I had a difficult time with what this week’s Chaplain Moment would be. It was a difficult week for my squadron. I won’t be going into it at all but since this is written primarily for the Airmen of my squadron it would be disingenuous to ignore it completely.
It brought to mind the lyrics of a country song by Rodney Atkins:
Well you know those times
When you feel like there’s a sign there on your back
Says I don’t mind if ya kick me
Seems like everybody has
Things go from bad to worse
You’d think they can’t get worse than that
And then they do
Now, I am not saying things will get worse when you are in a tough situation but it does sometimes feel like we have been blindsided. When that happens it usually will take some time to find our rhythm but we do that by getting back on the bull, so to speak.
Which brings me to the chorus of the song:
If you’re going through hell
Keep on going, don’t slow down
If you’re scared, don’t show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you’re there
When we find ourselves in these situation the way out is to keep pushing to be our best in all areas, to encourage one another, and make sure that we stay connected and engaged with one another. Nothing about our mission has changed. We still have a job to do.
Here is a challenging thought: One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face is choosing to walk away or try harder. Let’s continue to try harder and make Team Morón the best it can be.
Allow me to leave you with this prayer:
“May we have strength to walk difficult paths, compassion to assist those who stumble, wisdom to make the right decisions, and certainty that we do not walk the path alone.
As the military moves into its heavy PCS (permanent change of station) season, particularly ours, I begin to feel a certain kinship with those who have weathered the storm with me. The great thing about a place like Morón, a remote assignment of either 15 or 24 months, is that you get to know the people you are stationed with in ways that you don’t normally do so. It is unavoidable because “we are all we got”.
We see each other’s everything, warts and all. And there is good in that, allowing us to bond and connect in ways that don’t happen at a larger installation. But there is also some bad because there is no “off” time. There is really no place to go where you can escape from someone you either work for or works for you or see you as a peer.
In many ways, especially for leaders, you must always be “on”. No matter where you go there are eyes on you and after two years people have seen you at your best and at your worst. What I don’t want to miss in that and what I don’t want you to miss is how special that is and how much of a difference that can make in what we can do.
My good friend Dave shared an African proverb with me that really struck a chord: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” You may be quicker and more efficient doing things on your own but you accomplish far more when you work as a part of a team, as a part of a family. The proverb, of course, is about running. Running with a partner or group helps you to go farther because they are there to encourage and push you to do better.
I leave you with this quote by writer and runner Kristin Armstrong: “There is something sacred…about friendships forged through the miles. We see the depths of each other–the pain, the sweat, the commitment, the frailty, the strength, and the courage.” The “miles” spent to together as Team Morón are not easy but they are forging relationships stronger than you could ever imagine.
—— Chaplain Taser
A couple of weeks ago was Holy Week, a season of great importance for those of the Christian faith. In Spain, wherever you went you saw beautiful processionals where Catholics showed their faith and devotion by carrying religious floats, candles and crosses all to honor Christ and the events leading to his crucifixion and resurrection. Each night men and women of faith take to the streets to show their devotion to their faith either as a part of the procession or to be a witness to them. For some, it means hours upon hours of navigating the streets of their town while carrying a float that weighs 3,000-5,000 pounds. To be there and watch them is amazing but to be in one of the churches where they begin, as I was one night, and see them do something near impossible was awe inspiring. To exit the church, they had to kneel with the float perched on their shoulders and literally crawl out so that it could fit through the door. This display of devotion is decidedly Catholic and distinctly Spanish.
I share this story not because, since it is Easter we should talk about church things, but because I think there is a lesson to us all, people of a particular faith or not, about the length and depth we may be required to go to for something we believe in. When things are important to us we fight for them, we sacrifice for them, we give everything we have for them, especially if they are difficult. Sometimes it is because they are difficult that we really strive for them. Could this church make changes to make it easier to get the floats out of the building? Yes, but maybe the challenge is the point. Just because something is easy doesn’t mean it is necessarily the most worthwhile thing.
I want to close with a quote from President John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech: “But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
— Ron (Chaplain Taser)
Each Thursday I have the opportunity to share a “Chaplain Moment” with the men and women of the Matadors. Please join me each week as I share the musings prepared for them with you.
Something that not everyone knows about me is that I love professional wrestling. Go ahead laugh, get it out. I don’t watch it as much as I did in my first thirty years but it is still something near and dear to my heart. I love the athleticism and theatrics of it.
Since my teenage years, my favorite group was the Four Horsemen: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Barry Windham (that’s the best lineup…don’t argue). Arn Anderson was known as “The Enforcer” and was my favorite. When I had aspirations of pro wrestling, he was my idol and I patterned my style and mannerisms after him. He was the quiet, profound one of the Horsemen and one of his classic quotes was, “Adversity introduces a man to himself”.
Sometimes life is difficult and we wonder how we can make it through a particularly tough stretch. Christian scripture is ripe with verses and stories, such as the 23rd Psalm, which encourages us to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and the Story of the Prodigal Son, that can help us to persist through the tough times and letting us know that we can find out who we truly are in the midst of struggle.
This came to mind because Tuesday, April 4th, was the 39th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who lived and persisted through tremendous persecution for the things he believed in and to change the world.
In his memory, I will leave you with this quote from him on character. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Where are you standing?