Both easy and not

Nine weeks into IBOLC and the list of ways that God has been good to me continues to grow. More than ever I am encouraged by how ready I was for all of this. When I was home I often felt confused and stuck in place. Why was I always drawn to random things? Why did I always feel like I needed to leave, even though I loved where I was? Now it seems to make sense (as much as anything makes sense in this life). The Army is a random and uncomfortable place; like a farm in Canada, or like Oakland, California. You have to be able to run and do pull ups, like you do when you hang out with Nate and Andrew and go to circuit. It’s full of white people who dip, like an ambulance company in Concord, CA. It requires patience in the face of often confusing and irrational behavior/orders, like dealing with the homeless or a certain old lady. If anything, the Army is less messy and confusing than the existence of an upper-middle class, educated Asian-American in a place like Oakland. Right time, right place, right uniform. That’s all it really takes to be successful here. And they literally give you all the answers to every test…

And yet, I find myself getting sucked into the culture in unhealthy ways. The Army is judgmental and competitive by design. Order of Merit lists, class ranks, standardized PT tests all appeal to my proud and competitive nature. If I am not careful I easily fall into the military’s view of people and judge them accordingly. Everyone is either better or worse than I am, and I forget that people are different, with intrinsic value that cannot be measured by their APFT score, special skill patches/tabs, or place in the OML. Needless to say, this view undercuts my ability to minister to others, and often even my ability to see others as people worthy of my time and effort.

I wonder if maybe I am less prepared than I think? That maybe my pride only flares up because I am insecure in this new environment? Maybe I feel the need to perform at a high level because I am trying to prove something, rather than seeking an excellence (in spirit as well as in actions) that glorifies the one who frees me from worldly expectation and sent me here in the first place. I want to be the one that lifts up and encourages, not the one that judges and discourages, that puts others down and basks in the smug comfort of relative superiority (as I’m afraid I often have since I’ve been here.)

There’s a line in OCMS’s “Big Time in the Jungle” that goes: the Army moves slow, hurry up and wait, don’t sleep late, you learn to hate your brother, before you hate your foe.

That rings much too true, especially for a “band of brothers” who are supposed to trust each other with our lives. God help me to be strong, to be pierced daily by the beauty of your Gospel, to trust you and remember you in the dark, the cold, the field, the confusion and the clamor.


~ by justinhong on March 23, 2014.

One Response to “Both easy and not”

  1. praying for you… you are awesome!! ❤ auntie jen

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