Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crossing the Delaware

On Christmas Day 1776, George Washington camped with his troops on the shores of the Delaware River. The war had started with great promise. The tenaciousness of Bunker Hill. A victory in Boston. The signing of the Declaration of Independence. The fledgling nation had held high hopes. Since then, the revolutionary effort had been full of defeat and despair. Driven out of New York, nearly destroyed at Fort Washington and pushed across New Jersey, the army was weary of defeat. General Washington's immediate problems were numerous. His troops had been reduced by nearly 90%. Of the 6400 men he did have left, 1/3 were too sick to participate in offensive action. His next two highest ranking Generals were ignoring his commands, attempting to make a case to take over as Commander in Chief themselves. Food, clothing and shelter were scarce and the winter was ruthlessly cold. Many of his men were from New England, and they bristled at the thought of following a Virginian they viewed as uppity. Desertions were an epidemic. Topping it off, the enlistment of the majority of his men expired on Dec. 31. Considering the rampant low morale, it seemed as if his entire army would walk out the day they had the opportunity.

In the face of these challenges, George Washington had two choices. He could sit in camp, wait for better weather and hope for the best, or he could make a bold move designed not only to put his enemy off guard, but to lift the spirits of his fledgling country. He chose the hard path. On the night of Dec. 25, he led his men across the Delaware River. A blowing ice and sleet storm stalled the other two divisions of the army, but Washington pushed his troops across the ice strewn river by the sheer force of his will. Landing on the opposite bank at 3:00 AM, knowing his plan for a three way attack had failed, his conviction never wavered. He led his men into battle and routed the army of Hessians camped nearby. This victory was followed by success in Princeton and the defeat of the British forces occupying New Jersey. The spirit of the new country was lifted, the troops morale skyrocketed and reenlistment was nearly unanimous. George Washington's courage to cross amid the ice of the Delaware River changed the face of a bleak situation, and kick started the spirit of patriotism of the country which would become the United States of America. On the night of Dec. 25, George Washington chose to do the hard thing, and it made all the difference.

What's my Delaware River?

What's yours?

What is that one hard thing that if done, will make all the difference. I know in making difficult changes, in particular overcoming addiction, there are often really difficult steps. Steps such as openly admitting and confessing our weakness, or going to an Addiction Recovery meeting, or apologizing to a person we've hurt. Often, however, these steps are the very steps which will propel us to make lasting change.

Is there something out there holding you back? Is there something that you just don't think you can do, yet you know would have a huge impact on your desired change?

Maybe it's a good time to take a lesson from our first President...and cross your Delaware.

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