Know Your Enemy

Anyone heard of the Art of War?  It’s an ancient Chinese military writing that revolutionized warfare.  Sun Tzu, a military general and strategist, penned it, intending to elaborate 13 aspects of warfare.  Can you guess what one of his strategies was?

Know your enemy.

He wrote,

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

What amazing insight!  In fact, I used it tonight on Jim.  He’s not normally my enemy…but tonight he was…because we played


Jim likes to dress up when he plays Stratego.

If you don’t know Stratego, it’s a game like capture the flag.  Your army includes bombs, scouts, a general, and a sneaky spy.  I knew Jim would try to be sneaky because that’s how he usually wins all of the strategy games in our house.  So I sneaked on him with my spy, swiftly defeated his general, and within 20 minutes was humbly dancing around the kitchen with his flag. (Normally Jim owns me in this game.  He must have been distracted by his fake mustache.)

It’s amazing how helpful it is to know your enemy.

You actually know what you’re up against.  There’s not as much guess-work.  It’s empowering.  You don’t feel like you’re going in blind to a battle.  Remember in Numbers 13 when Moses sent spies to check out the Promised land?  He wanted some info about the enemy.

17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he told them, “Go through the Negev and then into the mountain region. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 Is the land they live in good or bad? Do their cities have walls around them or not? 20 Is the soil rich or poor? Does the land have trees or not? Do your best to bring back some fruit from the land.” (It was the season when grapes were beginning to ripen.)

Moses wanted to know what he was up against.  Unfortunately, in this situation, knowing more about their enemy made the Israelites fear.  They should have considered who was fighting for them!  We could stand to learn the same lesson.  But more on that later.

When we know our enemy, we are less likely to feel victimized.  Worry is enemy #1 in my life.  Last week I shared my New Year’s resolution to

develop a solid strategy to battle worry. 

The first tactic is to know your enemy.  I’ve spent most of my life worrying…and most of my life running away from my worry.  The last thing I wanted to do was know my enemy.  I wanted to wish it away, shame it away, pray it away.  But I never wanted to take a good look at my worry, until I talked with a Christian counselor.

I can still remember the leather brown couch that swallowed me up as I talked with my counselor.  It was both comfortable and awkward.  I smoothed the soft cracks as I anxiously wished my worry away.  It wasn’t working.  The tears pooled in my eyes, fighting to descend.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt shame…and worry.

“Why are you crying Brandy?”

“Because I’m embarrassed that I worry so much about food.  I’m worried you think I’m some kind of crazy person.  And now I’m not only worrying about food but I”m worrying about what you think of me!  I wish it would all just go away.”

“You can’t make your worry go away.  And the more you run from it, the bigger it gets.  You have to face your worries.  You have to dance with your worries.”

It was as if a thousand lightbulbs went on at once.

Dance with your worries. 

To dance with someone means to face them, look them in the eye, and know them well enough to move in sync with them.  Now I generally only dance the Elaine dance in the kitchen with my kids or when I beat Jim at Stratego.  I don’t dance with enemies.  But my counselor’s point hit the mark.  I need to face my worries and know them.

Know my enemy.  

So what does it look like to know your worry?  For me, I had to stop wishing it away.  And I had to stop punishing myself for worrying.  Once I did that, I could analyze several aspects of my enemy.

  • What do I worry about?
  • How long am I worrying?
  • What triggers me to worry?
  • Are there certain times I worry more than others?
  • What am I feeling when I worry?
  • What’s behind my worry?  Am I trying to control something or someone?  Am I feeling insecure?
  • How do I worry?  Am I thinking the same things over and over?  Am I imaging a scenario?
  • What thoughts lead me to worry?

The spies had lots to report to Moses because Moses asked a lot of questions about the enemies living in their Promised land.  We ought to do the same with our enemy.

Worry can distract us from our Promised Land with God.  Don’t be scared to look your worry dead in the eye and get to know your enemy.  Otherwise, how can you fight an enemy you don’t know?

List in the comments questions you’ve asked of your enemy worry.  

Happily linked with
Raising Arrows
The Time Warp Wife
Raising Homemakers
Far Above Rubies
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home


One thought on “Know Your Enemy

  1. Pingback: Know Him | Cast Your Worries

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