When I joined the Army I was 17 and knew I wanted to be a soldier more than anything. I was looking for the Challenge that I had seen immortalized on Screen and Books. I knew nothing of true brotherhood, comrades or anything about being a man. I was a boy seeking to find myself by meeting someone else’s, standards. As I succeeded and met the standards I sought higher standards. I knew no other way except to challenge myself as I moved along this path I was on. I became addicted to the adrenaline that was produced by doing the dangerous and succeeding. This became my way of feeding my inner self and how I based my value system.
I was a Christian, spelled with the lower case on purpose. I went to church when I would I read the Bible sometimes but never really studied it (unless there was an alternate purpose for my being in a study group). I was self-absorbed self- centered and based most of my values on what was in it for me. So pretty much I was a fairly normal young man. I had a good upbringing as a youngster which I thank God for today. Yes I had a father that was an Alcoholic when I was young but that is not an excuse for who I am or was. It is just a fact of how my life was when I was a child. I did not have an exclusive hold on a bad experience in life allowing me to be something I should not have been. I say that because I did believe for a longtime that in fact my “Story” was unique and did allow me to be special with special circumstances I could justify bad behavior.
I myself delved into alcohol and thanks to that same man I just mentioned who was an alcoholic while I was growing up (he had sobered up by the time I was 13) I found my way to AA and was able to find a way to stop myself from a long life of abuse of drugs and alcohol. I stopped drinking at 16 which probably also kept me from being killed in many other situations. Tell me that God doesn't look out for fools cause I won on all counts there.
On a side note, I will tell anyone today that life is not a test, there is no bad thrown in to lives to see how we will act, react or get through some things. Life is Life. God knows us before we know us and he has his plan for us before we ever take our first breath. What happens while we have free will and we learn to become his children is part of growing up and testing our boundaries. Much like when we raise our children they test their boundaries and we as parents have to allow them to work things out so that they can come to us willingly in love for help. I always heard and said there was no book on how to parent from my parents and then from my own mouth. Well today I beg to differ I just didn’t have the understanding to grasp the Bible and what is was really saying. It was not my time. I have said many times TIME means Till It Means Enough and it took my life going down the road I traveled to get me where I am.
Back to the Timeline-Army life. As I grew in the Army and was sent to do things for the U.S.A. I questioned the morality but the adrenaline junky and success junky in me pushed everything down deep so that I continued to do more and more. Being a soldier was who I was. I was good at it, I got the accolades I never got when I was younger and I loved it. I did try to be “Normal” when in country I even got married, had children and continued to go to church as I could. I guess autopilot would be a good way to explain my way of living. I was very set in my ways, I did not like to change my normal routines that was for sure. I was angry, selfish and discontent even with all the loving support that I had around me. I stuffed all the feelings that I had and put on a mask of what I thought I should look like.
Needless to say, God has his plan and when his plan is not our
plan things will always change on our end. In 1996 my world came crashing down. In my sarcastic way I guess I should say something like my heart was no longer up to the game. Yep I had to go in for a major open heart surgery which curtailed my ability to be the soldier I was. I was medically retired from the Army, Angry and lost. My family took the brunt of my anger and denial. Overtime this lead to a shutdown of communications and a breakup of the marriage. In time the kids have forgiven me the Ex will probably never but there is nothing I can do about that other than prayer for God’s will to be done and a good life for all that I may have hurt in my living. I am in no way saying that I was a terrible person or a unforgivable sole. On the contrary I know that Jesus died to forgive all my sins and for that I am eternally grateful.
But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I have been knocked down a number of times during my life; the end of my Army career was really just the beginning. The huge test was after 9/11 when my brain decided to go on strike and start reacting to an injury that occurred years before. Unfortunately when dealing with doctors the treatment path can be a long road especially when your symptoms don’t jump out and scream here I am. When I started to have seizures the doctors classified them as cardiac syncope because well it made sense at the time. I had been retired from the military with a cardiac related issue and had never displayed any other issues that would point in another direction. The seizures all presented as heart issues, I.E… all sorts of types of Cardiac Arrhythmia’s. So many actually that I had 6 more heart surgeries where the doctors did Ablations to stem the ability of the heart to go into these Arrhythmia’s. All four chambers of the heart have been worked on prior to God coming into my life as if Dyslexic namesake, Dog. My first service dog was actually the first to pick up on the root cause and stem through a simple licking of my face, the actual event from going into full stage event. Once that happened I was able to finally push the button on the recording device installed in my chest and get readings that the doctors were able to work with. Prior to that I would go out before I knew what was happening. Iris would pull me back to reality so to speak and my life changed.
