What to do When Wounded in Battle
When one decides to practice unseen warfare one thing is guaranteed: you will be wounded in battle and you will fall. Temptation will come daily and from hour to hour the more our spiritual awareness increases. The enemy may succeed in landing many blows in a day, some minor and subtle and others confession worthy.
Minor wounds in battle might be considered small thoughts or feelings. This can include brief moments of judging someone else, short feelings of frustration, agitation or irritation. Also fleeting inappropriate thoughts that don’t linger. These must be constantly cut off or replaced with their opposite thought or feeling. More significant failings in battle might include a rush of anger that lingers, lustful movements of the flesh that end in disgusting and shameful ways.
Regardless, when struck down or when we fall it is very important to immediately get up, dust yourself off, repent and move on. It is easy to wallow and think this is a form of repentance. As the Russian saint encouraged:
“Do not fall into despondency on this account. By your firmness in the struggle show the tenacity of your purpose and the stability of your free will. When thrown down, get up. When duped and disarmed, rearm yourself a fresh. When defeated, again rush to the fight.”
--St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov goes on to say, that the moments when we fall prey to sin and our own weakness should be converted into opportunities. With hopefulness he states:
“It is extremely good for you to see within yourself both your own fall and the fall of the whole of mankind. It is essential for you to recognize and study this fall in your own experience, in your heart and mind. It is essential for you to see the infirmity of your knowledge and intellect, and the weakness of your will.”
--St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
This same encouragement is echoed in the Philokalia:
“Should Temptation arise, its purpose is to test you and to Spur you on; And The God Who has permitted this testing, will speedily come to your help in whatever way he sees fit .”
--St Gregory of Sinai
As outlined in book Unseen Warfare, it is very important to apply the following spiritual medicine when wounded:
- Do not lose heart and fall into senseless turmoil. The temptation after a fall is to despair and condemn yourself with false humility which can lead to hopelessness which is NOT repentance.
- Do not dwell on yourself. Ruminating on how horrible you are for falling is not productive in repentance or spiritual growth.
- Do not blame others. Do not look around seeking on whom you can place the blame. Neither the people around you nor the circumstances are guilty of your sin.
- Never doubt forgiveness. Never forget or doubt about forgiveness. Forgiveness is already fully prepared and the record of all sans has been torn up on the cross.
Always remember that you are not alone. Besides having brothers and sisters that are engaged in this same battle, also know that Christ is with you always even unto the end of the world (Matt 28:20). As the great modern mystic St. Padre Pio encouraged:
“Jesus is with you even when you don’t feel His presence. He is never so close to you as He is during your spiritual battles. He is always there, close to you, encouraging you to fight your battle courageously. He is there to ward off the enemy’s blows so that you may not be hurt.”
And as stated with confidence in the Classic book, Unseen Warfare,
"You must never be afraid, if you are troubled by a flood of thoughts, that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending, that the war will last for your lifetime, and that you cannot avoid incessant downfalls of all kinds. Know that our enemies, with all their wiles, are in the hands of our divine Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whose honor and glory you are waging war. Since He himself leads you into battle, He will certainly not suffer your enemies to use violence against you and overcome you, if you do not yourself cross over to their side with your will. He will Himself fight for you and will deliver your enemies into your hands, when He wills and as He wills."
With these precepts written in your heart we can approach the first step in Unseen Warfare, which perhaps might be the scariest step, which is self knowledge. Getting to know ones self sounds easy, but in truth it can be frightening.