December 27, 2019

Given, not earned

Given, not earned: 55*F

Given, not earned.

10 minute Mosey
MARSOC Short Card
10 minute Mosey

3 Guys (Pizza Pies) for pre-ruck: Commie, Granola, Orange Julius
Five Guys (Burgers & Fries) for bootcamp: Commie, Flobee, Granola (QIC), Orange Julius, Woodpecker

It’s usually awkward when people find out we celebrate Christmas without Santa. It’s not like we’re some staunch, joyless religious family–it was just a decision we made early on that we haven’t had a compelling reason to change. The closest I ever got to regretting this decision happened a few Christmases ago when my children were bickering with each other. I desperately wanted to be able to play the seasonal “if you don’t behave, Santa’s going to bring you coal instead of presents” card.

However, in that moment I realized just how much the Santa narrative actually contradicts the Christmas narrative. It wasn’t our good behavior that convinced the Father to send His Son. Romans 5:8 doesn’t say “But we demonstrated our love for God in this: When we stopped sinning, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 doesn’t say “For the world so loved God that we earned His only Son.” A Christmas paraphrase of Romans 5:8 might read “While we were on the naughty list, God sent us His best gift.”

The Santa narrative is basically a religious narrative where a fat guy in a red suit spies on children: Do more good than bad and you’ll earn your presents. What’s crazy here is that by definition, gifts can’t be earned: If it is a gift, it is not earned; if it is earned, it is not a gift. A paycheck is not a gift. If our operating system is wired for earning, then there is no room for gifts. No room for grace. In reality, there are relatively few things we can earn. If there was ever an occasion to NOT earn gifts, Christmas would be that occasion.

This morning’s workout was a feeble expression of gratitude for the kind of training many of our brave men and women–mothers, fathers, siblings, friends–endure to fulfill the one-sided contract that gives us our freedoms. With about 7.3% of the U.S. population having served in the military (less than 0.5% in active service now), relatively few of us did anything to earn the freedoms we now enjoy. Even fewer of us (approximately 0%) did anything to earn the privilege to be born in America.

Far from just ranting about Santa, the point is that many of the good things we enjoy in life are received, not owed. Given, not earned.

The MARSOC Short Card has a special place in my heart, as it was the last threatened evolution before getting patched at GrowRuck05 in Chattanooga, TN. F3 Mufasa recounted it this way:

“Once formed up, again, Flash told us we were getting an hour of PT named for what was done in the submarines in WW2 – the short card. About face, and there Cadre Danny, with some more talk and lessons, and we couldn’t ground our packs fast enough, so repeated it a few times until he was satisfied. Fatigue is no reason not to move or think sharply. We were finally patched.”

I was toast. I had nothing left. But I was ready because we were doing it together. We didn’t end up doing it, so the MARSOC Short Card has loomed over my head all these years. What was it like? What would it have been like after 15 hours of rucking and PT? I needed to know.

Well, it turns out it was surprisingly difficult, and that was with us all fresh-ish. I forgot intentionally left my phone behind, so Commie could get a proper workout–adding a quarter mile (probably?) mosey while the rest of us struggled back to the flag for ENDEX.