I had gotten to the point where I was playing with suicide as my ticket out. I no longer wanted to play this game. The rules had changed to the point that I could not even see a trains light at the end of a tunnel I saw only darkness. My family my friends no human power could relieve me of the bondage of self at that point. Only God through his minion (Iris) was able to show me enough light to keep me hanging on. In no time flat my life turned around. The doctors were able to change meds to address the brain issues not the heart issues. I saw my license come back and the freedoms I had lost come back being allowed to go out and be with others on my terms because I had a Service Dog. (What I knew beyond a shadow of a DOUBT was God attempting to remain anonymous.) I could not hide any longer inside my own walls that I had built up; I had to share my transformation with others.
This was not the end of my story in a long run. I am still a human being with all the faults of said human race inside fighting. I had a renewed license on life but I was not well yet. As I have pointed out I am hard headed and had to take back the reins of life often just to make sure that I remember who is really in charge. I had this renewed belief and understanding in God but I still had to prove to myself I could do things. See that is my biggest downfall in life is it has taken me 55 years to realize that the difference between God and me is he never pretends to be me! For some reason I try to jump back into that role of Kent knows best. “Oh my Me”, life is so much better when I get out of my own way. When I was gifted the presence of Iris then Mike I was gifted a tool to help me help others. My biggest issue is two fold. One I knew I was not the message just the messenger but I was human and let myself get into the message. What I got often while doing that was a Mess! The saying of there is no I in team comes to mind and boy did I miss that. My EGO ran wild more often than not. I had to battle with depression often while attempting to look good on the outside. I was missing the key ingredient but I did not know it till recently.
In the past 2 years I have changed so much. Early on in todays writing I said I had not ever really studied the Bible. I was exposed to it yes but studied the word and lived inside the realm of what it says, no way. That was something that was way outside of human capability and definitely not something I thought I could ever even attempt to do. Yes I tried to live by the basic tenets of what I knew to be true but I never used it as a measuring stick for my life. Remember, I always lived to a standard, I could not really understand how I could set myself up for such a failure as to live by the standard set forth in the Bible. My God the last person to live to the standard I saw in the Bible was crucified on a cross! How could I, someone who did the things I did in the Military, the things I did as a Child and since I am still here today still a Human living in this human condition live up to the standards I saw in the Bible.
Yep, I was pretty hard on myself. Still am actually as I sit here typing with sweat rolling out my eyes thinking about how much I have had to go through to come to understand where I am sitting today. I am in a Reboot class now and learning so much about me it is awe-inspiring. Not because I am any more special than anyone else but I am special to God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am learning about how to forgive myself for the things I thought were unforgivable. Here’s a line from one of our leaders last night.
Forgiveness is vitally important to God.
Hebrews 12:15 tells us “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled”. Bitter people only hurt themselves. Unforgiven people are unforgiving; and hurt people hurt people.
I did not see myself as bitter but today I understand so much more about who I am in the scheme of things. I am a Child of God just like my children are each children of God, not grandchildren but his direct children. I am but a servant that is here to do his work until my time comes to go on to my room in heaven. Wow how great is that? I have been forgiven; the only things I have to do is forgive myself and do his work for him. That brings me to that time during my travels when that pastor called me a Missionary and I fought it with everything inside because I didn’t want the job. I have always felt the tug of Jesus inside and always blocked it and denied it was there. Today I accept the salvation that God gave us through Christ. The forgiveness of all forgiveness
That first Gift is Salvation! After Salvation on the cross so many other gifts are available to us all. The gifts of the spirits are Diverse. Our gifts are like our brotherhood of being a Veteran. The common good of His Glory unites us all. The Bond we share as Veterans having served as warriors to protect others places us in situations that test our being. Test our sole. Once we realize that those same tests of being a soldier actually bond us together and show us how God has hardened us to become his messengers can give us true strength to help others. I have been talking about helping others in my blog for a long time but I finally have an understanding that supersedes all others as to why I need to do service for others. I hope that this particular blog may help someone else struggling with their own issues, get past them and see that there is a power so much greater than ourselves. All we have to do is accept him into our lives.
Well, I hope that today's blog was as special for you all as it was for me to write. I sweat a few drops while writing today and that is a good thing for me. Sharing from the heart to a public forum is always a scary venture but if this has the ability to touch someone in a way to help them jump over the walls that lock us into our own worlds then I am grateful I felt the tug to write. Thank you all for the support and prayers I have gotten even when I did not feel I deserved them. There is so much more to this story, stay tuned I have a feeling it won't take another lifetime to get out now that the dams are breaking.