Just Get Through the Day: A Lesson for Moms from Hell Week

Note: All the following information about Hell Week was taken from Marcus Luttrell’s book Lone Survivor.

Hell Week is the beginning of Navy SEAL training. Many consider it the hardest week of military training in the world. It begins sometime on Sunday afternoon/evening and runs until the following Friday at 5:00. It involves days of going without sleep or with very short sleep, as in less than an hour. They throw you in the water and keep you there until you are minutes away from hypothermia. You run one mile to breakfast and one mile back to where you exercise. You do the same thing at lunch and at dinner. That is in excess of all the regular running you do.  You do push ups and more push ups and more push ups. You run into the Pacific Ocean then come out and roll in the sand. You are pushed until your body burns and then they demand more. The Navy wants to see if you would rather die than quit. If the answer is yes, then you can stay. If no, there is a bell you can ring. When you ring the bell they will give you good food, a hot shower, and ticket out of hell.

At first glance, this may seem like the last place to get tips on how to be a good mother. You have a bunch of cussing, physically strong, tough warriors who are training to go into dark, dangerous places and either rescue or kill people. What does SEAL training have to do with mothering?

The answer is simple: pressure. Mothering a bunch of little children is a pressure packed life. It may not be drill instructors, but there is usually a lot of screaming and crying. There are days of pure exhaustion. You probably walk miles a day following the little ones around. You may feel like you only get short periods of rest. There are moments where you want to ring the bell and just get a hot shower.

So how do the SEALs get through?  Marcus Luttrell’s commander gave him some great advice before he went to Hell Week.

First, of all I don’t want you to give in to the pressure of the  moment. Whenever you are hurting bad, just hang in there. Finish the day…Second, take it one day at a time…Don’t let your thoughts run away with you, don’t start planning to bail because you’re worried about the future and how much you can take. Don’t look ahead to the pain. Just get through the day.(Emphasis mine)

Luttrell said very few men dropped out because they were physically unfit. It was the mental side of things that destroyed them. On Monday morning they were thinking, “How can I take another five days of this?” They stopped thinking about what was right in front of them and worried about what was coming. The key to survival was to not think about the coming days. Just focus on what is in front of you. Just get through the next set of push ups, the next run, the next swim.

The good news is that the Lord does give mothers breaks and moments of joy. It is not hell raising children. It is a glorious job, filled with wonders and delights. But there are times when the pressure builds where you feel ready to explode and you wish there was a bell to ring. When that moment comes don’t think to yourself, “How can I handle six more hours of this?” Or “How can I get through the week with the kids vomiting all over the place?”  Or “Can I endure six more months of pregnancy?” Instead just focus on what is in front of you. Just get through the next diaper, the next fussy kid, the next meal, the next tantrum, the next labor contraction, the next exhortation to do chores, etc.  In doing so you will be obeying the many commands in Scripture to not worry (Matthew 6:25-33, Philippians 4:6). And you will be earning a reward far greater than the “Congratulations” the SEALs get at the end of Hell Week. You will earn the right to hear those wonderful words, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Repost from February 2014

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