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November Chaplain's Reflection

Portrait of Chaplain, Capt. Benjamin McEntire, with the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Jan. 10, 2013.
(National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

Portrait of Chaplain, Capt. Benjamin McEntire, with the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Jan. 10, 2013. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- In my civilian ministry work I often find myself helping people who are seeking healing for deep life hurts and challenges. In working with them as they sort through problems that can range from addictions to the wounds of past abuse or rejection, I've found that helping people come to a place of honesty with themselves can often be one the hardest tasks. Many times people try to compensate for their brokenness by clinging to destructive thoughts and behaviors as ways to avoid the pain. Over the course of this kind of work I've found that on some level we all have a lot of trouble taking an honest look at ourselves.

For whatever reasons, most of us tend to try to avoid painful issues in our lives instead of working through them, and often blind ourselves to how many problems our avoidance creates. In such cases only an honest and open acknowledgement will start the process of healing.

In addition to the issues of our past and the secondary problems it can create, we may also have problems in how we handle ourselves in certain situations. While these can be minor quirks, sometimes they can be destructive. Often when some well-meaning person points out such deficiencies as points where we can grow, people tend to get defensive and see them as the ones with a problem. Such defensive responses have ended many relationships, including far too many marriages, all because one or both partners were unwilling to take an honest look at their own behaviors when prodded.

In both cases, whether it is problems created to cover up old wounds or behavior quirks that are upsetting some aspect of our lives, the solution starts with being honest with ourselves about what's going wrong. In the US Air Force we commit to living by the value of "Integrity First," and many have grown in their honest with others. Still, what good does it do if we're honest with everyone but ourselves? Positive personal growth hinges on recognizing our weaknesses and doing something about them, and disregarding personal problems or projecting them onto others tends to only make things worse. We deny ourselves what we truly need and desire if we try to hide our faults from ourselves. That's why we need a Wingman.

It's been said that "whoever accepts correction is on the path to life" and that "wounds from a friend can be trusted." Those who know us best and truly care about our wellbeing will sometimes point out to us where we go astray and let us know when we have a problem. When we keep reacting badly to problems in our lives, friends are the ones who will ask us honestly, "So how's that working out for you?" When they confront us, we have to be willing to listen to them with an open mind.

Consider this article an opportunity to do an honest self-check. I encourage you to seek out a friend who knows you well and who will be honest with you. Give this friend an opportunity to share with you about areas in your life where you may need to be honest with yourself, and see what they say. If taken seriously and done with good intentions, this experiment can start a journey of life-changing growth, but ask yourself-is that a risk you're willing to take? If you are, know that the SCANG Chaplain Corps will be glad to help you on your way!