A man clothed in leather and metal armor wielded an expertly made, shining, double-edged sword against an enemy throng. His father, the aging, but wise King, fought beside him in the midst of their skilled army. The son was their general, their acknowledged champion by both birth and ability. Though youthful, he had years of swordsmanship tactical training. He was ready.
They were winning against the enemy combatants, who had raided the kingdom’s land for the last time. Both the battle and the war had begun with the good kingdom winning steadily against the marauders. Father and son fought bravely, side by side. Great soldiers fought with them and for them.
A break in the ranks revealed the bare-chested enemy warlord. He was dressed only in leather armor and carried an inferior weapon, a single-edged sword that strongly resembled a machete. More of a tool than a weapon, the heavy blade was damaged from hacking at small trees and underbrush. In contrast, the young general’s sword could be blinding when sunlight hit it. When not in use, it was carefully stored in a custom scabbard, but only after the general personally cleaned it and sharpened each edge back to perfection. As a result, his sword still appeared new even after a decade of use.
Suddenly, the enemy warlord startled everyone with a loud, raucous yell, and he charged through startled ranks of soldiers. About fifteen feet in front of the general, the warlord threw down his sword, hit his chest with his fists, and wordlessly challenged the general to a fight which would determine the outcome of the war.
The general responded immediately and threw down his beautiful sword into the dirt next to its second-rate match. Hand to hand combat ensued between the general and the warlord. It ended fairly quickly because the general did not realize his opponent’s physical strength or his propensity to cheat. Hidden knives laced with poison found gaps in the general’s armor and even though he was only nicked, the general fell to the ground in a blurry haze of semi-consciousness.
The shocked army was dismayed at the sight and all were thrown into the dungeon of the very castle they once protected. The general came to his senses after some time, exhausted by a poison that made him look weak and unworthy of his title. The general and his father were imprisoned apart from their troops, but together in the same dank cell. For a time, their devotion to one another was enough to make the prison bearable. The King tended gently to his son.
As the general’s cuts healed and the poison left his system, he became discouraged. He bemoaned his fate: the pain, the unfairness, the treachery, the loss. One day, the general had reached his breaking point. He described his agony of losing the battle with the warlord in excruciating and accurate detail while his father intently listened. The general relived every single move and countermove, recounting each second as if it had lasted hours. When the general finally ran out of words, a silence mixed with a burdensome sorrow invaded the air like the thick smell of incense. Time increased the weight of the emptiness, until like a cloud about to give rain, the King asked the poignant question that had been aching within his being. “Why did you throw down your sword?”
We all have strengths that sustain and keep us, our shining swords. Our abilities and talents create strength in our lives and bring us integrity, authenticity, and happiness. Unfortunately, there are emotional marauders whose strengths seem to emanate from destruction. Unable to see or value their own core potential, tearing down the beauty in others seems to be their aberrant purpose. Absent a development of their own capabilities, they focus on demolition. Destruction is infinitely easier than creation.
These marauders of our souls, fueled by ego while gnawingly aware of their shortcomings, instinctively know they cannot overcome us without our consent. It is imperative for them to convince us to throw down our swords, to remove that which empowers us. Once we are disarmed, they draw close into our space to find our weaknesses with their hidden weapons poised and ready to overcome us. While our strength is evident, those who disarm us hide their deceit, poisonous words, and small, sharp verbal cuts. Lured into their unfair battle, we are unarmed, wounded, but only we are close enough to recognize how they cheat.
A challenge to put aside our inner strength is an invitation to ruin. These provocative requests may come tenderly, as in a call for compassion, or, during an adrenaline-infused dispute. Fogging clarity is a poison that can bewilder you. Cutting words that infuse doubt can land in vulnerable places within our soul.
Stand away from these taunts. Avoid being drawn into a fight that leaves you exposed. Fight on your own terms with what strengthens you. Most important, don’t throw down your sword.