In my previous post, I wrote about how I had failed a very important weight and body fat check while entering Journeyman Instructor School. This failure jeopardized my chances to become a Navy instructor and caused me gross embarrassment.
Nevertheless, I thought that maybe God could use this as a ministry to others. I didn't know for sure, though, because this wasn't something God did to me, it was something that I did to myself. I kept eating high-calorie and high-fat meals. I didn't work out to compensate. None of this was God's doing. Still, as I sat in the holds office awaiting my fate, I prayed, "God, maybe you can do something with this. If there is any way, I give you my situation." It was a simple prayer, but it was the best I could do. I was ashamed of myself.
God wasted little time. Yes, I went through a good deal of judgement as I checked in to the holds division as a loser and a failure. The chief who was in charge of the division made no effort to hide his displeasure. I did stand up for myself, but didn't argue with him. That would have been counter-productive. I knew the truth. I knew that my hope was in God.
I met many of the young sailors I would be working with that day and the following morning. A lot of them were being kicked out because they had screwed up their lives to that point. In some ways, I understood. Despite having a number of awards and great evals, I was essentially throwing away my career, just like they were.
Another thing that they were all going through was a harsh prejudice against junior sailors/students. Once they were in trouble, the military in charge of them continued to nit-pick anything that was wrong, even if marginal. Things that wouldn't have gotten them in trouble on a ship "in the real Navy" was getting them in trouble here. I realized what God was wanting me to do. I realized my purpose.
They needed to know that not every senior leader was out to get them or drag them down. I tried my hardest to become the person that could give them hope. I counseled and mentored many of them about their futures. Those who weren't being kicked out I mentored to help them find their direction. I encouraged them to do what they were told, keep their noses clean, and push through. They would get to the fleet soon...a fleet that didn't care if they made a mistake in A School. I told them about sailors I had known who had made mistakes in school only to be great sailors in the fleet.
And I worked hard. I was losing about 4 pounds a week during this time. I was determined to show these students that I, too, was doing everything I could do to fight through my situation and the judgement I was facing as a "failure." God was using me as an example of hope and spirit for these young sailors. It felt wonderful.
I didn't get through to all of them. Many did get kicked out of the Navy. I might have made their last few days a little brighter, but the fact is that many of them were already too far gone to rescue. It wasn't up to me to make them see the hope I had, only to offer it to them. I also didn't get to outright share my testimony with many of them either. On a few occasions, I was able to share how my faith was vital to me getting through the current circumstances. On another occasion, I was able to reinforce the faith of a few young sailors, even including offering them a ride to church if they wished for it. Anyway, all I can do is pray that I left an impression.
My stay in the holding division was God-ordained. It might have been my fault that I was there, but I was in God's hands the entire time. And when it was time for me to leave...when my work there was done...God move me along. Find out about that tomorrow!