"So, how was your Christmas?", I asked PV2 Pete as we sat down at Panera Bread to kick the tires on the Holidays. "Did you get a chance to spend some quality time with the family? And did you make it to church?" This was our first meeting since Christmas and I was curious if his experiences were good ones. I was hoping they were good times in the worst way.....or perhaps I should say, in the best way.
"Well, I can't say they were all bad, but I sure wish they would have been different, you know?", he replied. I was hoping for some miracle to take placeand it didn't. And when I say miracle, I mean, from the standpoint of somebody offering me a job, a care package of clothes and money or something. I was really thinking God was going to show me this Christmas how "giving" some people could be. And that never happened. I was hurt. Angry. In fact, I yelled at God for letting me down!!
I was disappointed in Pete's remarks...but I'm not sure where that discouragement fell. Was it at Pete, the people that could have done something or God. So, with that in mind, I slowly tried to respond to the young man sitting across from me. "Aaaah, yeah", I started. "Pete, you know disappointments are something we have to learn to deal with. I can tell you about those that I've had, but I'm not sure what purpose they'd serve. Just know that I have. But you can't let that rule your thinking, at least from a negative perspective. Remember when you were a little kid and you wished for something on Christmas, something that you had to have know matter what? And you do recall the years those wishes came true and the years they didn't? Well, that's kind of the same thing.
"You're right, sir", he said. "I hadn't thought about it from that standpoint. That helps. You know as much as I wanted a miracle, I can learn from it not taking place. Next year, I can do something different and surprise somebody that needs help. If anyone knows what it's like to be let down, it's me. I know my mouth gets me in trouble once in a while because I'm so quick to react. I'm going to put the "bad" feelings I had this season to good use.
As Pete and I continued to visit, I found my mind wandering to the other Iowa soldiers who were experiencing their first Christmas at home since deploying to Afghanistan. How many had similar disappointments? How many showed their disgust with words or actions they later regretted? And how much of a learning tool would this Christmas be for the ones that will follow? Looking at Pete, I marveled at the quick assessment he had of his situation. Despite the hurt Pete felt....he also experienced tremendous growth. And it came to me....if we could only keep our mouths half-open and our thoughts in the right place.
|A Solider Wishing For Something Too....|
"Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water". -James 3:1-12