I don’t talk much about my time in the Marine Corps. It is not a particularly easy time for me because I see it as one of my biggest failures – and that is saying a lot. So, every year I struggle with feelings of guilt and remorse on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. There are other times during the year that these feeling overwhelm me but especially on these two days I feel the most regret for not completing my tour when I was a Marine while so many others not only completed theirs but died in the process.
Every time I meet someone that served in the Corps, I want to reach out a hand and say “Semper fi”, or “Hey Devil Dog” but the inevitable stares me in the face and the realization that they’re going to ask me what my MOS (Military Occupational Specially aka your job) was or how long I was in and I retreat – something I am quite good at – into my silent shell and hide until the fear or more likely, the Marine, passes.
Yes, I know once a Marine always a Marine and I did graduate boot camp with my platoon – 2nd Battalion Plt. 2021 – so in that light I am, in fact, every bit a Marine as every other person that has walked across that tarmac but I still feel like I quit on God, my country, the Corps and myself.
I doubt that anyone who has ever spent time on Parris Island, regardless of their faith, has not prayed to get out and go home. Life on the island is hard, really hard if you’re an 18 year old kid that’s led a pretty soft life – and let’s face it in
comparison to boot camp most of our lives have been soft up to that point – but how many people get that prayer answered the way they want. Or, they way they think they want. Had I known they feeling s I would fight, the guilt that would consume me or the anger I would harbor toward myself, going on 25 years now…well, hindsight, huh?
This is not meant to be a sermon on being careful what you wish for – I still say pray to God for what you want with reckless abandon – and I am not looking for sympathy for the stupid choices I have made. There are far and away many other stupid choices I would prefer to have your sympathy for. No, this is a chance for me to point you to Romans 8:28. This verse says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Now, I need to point out that I do believe this verse covers everyone – or can – that lives, now, tomorrow or yesterday but only impacts your life if you profess Christ as savior.
We all make mistakes, take wrong turns and make bad decisions. In short we all do stupid stuff – again see most of my life for a long colorful list – but that does not have to define us. We can allow that to happen and we can make our lives miserable – another bad decision.
God wants only the best for us but that starts with our willingness to be obedient to Him and that obedience begins with recognizing that we are separated from Him by the sin in our lives.
Deal with that sin – and apply Romans 8:28. Don’t live – or die – with the regret of not accepting the gift that costs you nothing but cost Jesus EVERYTHING!
Mike you have so much to be proud of but MOST of all your saving grace in Christ Jesus. Remember at the end of Romans chapter 8 (my favorite chapter in the bible) Nothing can separate us for the love that is in Christ Jesus. Looing back is sometimes painful but the Bible says not to look back or forward but to live for today. Love you my friend and so appreciate your posts!!!!
Ron, as always I appreciate your input. That last part of Romans is also something I take comfort in and I am trying to make living for today a bigger part of my life than ever before. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Love you too brother.
MIchael, I was at Parris Island as a JROTC Cadet in 84. I know what that place is like. I also know how you feel about Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day every year. After spending 3 years in Ft. Leavenworth and receiving a dishonorable discharge from the Army, these holidays are especially painful. You may not have completed your enlistment but you served with honor! You know Semper Fi means always faithful and that is instilled in you to this day. Don’t feel shame because that is not how God sees you and in the end, His opinion is all that matters.
Mike, thank you so much for your encouragement. While I did not spend time at Ft. Leavenworth – I got out with an Honorable medical – I appreciate your perspective. It’s good to know I am not the only one that feels this way. And yes, Semper Fi will always mean a great deal to me almost as much as John 3:16. Thanks again brother.
Mick, Jesus tells us not to judge – and sometimes I think that means ourselves.
Let me tell you something, though – my husband was just a bit too young to go to Vietnam, but he tells me all the time how guilty he feels that so many others served and died while he went to high school. So he would understand what you’re saying and feeling.
However, God does indeed take our pasts, our mistakes, and turns them into something that can end up honoring Him – if we are willing to surrender our lives, and our pasts, to Him. The Great Redeemer, yes.
He is truly the One who exemplifies Semper Fi…
Grateful today for all those who have served, and are serving, our country. And mostly, I am eternally grateful for a Savior who died to set us TRULY free.
Sharon, you are 100% correct we cannot judge ourselves, we must forgive ourselves and we must allow ourselves to receive the grace God holds out to us – if he does not remember our confessed sins who are we to hold onto them. I think, in a way, it is like John said when we do that we call God a liar by telling him he might be able to forgive everyone sins but not mine, not this one – this is too much for you God, too much, Jesus didn’t have this much blood. I am so thankful that he separates us from our sin as far as the east is from the west but Satan is GOOD at his job and sometimes he get’s into all our heads. You’re also right that God is the embodiment of Semper Fi there is NO ONE more faithful than He.
Thanks as always for stopping by – I do appreciate your time.
Your perspective is hard won but so important. We all serve in unique ways, that don’t look like textbook definitions, but our Commander has an eternal perspective and we trust Him. Who you are today, with the sum total of victories and defeats, is the person that God is using. I am grateful for those who have served and protected us. Some of those heroes died without Christ. That is the great task we are called to, to ensure that those we meet have heard about the One whose death was the highest price paid. Eternity is the goal. We boast in what He has done. Thank you for your openhearted post today. Thought provoking!
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment – I appreciate your time. You’re right too many of those that have paid the ultimate price for our freedom to talk about Jesus died with out knowing him and that makes me sad. We can only boast in what he’s done – apart from him we can do nothing. Please stop back by any time.