I got to thinking about this particular post a couple of days ago. It’s kind of a tough one to write because it involves some self-reflection, being vulnerable, and putting it all out there. It’s a post that I both really want to dive headfirst into, but also want to run as fast as I can away from.
When I was in the military, it was easy to know my place. There was no second guessing what I needed to do day in and day out. My identity was defined by my uniform, my career field (Air Force Specialty Code or AFSC), and my rank. Direction was given from a Commanding Officer or Squadron/Unit Commander, filtered down through Section Commanders, to Section Superintendents, then to Supervisors, and lastly to everyone else. It was easy – go to work and do as your told. This was my way of life for sixteen years. When the Air Force told me to move, I moved.
When I transitioned out of the military, it was a very quick transition. Now typically when you’re nearing the end of your career and approaching your twenty year mark and eligibility for retirement, you begin the process of deciding what you want to be when you grow up. You begin putting together a resume and sending it out. You talk with your family and decide where it is you want to move to and establish roots. My transition went quite differently.
Just shy of seventeen years, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was quite a lengthy process for the doctors to come up with that final diagnosis, and it happened in the Fall of 2016, following a year and a half of blood tests and MRI’s. In November 2016 I received the email I had been anticipating (somewhat): my retirement orders. I remember that day well.
Less than a month later I was wearing my uniform for the last time at my retirement ceremony.
But now I reach the point of why I wanted to write this. And I truly hope this post will help someone else out.
Following my abrupt end to my military career, I struggled a bit. Okay, I struggled a lot. I was used to being told what to do and when to do it. That was my way of life for sixteen years and I had grown accustomed to it. I had plans to continue on with law enforcement after my military career was over. I was on track to join the FBI or Secret Service.
Was I mad? Did I get upset with God? Did I feel as though my present and future had been stolen from me? Yes to all of the above! There were many times within the first year following my medical retirement, that I was mad at God. That I questioned His lead in my life. How would I provide for my family? What does one do when the rug is pulled out from under them, and all hope seems lost? Facing an uncertain future was terrifying!
Five years has passed since I first entered the civilian world as a scared and broken thirty-seven year old. If I could go back to those days, I would put my arm around that shattered man and tell him everything was going to work out. That God has got this whole thing under control.
Much has transpired in my life since those first days following my MS diagnosis. Has it been easy? Has life been filled with rainbows and gumdrops? Heck no! There were struggles then and there’s struggles now. But there would have been struggles even if my life has gone as planned. That’s life. The struggles would have still been there, but in a different form.
Throughout the past five years, God has shown me what really trusting Him looks like. He brought the wind and waves that totally rocked the boat, only to prove to me that He is the One who controls the storm. I went from being financially destitute to being a little comfortable. I went from having no mission in life and a complete lack of vision, to seeing things more clearly than I ever have before. I watched some doors slam shut, only to have some swing wide open. I discovered things about myself that I had never known existed and lied deep down inside. I saw the hand of God move in remarkable ways in my life, and I did nothing to deserve any of it. That’s grace.
What can I tell you? After all this, what piece of advice can I give you? Don’t give up. Be mad at the world, take your turn questioning and being upset with God (if you think questioning and being mad at God is a sin, read the book of Job), but lean on Him. Pray harder than you ever have, seek wise counsel, and don’t let your present situation take you down a path that will be so difficult to climb back up. Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle. You’ll look back on it one day and realize it was one the greatest moments of your life.
First off, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions below. If this has helped you in some way, I would love to hear from you.