What do you think is the toughest time in a day?
Some would argue that the most difficult times in a day at the office. Others would say dealing with screaming kids or fighting with your spouse or partner.
All that could be true, but I want to point out that being alone with our thoughts when we are half-awake (or half-asleep).
The time: twilight.
The place: the bedroom
This is when our subconscious bubble up and reveal to us our true self – our fears, anger, and bitterness. For those who often struggle with OCD like me, that’s when all the strange, dangerous, and maybe even unChristian thoughts flitter in my mind.
I have no problems during the day. It is only at night and twilight when I face some of my toughest hours.
AKA The Spiritual Battle of Guadalcanal
August 7, 1942 was a pivotal moment in the Pacific Theater of Operations in World War 2. It marked the first time the US Navy went on the offensive against the Japanese Empire. At a tiny island in the South Pacific, the Japanese had seized Guadalcanal and the nearly island of Tulagi. Here, the Japanese began building an airfield where they could station land-based bombers to threaten the Allied supply lines to Australia. An alert Australian “coast-watcher” sent a message which was forwarded to Pearl Harbor where it reached Admiral Chester Nimitz, CINCPAC. Long story short, the US Navy and Marines launched Operation Watchtower, the invasion of Guadalcanal.
The next day began the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal where the US Navy fought the Japanese Navy at night. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was not just one engagement but up to five, perhaps six different engagements depending on how you count them, over the course of the next few months. According to James Hornsfischer’s Neptune’s Inferno, the two sides had equal number of ships and planes. Both sides had to commit their surface combatants – big battleships, mid-sized cruisers, and small but aggressive destroyers – in a small area. It was like a “bar brawl night with the lights out”.
The US Marines seized the primary objective: the half-constructed airfield which the Americans finished it and named it Henderson Airfield, after Major Henderson who had been killed in combat during the Battle of Midway. The Marines then established a defensive perimeter around the airfield. It was a desperate fight and the Marines held on. The Japanese tried repeatedly to dislodge the Americans but their forces were not enough. To reinforce the Japanese army, the Imperial Japanese Navy sent in troopships escorted by their own surface combatants.
From August 8, 1942 until the end of the campaign in January 1943, there was a weird switch in supremacy between the two navies. During the day, American airpower from Henderson Airfield or the carriers USS Enterprise or USS Saratoga roamed the skies and attacked anything that moved. At the end of the day, the American carriers slipped away to the east to safety and to refuel. Thus, at night, the Japanese would try to sneak back in and try to drop off supplies or more men.
The Imperial Japanese Navy were masters at fighting at night. The IJN never had radar like the American Navy but for them, it was not a handicap. Instead, the Japanese trained hard. They learned how to coordinate their attacks and could fire their Long Lance torpedoes – perhaps the best torpedo ever made in World War 2 on both sides. On more than one occasion, the IJN got the jump on the Americans.
Why do I call this the Spiritual Battle of Guadalcanal?
Simple: there are times when we are fighting the same battle in our mind and heart. During day, we can gain victory over our stray thoughts and emotions, much like the US Navy had over the Japanese. During the night, our stray thoughts can have victory over us, much like the Japanese Navy had over the US Navy.
In January 1943, the Japanese had enough. Realizing the battle was lost, under the cover of night, the Japanese evacuated what was left of their army. The Japanese lost two major battleships. It had cost the US one precious carrier, several cruisers, half a dozen destroyers, and two admirals plus the famous five Sullivan brothers from Iowa (the inspiration for the movie Saving Private Ryan).
What about our thoughts? Can we have victory over our thoughts even in the twilight hours?
I believe the answer is yes, but like the Marines on Guadalcanal, it will be a long, hard road to be victory.
Face your fears
The first step for me is to search my heart deeply. What are my fears? What is the root of those fears? Insecurity? Old wounds that never completely healed? Betrayal? I know several friends who have been betrayed or bullied by close family members. In 2000, I worked with the organization called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) who help the Juvenile Court’s Abuse/Neglect Division. It is heartbreaking to hear the stories and the emotional pain being in the juvenile and foster system. It make take a licensed therapist to help you confront those fears.
A few months ago, I attended a webinar given by Nina-Nike Velander who said that you have to ask why 5 times to truly get to the bottom. Nina-Nike said that in the context of a business planning meeting and evaluating SOPs but you can extend that logic to your own thoughts and feelings. When your subconscious become conscious and it scares you, it is time to ask why it is scaring you.
However, do not go searching by yourself. You’ll get lost. Ask a trusted friend, a licensed professional, or a pastor to navigate with you. If you look at the life of Moses in Exodus, it took him 40 years of exile in a desert before he could finally discover his true self and he needed God’s help!
Guard your approaches
The US Marines on Guadalcanal knew that they had to defend the perimeter around Henderson Field at all cost. It was not just their lives on the line but also the Cactus Air Force that flew air cover and strike missions. They knew they could not be strong everywhere and they knew which direction and approaches that the Japanese would use. Therefore, the Marines placed their heaviest weapons and waited.
Unfortunately for us, our brains and hearts are much more porous. Time and time, we are told to be careful what you watch, what you listen to, and what you ponder. We are bombarded with stimuli. Even a message on a bench at a bus station can be inflammatory. Somehow those messages enter us and stay there.
From personal experience, it could mean that you would have to get rid of your social media and cancel all streaming entertainment (Netflix, Disney Plus, etc.) subscriptions. It could mean removing any news apps from your mobile devices. That way, you remove all possible avenues for things that could lead to your minds and hearts being bombarded and triggering such anxious thoughts. Ever since I got rid of Facebook in 2016, my mental and emotional health actually got better; I found I had more time and energy to pursue other things.
Ultimately, it is your choice; do you let your thoughts and feelings at the twilight hours overwhelm you and deny you of a good night’s sleep? Or do you take active steps to have peace?