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Monday, March 26, 2012

When I'm Tempted to Complain...

"Wherefore endure hardness as a good soldier . . ." 2 Timothy 2:3

We've had the wonderful privilege to minister to many Marines here on Camp Pendleton.  One young man, we'll call him Brandon, came over this morning to help us with our bus in return for a nice big breakfast!  He is a diesel mechanic in the Marine Corps, and of course is a very busy fella.

After breakfast, he told us what things were like over in Afghanistan during his deployment.  Bringing his dry humor into every situation, Brandon had us all roaring with laughter at some of the crazy things he did while he was there.  But some things carried with them a sharp stab at my comfort zone.  The things he went through are virtually unbelievable, and have made an indelible impression on my heart.

Being a diesel mechanic, he was extremely busy.  "I had no idea what busy was until I got over to Afghanistan," he told us.  "We were so busy working with our own equipment and also the Brits', there was a time when we were on duty twenty-three hours a day for four weeks!  The only time anybody could find us not busy was when we were asleep, so they'd wake us up and tell us that we needed to go back out and fix a machine.  It got to where I was so tired, I didn't care about anything any more.". 'Just kill me,' I would think to myself,". he laughed as he waved his hand.

Busy?  Yeah, I know busy.  But I don't think I know busy quite like Brandon does.  Going without sleep?  Oh, sure; when you have three kids three and under, you know what it's like to go without sleep.  But I don't think I've ever been as tired as Brandon has.

As the conversation continued to flow, my husband asked, "What's the closest you've been to an IED?"  (Improvised Explosive Device)

"I had one go off right under me once, when I was riding in a vehicle," he replied.  "I heard a tremendous boom, and felt my legs get real hot, almost like they were being scoured with hot sand, and then I remembered that sand, when it gets very heated, turns to glass.  So here I was, out in the middle of nowhere, with my legs encased in glass!"  He chuckled a little, then said, "My head was messed up for awhile, and I couldn't hear for a few days, but after awhile I was ok."  He told us of his hearing loss, but he made light of his injuries, saying, "Hey, at least that was all that happened!"  My mind went back to the many Marines I've seen wearing Prosthetic Legs.

Hardship?  Pain?  Oh, yes, I know pain.  Childbirth, for one.  And surgery recovery.  But...somehow I don't think I know pain quite like Brandon has.

His description of life there in Afghanistan sounded nothing like "normal."  "One of the very best things my buddy got from his family was a package of Depends," he quipped. 

I stared, the kids' jaws opened, then shut, and Jason asked, "What's Depends, Mom?"  After he was duly informed, he stared at the Marine as though he had come from Saturn.

"Yeah," Brandon continued.  "We'd be in a convoy, and we'd be on the road all day.  But they don't have convenience stores out in the desert every sixty miles or so.  And I learned that when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!"

OK.  Now that's nothing like I've ever experienced since I was in diapers.  Somehow my small motorhome with only one bathroom for all six of us sounds very spacious . . . very spacious indeed!

When Brandon left, I had to wonder, what's my comfort zone?  These folks have given up every comfort - and I mean EVERY comfort - for the sake of duty, but what about me?  Surely there is more I can do for my Lord. 

What's my comfort zone?  

Getting a hug by his best friend and the man who saved his life!

Do I complain, grumble, or belly-ache because there aren't enough fries in my Happy Meal?  Perhaps my home is small, and my feet get stepped on sometimes.  That sure beats having my feet blown off.

Sure, we have to wait in line for the bathroom, but that beats wearing Depends.

And sleep?  Why, I get more than I deserve!

Spending time with Brandon has brought all new meaning to the phrase, "endure hardness as a good soldier."  May I be willing to reach out of my comfort zone as I seek to live for God.

Finding contentment in our Journey,

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