This past week was full of Facebook notification each morning with a new “memory” from past years. Those little pictures and status updates reminded just how much things can change in twelve months. I went from the Guard to Active Duty. From making $10/hour at Best Buy to a job that makes it easy to support my family. From feeling like I had a pretty good handle on what it meant to be a Guard Chaplain to having absolutely no idea what it was going to look like doing it every day.
To say that God has been good to us since May of last year would be an understatement. Sure, we’ve had some stressful times as we tried to figure everything out but on the whole it’s impossible not to see God’s blessing in so much of what we’ve experienced.
I was blessed to come into a unit and be immediately surrounded by a great team of people. I can’t say enough about the current leadership of 6-8 CAV. Having that supportive environment made it easy for me to get my legs underneath me and start figuring out what kind of Chaplain I was going to be. I’m still working on that, but I have a much better picture now than I did a year ago. I’ve learned a lot of my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned to play to my strengths (e.g. teaching, maintaining a small circle of close friends, maintaining calm in all circumstances) and recognize that every Chaplain brings something different to the table and that God uses all types, skill sets, and personality types to impact the lives of soldiers.
I spent more time in the field in twelve months than I did in twelve years in the Guard. I learned that some of the best conversations can happen around MREs and during lulls in training. I learned how to manage my personal resources so that I would not burn myself out during high optempo times. I learned that those quiet moments in my tent before I went to sleep were a great time to read, pray, and look out the tent flap at the brilliant stars above the Fort Stewart woods.
I learned that you can’t put a price on family time and that I need to make time for them. That means getting out of the office at a reasonable time each day whenever I can. That means taking trips together to enjoy this beautiful area where we find ourselves at this point in our lives. That means making sure I take a little time for myself so that my tank doesn’t run dry and I end with nothing left to give to my wife and kids.
I learned the importance of connecting with people. Thanks to Chapel Next, I connected with three other Chaplains who have been a great joy to get to know, pray with, complain to, laugh with, and do life with. That God put all of us in the same place and living within blocks of each other on post is a testament to how he has blessed us so tremendously. I dread the day that moving trucks start packing these men and their families away but I’m so grateful that during these formative months on Active Duty that they’ve been here.
The past twelve months have simultaneously been some of the most stressful and most rewarding I’ve ever experienced. Here’s hoping we are blessed with many more years ministering to soldiers and their families.