Battle Buddy

Spiritual CombatThere’s nothing more exhilarating to me than moving to an objective as my teammates and I anticipate what awaits us on the other side of the door of a SWAT operation.

As we roll up to the target location on the running boards of the Armored Personnel Carrier and peel off at our designated L.C.C (last point of cover and concealment) many thoughts rush through my head.

I analyze the backdrop for additional threats from “friendly” neighbors, read the entry point to gather any last minute intelligence that will help our team get through our first hurdle… and through all of this I have supreme confidence that my team will meet our objective.  We will win.  We don’t lose.

In the Christian life people often form teams in order to grow in their faith together and hold each other accountable so that its members don’t slip up into bad habits, which prevent each of us from living the freedom for which we were made. This is often referred to as accountability partners. This term has never sat well with me because of the team experience I’m part of in the tactical police world.

In fact, I believe the term accountability partner starts from a position of weakness and almost connotes that your buddy is going to fail. I’m certainly not saying that we should expect to never fall, because that would be the height of pride, but I’d like to propose a different way of viewing these relationships, which are based on the objective of growing in closer conformity to Christ.

As such, in order to accomplish an objective like this you don’t need an accountability partner… you need a battle buddy.

From my experience on the SWAT team I’ve been a part of hundreds of operations in which I rely on my teammates in difficult and sometimes daunting circumstances. Both of these teams, the SWAT team and the accountability team, have many similarities.

Both have the goal of overcoming an adversary and coming out of the battle unscathed with the help of our teammates. Both teams rely on its members to accomplish their goal because we realize that if done alone, the task is impossible.

I think where the two diverge is in the mindset. In the SWAT world we often refer to it as the warrior mindset, because we’re programmed to win at all costs and continue fighting until the end. When executing a mission all teammates have complete confidence in one another to meet our objective.

We know that each one of us have prepared ourselves for this moment and are dialed in due to our careful preparation. We set the tempo on missions, not the other way around, so if the team needs to quickly take a target through speed, surprise and violence then we advance on our adversary until they are overwhelmed and give up, or else they choose to be engaged with swift and precise force.

While these tactics are rehearsed and planned ad nauseam, we also plan if one of our comrades falls. If my battle buddy goes down in the course of battle I will get him out of harms way by getting him off of the X (place he was wounded) and extract him to a safe place. This is where we’re trained to stop the bleeding so we can get him to more definitive care with a physician. We don’t go into missions expecting this to happen, but we have trained enough that it’s become second nature when it does.

The spiritual life mimics these very missions and we need brothers in arms who are switched on and ready to protect one another in order to meet our objective. However, the objective in the Christian life has much higher stakes than any SWAT mission, as heaven or hell lie in the balance. Rather than an accountability partner, we need battle buddies, a fraternal group of men who help each other towards our ultimate end, sanctity. We need men trained to pick the other up if he falls, get him off of the X, stop the bleeding and get him to the The Physician, Jesus Christ.

We all know the difference that friend’s make in our lives; so about two years ago I began a fellowship group that I call Guns N Rosaries.

The mission of the group is to forge bonds between likeminded Catholic men to promote true friendships which are rooted in Christ. If you don’t have other Catholic men that you call friends, then find some, form a group, and begin training because the battle is too fierce to face alone.

With the help of a comrade, a battle buddy, we can advance towards holiness and engage in combat against the world, the flesh and the devil.