Enemies at the gate or enemies within?

A significant thought … no, revelation…  appeared the other day.  It was then reinforced through a dialogue with my wife.

While external hurts and setbacks (enemies at the gates) are constant factors in our lives, our energies are far better spent dealing with our enemies within…. meaning our negative internal dialogues, our negative habits of thought, our unresolved hurts, our chemical imbalances, etc.

I have yet to meet the person for whom life is free of external assaults.  Some minor, some major, but they are ALWAYS happening to all of us.  So would it not be wiser then, rather than trying to battle the circumstances around us, to focus on becoming increasingly skilled at what our internal mechanisms do with the inevitable assaults?

We are currently on holiday in a beautiful place on the ocean.  I was swimming with my step kids the other day at a snorkeling reef a mile or so off the coast.  There were ocean swells that continually rolled through the 40 or so snorkelers in the water, as well as the 3 tour boats anchored there.  My step-daughter began to feel sick when she returned to the boat and it bobbed up and down with the swells.



We were powerless over the swells.  They were not big, but simply repeating and constant.  Yet none of us, not us parents, not the captain, not the tour guide, nobody on earth was capable of changing that particular outside circumstance.

What we could do though, was manage what was going on in us.  At the suggestion of the captain, we got her to sit in a place where she could see the sun, get fresh air, and watch the activities of the swimmers in the water.  In addition, he suggested she sip on a ginger ale.  Sure enough, all of these things made the situation better.

What if this were a parallel for other circumstances in life?  Can any of us stop the swells from hitting us?  Or ought we not simply become better and better at processing what happens?  Become stronger, wiser, calmer, and be able to filter out what is and isn’t important?  Avoid blame, self-pity, resentment so we do not deplete our daily energy.  We battle the enemy within, rather than the enemy at the gates.

The constant swells of life are enough on their own without us processing them into something much bigger and more painful.  And the healthier we are inside, the more we can simply take them in stride and continue with the rest of life.  Giving them no more energy than they deserve.




About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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12 Responses to Enemies at the gate or enemies within?

  1. Caddo Veil says:

    WOW, this is brilliant, Nephew–and I am so thrilled to see you–you just improved my Fab Friday!! Thank you for the very wise words, such good advice. God bless your weekend, and your family–love, Auntie Caddo

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Auntie Caddo…. nice to hear from you. Glad to add to your Friday! Been away for a few weeks and just back now to blogging. See you on the boards.

  2. Love it:) I see an extension as well. In my case, I was concerned about external factors harming my marriage so I completely missed the attack coming from within.

    • Chaz says:

      Been there. I lost a marriage that way too. Amazing how we can get fixated on the external to the complete over-shadowing of the internal. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. Denise says:

    Hi Chaz. I’ve recently subscribed to you blog. Hi ! I am also a step mom to a teenager and have my own teenager too. Not for the faint hearted ! Your post – to me, this is where AA is going to help me. Calm the insides. I had a light bulb moment a few weeks ago at a meeting, I didn’t get the unmanageable part of Step 1 before – because I hadn’t lost my job, friends or family through alcholism. But my light bulb moment, is that the unmanageability is my insides, thoughts, panic etc. The unmanageability is not necessarily on the outside, but on the inside.
    Thanks for sharing !

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Denise…. glad there was something helpful in this post. I guess a light bulb moment for one being passed to another is how fellowship works. Any felllowship…. not just AA.

      Yes, teen kids are something else! We were all there once too…. I remember vividly.

      Thanks for stopping in.



  4. Tommy Simpson says:

    Very relevant thoughts. I play tournament chess, and it mirrors what I say. You cannot change what your opponent is going to do, you can only change what you do.

    • Chaz says:

      Absolutely! Yet so much of life seems to suggest to us to control all of the external factors. Not only that, but we often then trust unreliable internal dialogues and mistake them for healthy intuitions.

      Thanks for stopping in Tommy!

  5. Debbie says:

    I really loved this, Chaz .. . just so good. I need to keep thinking about it and praying too, as it fits me so well, and those with me. Thank you and God bless you and yours! Have a beautiful vaca!

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Debbie! Its a couple weeks since I posted this and amazing how many things have come up since…. but a focus on how I process things continues to prove how much power this has versus controlling circumstances. What is it I wonder that compels us to look externally rather than internally?

      Thanks for popping in.


  6. Hi Chaz-
    What a great message, and beautifully imparted. I really enjoyed it, thanks for the post!

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