Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Embrace the suck...

     On the medical front things are going so well I sometimes forget what I've been through or how far I've come. I saw the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago and she was amazed by the progress of the healing post GVHD. I found a photo that I'd taken to send to the doctor when it first developed and I myself was shocked. It truly is amazing what the human body is capable of when it's given the right tools necessary for growth and healing, when the temple is worshipped... It took me a long time to realize that, and I've been looking into the foods I eat to nourish my temple. Some of the stuff on the shelves at the stores really does scare me. It's no surprise, therefore, that the number of diseases we continue to encounter are becoming more and more numerous. All of this research has also led me to some other theories and a new way of interacting in the world around me, more on that to come... 

     Physically I feel great. I've been out walking and riding my bike more and more and I look forward to getting out and hiking and maybe (FINALLY) doing a little fishing. Mentally and emotionally I think it's safe to say I've never felt as good as I do presently. When I got home from church last Sunday, for the first time I sat down and really dug into the sermon, and it led me to some really great stuff. What I found odd, and what I spent a good deal of time pondering, was that most of the things I was looking into had come into my life before. I finally realized that in those moments, when these resources had come before, I simply wasn't ready to deal with them. I've also come to realize that very often when we are going through some difficult time we look for solutions, for shortcuts to make our journey through Suckville shorter, to get us back to where we feel happy. The thing is, we all too often have to take the hard road to get there, we need, as part of the process, to embrace the suck. It has come into our lives for a reason and we need to find out why. Sometimes we manage to find what we think is a shortcut to get us around the suck but eventually it comes back, sometimes deeper and messier than before. 

     People often ask "Why did God let this happen?" or "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" God is always available to us, He is there all the time and is waiting on you. People don't suffer because of God, people suffer because of people, because we don't allow the spirit of God to flow through us. We all too often get in our own way and separate ourselves from God. I think when those things happen God is right alongside us, He never leaves us, His love never fails. All of us are longing for that connection, whether we admit it or not, but we let our egos get in the way. We want things for ourselves, money, nice cars, new clothes, giant TVs... Where does God come into play when we are pursuing those things? We're also inherently lazy, as a species, and we are programmed to take the path of least resistance. We KNOW junk food is bad for us, that fast food is bad for us, but we still eat it... So if we don't keep God foremost when things are good and we are embracing all the things we want for us, how then can we be angry or upset when we think He's not there in the bad times? Maybe those bad things come to us because we have strayed too far from His path and we need a reminder. Maybe we never were on the path and some really Big Stuff™ will stop us dead in our tracks and set us on the path, like a child picking up a toy train and setting it on another track. I can tell you with certainty that's how it worked for me. I've learned more in the last few years than in all the schooling and years of experiences prior and I wouldn't trade any of the suck for anything in the world. I love who I am now, and who I am becoming. 

     So when things aren't going your way, learn to take a time out and ask yourself why, ask if this is really the direction you were meant to be going and if so, then ask why it's so upsetting to you. Find the root cause, it's there but you have to look. Be forewarned, you may not like what you find. When life pulls the rug out from under you and you land in the suck ask yourself how you came to be on that rug. There's likely something you are meant to learn and if you try to circumvent the road out of the suck know that you may very well find yourself back in it all too soon and again and again and so on until you finally embrace the suck and slog your way through it, thus learning the lesson presented you.

Honor, Loyalty and Service

     When I was 18 I had no clue where my life was headed. I knew I couldn't afford college nor did I want much of anything more to do with school. At the time there was no war, no "conflict in the Middle East" so I joined the U.S. Air Force. In doing so I swore an oath of enlistment. "
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

     When I first spoke those words, I was still an immature kid going through the motions, undeniably as a result of my own choosing, and it was part of what had to be done. The older I get, now on the eve of my 43rd birthday 25 years on, I recite those words over and over from time to time in my head and take pause to reflect deeply on just what they mean, to me, my family, and my country. For me those words have now become a sacred bond, my honor bound pact to this nation and its citizens, to my family and friends and to myself and my sense of honor. I've come to realize that those words aren't just a part of the process of my leaving home in search of my life's path or direction, they're now a very important part of who I am and they hold true for me and will continue to do so until my dying breath. 

     25 years ago I made a promise, a very BIG promise that could have, for me at least, had severe consequences. In retrospect in sounds rather silly to swear to protect a piece of paper, written centuries before by a group of traitors to the Crown of England, and to do so even at the cost of my own life. But that's a rather simplistic way of looking at the situation. What those traitors - now hailed as some of the greatest heroes this great nation has ever known - did was stand up in defiance of tyranny and injustice. They stood up for freedom and equality, and they valued, above all, their own honor, and were willing to risk their very lives to defend it. How could I, in swearing to protect that document do any less? 

     What the Constitution meant to the Founding Fathers and what it means to me today are two rather different things, but while that is true, they also both deserve and in fact NEED defending from all enemies foreign, and domestic. In much the same way as the words penned centuries ago have changed in their meaning to this nation, my Oath of Enlistment has also taken on a new meaning. Reread that oath and you'll notice there's no "until" or end of contract clause. While it's true I've been honorably discharged, my oath, my promise to myself, to you and to every other American citizen is, and always shall be ever in effect. I WILL uphold and protect the Constiturion of these great United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, until the day I die. 

     My oath is my sacred word, my honor, and I hold those very sacred. My honor and my word, once it is given, are who I am. They hold me accountable and give me pause when issuing them forth. It is said with age comes wisdom. Well I can attest to that, as I've learned to not be so carefree in giving my word to anyone without first thinking through the consequences. Here's the thing I've come to realize, a man's honor doesn't mean much to some people these days, what with the internet and its complete anonymity. Anyone with access to it is free to say whatever they want without much fear of consequence. Read the comments on just about any YouTube video and you'll see what I mean. There are folks out there who will say anything just to get a rise out of other people knowing full well that the average person reading and/or commenting has no way of tracking down fartknocker297 and really beating some sense into the jack wagon authoring those comments. Those people are completely without honor. In some cultures it would still be said they not only have no honor but bring dishonor onto their family by their words or actions. That's just not who I am...

     Honor, loyalty and service... By my honor, and in upholding it, I remain loyal to my oath and to serve something higher than myself. The Constitution affords you a great many rights and I swear to defend it and your rights as written therein even if you are fartknocher297 and chose to rudely and vulgarly proclaim that a video of cute cats acting crazy is stupid. I cannot promise that if you dishonor someone in my presence you are free from consequences. Your actions and your words have consequences, we all fall under that golden rule. When you hassle a store clerk for doing his job and requiring to see a photo ID when you try to use a credit or debit card, your right to free speech has left the building along with Elvis and your honor. I will defend that clerk! When you bully a kid outside the library or movie theater in my presence, I will defend that kid. When you mistreat a child, even if it's yours, I'll defend that child. All of those people are afforded the same rights you are, and when you infringe on their rights you forfeit your own and you suffer the consequences. I cannot say what those consequences will be, that depends on the circumstances surrounding your dishonor. But I'll no longer remain silent or idly stand by. I swore an oath and my word is my sacred honor...

     I, Tracy Alan Luegge, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So. Help. Me. God.