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Fear Not: The Reluctant Recruit

6 Sep

I never dreamt I would end up in the Military, let alone the Air Force.  When the Lord opened that door and shoved me through it, kicking and screaming I might add, I still thought at the back of my mind that after all those trips to the recruiter’s office, the two trips to MEPS, and the final weigh-in before I went to MEPS to ship off to Basic that He would throw something into the mix letting me off the hook.

He did not.

I will never forget the night before I left for MEPS- my last night at the only home I had ever known.  I realized I would never return and find it the same.  I realized the step I was about to take was going to send me over a cliff, and I either had to learn real fast how to trust in Him, or I was going to drown for six years.  I slept very little that night.

Then the short night at MEPS where I was loaded onto a bus, taken to the airport, and flown to San Antonio.  The longest short night of my life.  I was so riddled with fear.  I knew I was not cut out for Military life.  I knew that I was going to fail.  I was not in shape, despite my skinny frame.  I could barely run up a flight of stairs without feeling like I would collapse from shortness of breath and weak muscles.  I knew I was not up to being yelled at.  After years of being yelled at, I had never gotten used to it, and it always reduced me to tears- to know that for six and a half weeks, someone was paid to yell at my every mistake had me quaking inside.

When we got off the plane in San Antonio and waited for the buses that were to take us to Lackland AFB, I remember sitting in a darkened hallway in the airport surrounded by other recuits.  Few of us spoke.  Whether or not they shared my fears and insecurities or were simply exhausted, I will never know.  I remember being too wound up and anxious, the fear a tight not in the pit of my stomach that threatened to reveal itself physically.  I swallowed hard every couple of minutes to keep down the bile.

Suddenly, the TI send to fetch us stood at the end of the hallway.  All I could see was his silhouette.  A tall, stocky man with the recognizable TI hat.  As he yelled at us to gather our gear and prepare to follow him, my fear threatened to overwhelm me.  I looked at him and I looked behind me at the empty hallway stretching back to the airport.  I stared long and hard behind me.  How bad would it be to simply step out of line and return to the life I knew?  How severe would the consequences be really for walking away from my “signed contract.”  I knew I didn’t belong there.  Soon enough they would know too.  So why stay?  Why put myself through hell?

“Because,” the still small voice spoke.  As the TI moved down the line taking roll, I battled with my God.

“Why?” I pleaded as I noticed the TI getting closer.  Somehow, I knew once he got my name and verified it on his list, there would be no escape.

“Trust me,” the still small voice spoke again deep in my heart.

“It’s too much, too hard… Oh, God!  WHY?”   Panic hit me hard as the TI was only a couple people away from me.

“FEAR NOT!” said the voice sternly in such a way I was sure the girl in line in front of me heard it too, though maybe she just turned to look at me as I caught my breath and fought the urge to throw up.

“Fear not,” the voice said again more gently as the TI was suddenly standing in front of me.

“Fear not,” the voice whispered as I stared at the ground and gave the TI my name and waited for him to find my name on his list.

“Fear not,” the voice repeated to me over and over during the first week of Basic Training.  But that moment in the hallway, in the darkness, in the midst of my fear and anxiety, that still small voice somehow kept me rooted and helped me jump off that terrifying cliff into a whole new world, new life, new adventure- all things that changed my life in ways I never dreamed.

I look back now and realize His Hand at work.  I look at my Military family, the lessons I have learned, the people I have met, the friends who have become more like family, the DH who I met while serving, our resulting family, and most of all the closer relationship I have with my Lord (imperfect as it is), and I see a piece of the tapestry He has spun for me.

I will never forget that fearful period, or that terrifying moment in San Antonio.  It was life changing- it should not be forgotten.

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This post has been part of the Blogtember Challenge started by Jenni.
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