Last week I flew to the west coast to attend a Marine graduation. Before that occasion, I knew little to nothing about the military. You know when you read something but your eyes just skim without making a connection?
From now on, the word Marine will forever stop me in my tracks.
What I learned about honor, courage, and commitment in two days made me hold my own shoulders back, put my chest out a bit, and walk taller. We could all learn from these Leather Necks. These Devil Dogs. These Marines with a capital M.
Siempre Fidalis, they say in Latin. Always Faithful, it translates.
To whom are we faithful? To what family do we swear our loyalty and commitment?
There is family you’re born into, family you’re sworn into, and family you’re married into, I learned on the trip.
I felt conflicted about the need to have young men offer to give up their life to protect the people in their country who often have no idea, like me, what is sacrificed to do so.
I felt saddened that a country has to mass-produce fighting machines because there are real live bad guys out there who want to hurt and kill others.
And then I felt overwhelmed with pride at first glance of a boy-turned-man in three months and could not contain the sobs that bubbled up and spilled out of me.
It was unforgettable. Pure love.
And I didn’t even give birth to one of the 400 young men present.
While I loved the discipline, intensity, and precision of the platoons I witnessed, I know I don’t have what it takes to wear the uniform. It’s all the more reason I respect and honor those who do.
But what I did hear during a short presentation from the Chaplain solidified a purpose buried deep in me since I was little.
Chaplains are sworn to confidentiality and the spiritual wellbeing of all recruits and Marines in the Corps (as well as the Navy and other armed-forces). The Chaplain honors all religious labels and acknowledges The Holy One on behalf of those who come to him to share their struggles.
The Chaplain’s message resonated with me.
The rarity of finding a human being able to listen without judgment, to love and encourage without agenda, to care for the spiritual wellbeing and honor the most private thoughts of others above their own has not been lost to me.
I turned to my husband during the presentation and said, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a military Chaplain.” What I was really saying was that no matter the job title, allowing for even the toughest of men to have a sacred and safe place to share is a calling I’ve felt for decades––to provide a presence to anyone who is struggling––especially to the guy or gal who is least expected to struggle.
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I don’t have your answers, I can’t give you three “how-to’s” to change your life, and I won’t promise you won’t struggle again, but I am willing to listen, to love, and to leave it all where we last met.
“You’re a frequency holder,” my friend once told me.
If a Marine, an elite and courageous fighting warrior, has access to a confidential place to share struggle, then none of us need to feel anything other than acceptance when we desire the same place to share as well. You’ve got this!
Or as Marines say to motivate each other: Oorah!
Rachel is a professional coach who loves the lessons of life experiences. Learn more here.
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