Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Too Blessed

I have a confession to make.  Returning to my home unit after deployment was a scary thought.  Scary enough that I started losing weight about a month before leaving my deployed unit.  In fact, I acted as if I wasn't leaving.  Up until the week prior to my departure, people would ask when my last day was and I'd spout out the date and would shrug nonchalantly when they raised their eyebrows in surprise and said, "Wow!  That's coming up quick!"  I procastinated in starting my out-processing checklist.  It was like a big black spot on a good article in a magazine.  Even though I knew it was there, I'd try to read around it anyway and just get annoyed that it's there in the first place.  I used the "If I pretend it isn't there, I won't deal with it." concept to cope with it.  The truth is, I was scared shitless.

I didn't exactly enjoy my home unit.  I've served here since the summer of '07 and haven't yet taken a liking to it.  Not that the location is bad.  The town is small and quiet, just the way I like it.  There is a beach just minutes from my base.  If I want a woodsy environment, Patrick lives a few hours north of me and his home is in a tiny quiet town surrounded by trees and country life.  Cost of living is fair.  The local people are equipped with charming southern hospitality.  So... I'm stationed in a great location.  Could it be the base and its mission?

No.  The base is fairly large with great facilities.  The mission is... well, it's a mission.  Not a special mission but a normal one that requires the average amount of sacrifice from its people.  I don't have to work nights and worry about not seeing my children.  I don't work 12 hours a day.  Nothing ridiculous is asked of me.

I think it's my job.  The unit is small enough to be considered a family and large enough that you can pick out a favorite.  Like all families, there are cliques and "cool" people, the weird folks and the "black sheep."  There's gossip and manipulation.  But there's also kind of that "No one picks on my brother but me" mentality.  And right before I deployed, there was some gossip about me that was spread.  Even though I knew better than to take it personally, I did.  It hurt my feelings and humiliated me.  So, the thought of going back really stressed me.

I've prayed a lot and God has put it on my heart to return with an open mind. And all I've been doing since I've been back is observing, analyzing and adjusting. Whether I like it here or not doesn't matter, it's the attitude I plan to have about it.  Instead of coming to work with a scowl on my face, I've been polite and determined to get my work done.  And to be honest, having a better attitude about it has actually helped me cope with being here.  I feel... content.

Ephesians, Chapter 4 Verses 11-13 says "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."

After lots of prayer, I finally asked myself "Who am I to complain?"  Honestly, I am just a silly human.  I didn't create the world.  Or the universe.  I am not entitled to anything.  God has blessed me with a job, where others are jobless.  I have a home, where others are homeless.  And I have my children, when others have lost their own.  I am blessed!  God has kept me from being too poor to feed my family.  He has given me family to be with my kids while I was deployed.  He has shown me so much love and grace.  I have nothing to complain about.  Nothing at all. 

I learned something really neat last week.  It is kind of a guide to prayer.  It isn't a rule or anything, but something that helps us pray with integrity.  It uses the acronym of ACTS.  Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.  Here's something I found on ACTS:

ACTS (Click here for the source)One structure for prayer is given by the acronym "ACTS", representing adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (or intercession.)  This is one order, where we start off focusing on who God is, and praising him for that. Others find a CATS pattern helpful, beginning by clearing out of the way the things that sadden God in our lives, before we can go onto praise him.  Let's look briefly at each in turn : 
Adoration is to adore God, to worship him and to fulfil the commandment to love him with all of our heart, mind and soul. As we spend time in adoration, we praise God for who He is - our Creator, our Sustainer and our Redeemer. (more about praise and adoration.)
Confession allows us to clear away the things in the relationship between you and God which are displeasing to Him.  All of us have sinned. St John writes in his epistle "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (I Jn 1:8,9)  (more about confession.)
Thanksgiving.  From childhood we are brought up to say "Thank You" when someone does something for us, or gives us a gift.  Each moment God is blessing us, every minute we can recall the wonderful things that God has done for us, and the gifts that we have been given. And so, we need to be constantly thanking God for his blessings. In writing to Timothy, Paul makes it clear that we also need to be giving thanks for everyday, worldly things " I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Tim 2:1.
With all this said, I've got to repeat that I'm pretty darn content.  :)


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