I’ve been speaking to a friend of mine almost nightly about some deep topics–you know, letting someone into some of those secret caverns people haven’t really gone in awhile. He spent years in the military and after I’d explained some of my feelings to him about my cult experience (and yes, cried, which I haven’t actually done in awhile), he shared some of his military experiences. It was sort of comforting to know that we related so well.
He spoke to me in particular about some intense combat training he received in order to keep him and his team hyped and going, running on adreneline and getting revved up easily. He said it served a purpose in combat situations because they’d be up for days at a time, operating on little to no sleep. What happened when he left the military and resumed civilian life was that he realized he could easily get really amped up over something and it was hard to mellow himself out or not find himself reactionary.
I could certainly relate. On a much smaller, less intense scale, there are similarities to my cult experience and some aspects of military life.
For example, when we joined we went through a few intense weeks where we were emotionally stripped of certain barriers and rights, and we were checked into dorms with a strict set of rules and guidelines to live by each day. Then, each day was regimented as if we lived in barracks (they were dorms) and we had dorm leaders coming in each morning and night making sure we were in bed and out of bed on time (on the dot), dressed in something suitable (our uniforms), in prayer (on the dot), at breakfast, cleaning up (to perfection), and so forth to a specific schedule.
Our training was not combat, but it was all about hype and getting prepped emotionally for a “spiritual battle.” We were soldiers for Christ and we trained like such. When a conference would come up, we’d spend a month prior to the conference fasting and praying intensely, on top of studying, marketing, networking, planning and rehearsing our performances. Our rehearsals were labor intensive, because we were putting on an entire production–a creative representation of Christ–and those productions could last for hours, but typically the conference success or failure landed on us so we were hyper aware of every detail from the sound equipment and microphones to the lighting set up and placement. At any moment, I was on call with the speaker information, his or her whereabouts, their car and hotel information and their personal assistant on the line, if needed.
We’d stay up for days on end before the conference getting ready for “spritual battle” and by the time the actual event rolled around, we’d be operating on very little to no sleep. Coffee and energy drinks became our constant companion, and so did the smiley-happy-hyped up Christian sales persona that we were known to be. We had to pull the smiles out because we believed what we were pushing onto these teens. We believed it intently. We believed we were at war for their souls.