This article originally appeared on Persevering Hope, an online community opening conversation about mental health and the church.
A fun game of “Around the World” basketball was recently an avenue where God chose to speak to my heart. I love when God speaks in the everyday moments, and I am learning how to look beyond the everyday moments and the everyday people I pass by to peer into the windows of their soul. Author Ken Gire, in his book Windows of the Soul explains, “There is something beyond the surface of the everyday events of our lives and something beyond the surface of the lives of the everyday people we pass by” (pg. 43). Having recently returned home from a short mission trip, I looked past the everyday people and events of Guatemala during our time there. I am learning to keep my spiritual eyes open back at home in order to look beyond the everyday of those I pass by here. There really is something beyond the everyday, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear. We all have stories and backgrounds, struggles and victories, and each is vastly different and personal.
Playing “Around the World” with my husband at our local community center where we had just finished working out, we were both struggling to make it around. Neither of us have played basketball in years, but we were having fun just shooting baskets and having a little friendly competition. I didn’t think much of it until somehow I made a connection in my brain and a thought occurred to me. I’ve been around the world, and I’ve struggled. From struggling with reverse culture shock after returning home from a mission trip, to walking through the desert of the Middle East while deployed with the military, I’ve come home changed every time. Sometimes growing for the better, and sometimes I’ve taken two steps backward as I deal with anxiety and depression.
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We served in different wars, in a different time and place. The weapons have changed, the vehicles are stronger and faster, the equipment more advanced. The faces have changed, and the mission looks different. But the service is the same, the brotherhood hasn’t changed. The reasons for joining may be different, and yet somehow the same.
I will never walk the path you walked, nor see the things your eyes have seen. It’s a different kind of battle we fight now, but our stories sound the same. It’s a story of wanting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, of finding our belonging in a family we never expected.
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“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant’.” – Matthew 25:23a
“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Anytime I hear this, whether it be a new teaching or some other aspect, I struggle. Not because I see myself as a bad person or underserving, but rather because I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I struggle to say no, and the worst feeling in the world for me is letting someone down or not being able to help. I know what the Bible tells me about identity and I know nothing in this world can separate me from His love, but I struggle with a works mentality that what I do is what earns my place. What really earns my place is not anything I do at all, but only by the love and grace of my Heavenly Father am I defined as a beloved child of God.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries for tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39, NLT
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“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Over the years of my Christian walk I have grown to have a passion for serving. At the core of my being God created me for deep relationships and helping others. I’ve always struggled with my own self-confidence and self-worth, so relationships don’t come easy for me. However, I don’t want to see others hurt or struggle like I have, so I want to help. When it comes to myself, I’m afraid to open up, afraid of misunderstandings, and if I’m being really honest, I’m afraid of conflict.
I became a “Yes” girl, a people pleaser. I set aside my own needs in relationships in order to help and encourage those around me. I grew into the role of encourager, and I truly love helping others and lifting them up, but inside I can often be hurting, hiding my own struggles until it explodes out of me. It’s not always on purpose I do this. I easily make myself busy, and I often forget to truly take care of myself.
Thanks to the discipleship and mentorship of leaders in my life, I am learning how to balance. Sometimes it feels like I’m a slow learner, as it seems like I go through this process a lot. But the great thing about this journey called life is we are all on a journey and we have grace. Encouragers need encouragement, too, and that means being open and vulnerable. For someone who constantly serves to lift up another, it’s hard.
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This poem was written in honor of the memory of Command Sergeant Major John Podhirny. CSM Podhirny was killed in a motorcycle accident two weeks after retiring from the Colorado Army National Guard. His last command was Battalion Command Sergeant Major of the 147th Brigade Support Battalion.
This poem comes from a special memory in my military career when CSM Pod encouraged me during my competition in the 2016 Colorado National Guard Best Warrior Competition. I had no chance to win, but I wasn’t there to win. I was there to better myself. CSM Pod saw that drive in me and encouraged me as I kept fighting until the end, when I could finally rest. His belief in me, as a young soldier, gave me strength to keep going until the finish line.
Continue reading “Finish The Walk”