• Ava Hoffman

Heart of a Werreier

In 1300, the word werreier was used, created, in Old North French. It meant “a warrior, one who wages war.” Little did they know, they had not only established a new word, but created a character, constructed an ideal, and forged an image that would shape cartoons, films, and lives century after century.

Later, this word became attributive to unidentified soldiers killed in battle and buried with honors. These were the warriors of nations. Those who selflessly showed great vigor, courage, who fought their battles with skill and determination and tenacity. These were the first. The first to display a heart of grit. Of fearlessness. Of boldness. The first to have the heart of a warrior.

Over time, many more words have come into being. Fighter, legionnaire, soldier, trooper, hero, champion. They all stem from that main word…werreier. Today, the word warrior is more generally descriptive. It means “a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.” It is less about war and more about the strife and trials of life.

As language developed, as more words stemmed from werreier, so did the opposite word, the antonym. Oddly enough, there is one opposite for warrior. Only one. Civilian. This word is related to the words commoner, subject. One who does not belong. A nonprofessional. An outsider.

As I contemplated this idea more and more, I found a sentence. It had both words – warrior and civilian – in it. I became fixated. “A program of tough training and discipline that turns untried civilians into warriors.” It reminded me of something. Of someone.

I know a warrior. He doesn’t think of himself this way. At all. In fact, if we were to ask him, he would probably say he is a civilian. An outsider. One who does not belong. Just a common dude trying to do life. But he is a warrior. A fighter. A champion.

I want to tell you the story of this warrior. You need to hear his story.

One of the most common struggles we face today is anxiety, worry. It consumes us. From the social media induced comparison to the pressure we place on ourselves to trauma-induced anxiety, most of us have experienced this state of mind on some level.

The world we live in today loves boxes, loves labels, loves excuses. Society loves to label each of us with a disorder, something to fixed or treated. A way to explain away and normalize self-absorption. For so many of us, that label has become “anxiety.” It has begun to define us. We live there. We allow ourselves to be told it is typical, medication is right; we wallow in the selfish nature permeating society.

For some, anxiety is truly clinical. Help is needed. Help should rightly be sought. Help is given. It is good. You are doing what your body, your mind needs. And hear me loud and clear - there is no shame, absolutely none, in needing help, whether it be for a season of life or for life in totality.

The large majority of us, though, are not those. The large majority of us have anxiety resulting from being so inwardly focused, so self-centered. We want to be the best. Have it all. The perfect relationship, job, grades, outfit, profile, college experience. We spend so much time asking “What will they think of me?” we forget to live. We become so consumed with ourselves, we see no one else, think of no one else. Even many of us who have anxiety due to trauma, live in this moment of “what will people think? What will I do if I see so-and-so?” There is a paralyzing fear stemming from the anxious thoughts overwhelming the mind.

This brings me to our warrior.

Like many of us, he has anxiety. Unlike many of us, it is not simply a matter of shifting his gaze off himself. Daily life can be hard. Very hard on some days. There are 100 things running through his mind every second. Focusing can feel impossible. Restlessness sometimes overtakes him. Being in groups is hard. Engaging others may or may not cause his heart to race and his thoughts to go from 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds.

The difference, though…what makes this civilian a warrior is the simple fact that he is not okay with living life like this. No, this is no ordinary man, my friends. He refuses to be defined by something that society longs to slap on us all. He refuses to live in the shadow of the anxiety. He refuses to give in. Refuses to let it take control. He steels his heart and marches into the fray, fighting to keep his thoughts in check, fighting to live the life he imagines, fighting the always-near temptation to give in, give up.

This man is a warrior.

He is determined to slay his anxiety. He seeks out situations that he knows will be a struggle. He does not turn from the hard, rather, he faces it with courage and dignity. He treats his anxiety as “a program of tough training and discipline.” And in the middle of that, he speaks of his battles with humility; he surrounds himself with community that builds him up. He leans on others, shares with others, is cared for by others. This is a vulnerable warrior. He wages war on his inner thoughts. There is no rest for this one…not until the enemy waves the white flag and flees.

This is the strong one who knows when to put the shield down and show his heart. The leader who knows when to be led. The honored one who looks to the Heavens and thanks his Father for delivering him. The fierce fighter that lays his sword at the Cross when he needs restoration and redemption.

This, my friends, is the picture of a true werreier.

In a world where our identity is often lost in that label of “anxiety,” seeing someone so fiercely and relentlessly pursue battle on the internal is an inspirational and gorgeous picture. Watching a seemingly ordinary man embody characteristics of One who is so unusual…the heart of a warrior is strong in this one. He redefines the societal image from a 6’3” hunk of muscle wearing a red cape and carrying an enchanted hammer to an unpretentious man, knelt before the God of the universe, arms raised in praise of His faithfulness. It is refreshing and uplifting to take in how he fights, how he lives.

To you who struggle – Be encouraged! You were not created with a spirit of fear. Anxiety was never meant to have a hold in or on your life. You are told to put it down. Hear that. PUT IT DOWN. Again and again and again.

You were created by One who values you above His own life. You were created to live for Him. Not for your partner, not for your family or friends or the person you want to date. Not for your sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, or the image you wish to be. You were created to live well. Live with hope. With purpose. With identity that cannot be stripped, changed, or altered by the world you reside in.

You were created with choice. Believe you have the choice. You can choose to be overwhelmed with anxiety, sucked into a never-ending vortex that will pull you deeper and deeper, destroying you slowly and unconsciously. Or you can choose to kneel when the anxiety is crippling and look up. LOOK UP.

You are beautiful. You have worth. You are chosen, friend. Believe it. You are chosen. Over and over and over. Even when you do not feel it, choose to believe it.

Fight the good fight, love. Your struggle, your anxiety, your thoughts are not your storm. You are the storm. You wield the greatest weapon in the universe, and you do not fight alone.

Fight hard. Fight well. You were created to be a werreier.

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