in the Southeast, for a day of competition. The different cities competed to see who could run the fastest, do the most pull ups and crunches, push a Humvee the fastest, and the always exciting tug of war. But I really think the main reason they were there was to learn what it's like to get yelled at by a drill sergeant. And boy, did they get yelled at. I played high school sports and I have a mom, so I've been yelled at before. But this was yelling on steroids. I've truly never seen anything like it.

The purpose of all the yelling is to break the recruits down. They're really trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. They want to know, and they want the recruits to know, if they can really do boot camp or not. They yell at them while they run them, they yell at them while they make them to do push-ups and sit-ups, they yell at them while go to the bathroom (no, not really). Sometimes it doesn't make sense; the yelling just seems kind of random and without purpose and a little bit sadistic.

But the yelling does have a purpose. It's preparation for boot camp, and it's preparation for possible combat one day. The testing of their bodies and wills will come in handy one day when these recruits are actually Marines, and take their place in what's widely considered one of the greatest fighting forces in the history of the world.

The Marines have a phrase they repeat over and over while they're going through their workouts: "Through pain comes discipline." Now on the face of that, I don't particular care for it. Sometimes, I thought, "through pain comes major injury." But they repeated that phrase so many times Saturday, something finally sunk in for me. "Through pain comes discipline." That almost sounds Biblical.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)

Frankly, "through pain comes discipline" almost seems like a paraphrase of James 1. There are times in our lives that are hard; I've talked about some of those times in my life lately. Sometimes, those difficulties seem random, without purpose, and frankly a little bit sadistic on God's part. But he always has a purpose. I can't say I always know what said purpose is, any more than those Marines Saturday completely understood what their drill sergeants' purposes were. But the longer I live, the more certain I am that there is a purpose in the pain, a reason for the difficulty.

I guess the proper Biblical re-phrasing of the Marine phrase would be "through pain comes God-dependence," or maybe "through pain comes stronger faith." Either way, the pain is there for a reason. If drill sergeants, who don't even know their recruits, can have a purpose in the pain, why wouldn't a God, who knows the number of hairs on our head, also have a purpose? I'm going to try to remember that.


Juliet said...

Since I've been to boot camp does that automatically make me more spiritually mature? :) Kidding! I'd never thought of this. It's true. Good post.

Wade Phillips said...

I don't know about that, but I do have a whole new respect for you. I bet I really will after I go to Parris Island in January.