REALIZING MY PURPOSE

by Simon Sage

WHY ARE WE HERE?
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE?
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THIS LIFE?

These are philosophical questions that have been asked almost since the beginning. I am betting that if you are reading this now, you already know the answers to those questions. If you do not, you are in one of the many right places to begin that journey; however, there is at least one question that many people still ask themselves no matter who they may be. “What am I created to do?” For me, my answer is clear.

“Out of every one hundred men (in battle), ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” (Heraclitus)

It is in the heart of all of us to be that “one”; I continue to try. I am a United States Navy SEAL. I was created for the defense of others. I believe I was created for war. Created for war? Yes. Some may staunchly disagree, with the thought that God creates anyone for war. I wholly understand this view but respectfully, disagree. Evil exists, and it is not intangible; therefor it is necessary for some to exist to defend and fight for those who would become victim to this evil. Just as there are those called fight spiritual war, there are also those called to physical war. “You are My war-club, My weapon of war; And with you I shatter nations, And with you I destroy kingdoms.” (Jeremiah 51:20)

I was not always aware of this purpose, but at the age of 13 I found out about the SEAL Teams. The die was cast, I was all in. I was going to be one. They were fearless warriors. They never quit…I wouldn’t either. I refused to let my environment determine what I was going to do with my life, getting there however, was a lot harder than I’d like to admit. I grew up an inner city kid in NE Minneapolis. I had a mother who always told me I could be anything I wanted and five loving brothers and sisters, but that was about it. We were very poor, surviving on welfare and receiving food from the local food shelf. More than once, I stood in line for free shoes, and was the recipient of the Christmas gifts people buy from the Jesse trees at churches. I remember being so excited about finding a pair of brand new Reebok shoes my exact size in a dumpster; they were forest green high tops, likely the reason they were there. I was held back in second grade because I couldn’t sit still enough to finish my work. I was kicked out of one school in fourth grade because I stole a book and was too embarrassed get in front of the class and apologize. That was only the beginning of my trouble in school. My grades were fine and I did what I needed to get by (don’t do that, excel at everything you can). The trouble was that I was suspended numerous times for fighting. At 12, my mother met my stepfather, a definite good thing, although I didn’t know it until I was just about out of the house and had a bit more TOE (time on earth) to understand what he had done for our family. He brought us out of the welfare system and out of the city. We were not rich, but much better off. Those are small things compared to what he gave me by just being there. He was there to guide and mentor, to teach and instruct, to discipline and above all, love. My father taught me many useful things and is very important to me, but my stepfather was a constant example of hard work, discipline, and grit. He is an “old school” guy with many hard days under his belt, and for whom I am continually grateful. When I was 19, two weeks after graduating high school, he and my mother saw me off. I attended boot camp and a technical school that was required before beginning my training to be a SEAL at BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL). BUD/S was hard…enough said.

From the time I took my oath of service 12 years ago, I have had the privilege and pleasure of serving the citizens of the United States as one of their military members. I did not always view it that way however. I have many times been asked; “Why did you become a SEAL?” I often responded with the generic answer that I wanted to make a difference, and although I really did believe that; that was not the main motive. It was really for myself and out of my own selfishness. I wanted to make myself worth more to me. Sure, I wanted to help people and to serve my country, but ultimately, I wanted to serve myself. Now, I could go to war for all the wrong reasons. I loved the rush; it was indescribable and addictive. It wasn’t until the loss of one of my brothers, one of the men that helped forge me into the SEAL I am, that I realized that this was about more than just me. That night, our platoon was tasked with finding and capturing, if we could, a terrorist cell that was shooting down American helicopters. “Yes! Another operation, who are we after this time? It doesn’t matter; let’s go kick in the door.” By the time the dust settled, all of the enemy fighters were dead. One of my brothers was dead and two of them wounded; one of them grievously, having been shot 27 times. Thankfully, by the grace of God, both of the wounded lived. This event snapped me out of the reality I had been living. I began to take great interest in what we were doing, why we were doing it and who it was that we were going after. This newfound interest in the events taking place around me led also to a deep self-evaluation as to what I was doing, and why I was doing it. One of the vehicles that helped me do this was RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults), which I was attending to find out more about the Catholic life. The main reason for this was my girlfriend and later wife, who was a practicing Catholic. She urged me to find out more about the faith. At the time, I was not anything. I believed that there was a god, and I believed that I should be a generally good person. I attended RCIA, but gave her no guarantees as I did not believe in becoming something for someone else. It had to be a decision for me or it would be a lie. I had no quick overnight conversion, it was an accumulation of the knowledge I learned and a few things that were going on around me that convinced me that this was surely the way. Saint Anthony more than a couple times saved my platoon some big headaches. If I had to choose a defining moment in my search, it would be the overwhelming feeling of something that I will call comfort, as I have no better words to describe it, but it was something more that I felt going into church one particularly tough day.

Many of us Christians believe war is not the path God would lay out, and I wholeheartedly agree…in a perfect world there is no evil, no fighting, no murder, no sin, but we live in an imperfect world and who is going to protect the defenseless? Prayer has its place, but action does also, and neither can take the place of the other. They are complimentary and there should be no action without prayer. We are all called to the defense of others, but I do not expect or want everyone to drop what they are doing and join the military. Rightfully, many have no desire to do any such thing, but I am created for war. I began my journey for myself and through my conversion, I have been able to really contemplate why I continue on this path. Would I die for my brothers, my teammates? Yes, in a second. Would I give my life for my wife and children? Without taking a breath. Am I really called to give my life for someone on the street that I don’t even know? Yes! I do this not only out of duty and love for others, but I would do anything I could to try and save someone who needed my help, even if it meant giving my own life. It is my pleasure to take this risk so that others do no not have to. “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” (George Orwell)

It is not about what I selfishly want anymore, instead, it is about every single innocent person, every single defenseless baby, and every single one of you. I have seen enemies with no regard for life kill their own family members for no other reason than it was advantageous at that moment. This tangible evil exists all around us and if I can spend my life in a cause against it, then it is a life well spent.

I have had the privilege of growing up in The United States, a country that is willing to come to the defense of many who may need her help. She is a country that will generously spend the precious resources of men, money, and time to protect and aid those in need. Just as I pledge my loyalty to my country, I pledge it to God and protecting the ones that cannot protect themselves. God is a compassionate God, but he is no less a God of Justice. That is the God I am fighting for, the God that helped David and his mighty men crush the Philistine army, the God that helped Joshua bring down the walls of Jericho, the God that will, in the end, bring an army against evil and subdue it forever. Gentlemen, for how long shall we turn the other cheek? At what point does the time for prayer alone, end? In each of your own vocations that God is calling you, let us band together and be the warriors who bring the others back.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
(Unknown)

Simon Sage- His name has been changed for protection as he still serves as an active duty U.S. Navy SEAL and out of respect for his brothers in the Teams and all U.S. Navy SEALs, who uphold their “Silent Warrior” ethos.

Photos courtesy www.sealswcc.com

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