Good morning and happy Monday to you all! I know this topic may be sensitive to most and I totally understand. I normally choose not to speak on whether I believe in God or not as well as what side of the fence I stand, when it concerns politics. I’ve always feared how things may be misconstrued. I’ve seen life-long relationships destroyed over who an individual voted for or arguments over if someone does or does not believe God exists. However, I’m starting to believe that not being open about these pertinent topics is a part of the problem.
I choose to love others even if they are different from me. Believers, non-believers white black brown yellow. We are all unique for a reason and I believe we can all learn from each other. Growing up in a very small city, I was raised to be seen and not heard. My mother and father raised myself and my brothers to be respectful, have self dignity and pride, but we were also taught never to look down on others. We are all well rounded individuals. However, we learned fairly quickly that even though we were perfectly capable of voicing our opinions and beliefs with tact, it was not always accepted the way we expected.
How many times have you assumed that an individual would be okay with a statement you’ve made and was shockingly surprised by their response? For example, we all know the latest election ruffled some feathers no matter what side of the fence we stood on. There was negativity flying every which way we turned. Social media was bombarded with accusations for both parties and there was so much racial hate exposed from friends I never viewed as hateful individuals.
I was thoroughly disgusted to the point that I created a post that went viral fairly quickly pertaining to racial slurs I saw on my news-feed. I basically stated “If you are racist please remove yourself from my page. I will not entertain someone who attacks an individuals character based on the color of their skin.” Can you imagine the uproar? Fortunately for me, my parents and life prepared me mentally for adversity. For one I agree everyone is entitled to their opinion. Opinions are like farts, too hard to hold in. 🙂 I get it. But when you attack someone because of the color of their skin you lose.
I say this to say yes, I am a believer but it is not because I was raised a Christian. I served 8 years in the Air Force as a Cardiopulmonary Tech and I took my own thoughts and feelings into consideration on this 8 year journey to find myself. Yes my parents may have planted the seed at an early age, but I’ve always been known to have a mind of my own and choose my own path. Life’s experiences are the reason I am a believer. To be honest, my faith was shaken, and I turned my back on the church after joining the military.
I remember being stationed in Maryland and feeling a void. I felt I was missing something so I began to search for different churches to join. Little did I know I was being tested. The first 3-4 churches I visited were massive. While it was cool to blend in, I thought how will anyone know who I am and how will I get to know others if I never see them more than once?
Furthermore, the collection plate was being passed around more than the word was being given. Obviously, this didn’t sit well with me either. I also, tried removing the experience I had as a child of the church I was raised in. Its obviously a problem if everyone was more concerned about the type of clothing an individual wore more than they were concerned about the word being given. And the crazy part was at a very young age I knew the word stated to “Come as you are”. Not come as you are with a few conditions. Needless to say, this left a bad taste in my mouth when it concerned southern baptist churches.
But back to my military career; Life finally got ahold of me. Needless to say my faith was extremely weak and shaken. I turned my back on the church and I was too ashamed to call on people that mattered so I was alone. But believe it or not, these difficult times were when God revealed himself to me time after time.
For example; I had a jealous female supervisor in the Air Force who wanted to destroy my career for absolutely no reason. I seriously believe she was in competition with me for attention. I was only 18 and she was in her mid thirties. I thought, what could we possibly have to compete about? This woman is a Tech Sergeant who is almost 40. We have nothing in common. I expected her behavior from my peers not her.
Wasn’t she supposed to be steering me in the right direction? You see, I was what you call a super troop. Very focused and diligent. I made Senior Airman Below the Zone (an award given when you compete to receive rank before your peers) as well as received multiple rewards from chiefs and commanders for my hard work and dedication.
Just when I thought my supervisor would be successful in destroying my career and I had nothing left to give, God gave me favor with the person who transfers troops from base to base. God removed me from beneath this woman. I realize some may leave this situation to chance or luck but when situations such as these continue to happen its difficult to turn a blind eye.
Thank God I was transferred to Florida. Bye bye crazy lady. 🙂 Just kidding. Hurt people, hurt people and this woman was definitely hurting about something that had absolutely nothing to do with me. I have forgiven her since but it took a very long time. (forgiveness isn’t for them it’s for you-but I’ll save that for a future post) One thing I have learned through experience, is as a believer it does not mean you will not encounter hardships, it means God will guide you through them. You don’t get to skip over the bad parts but you will enjoy goodness even more.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5
Once I was stationed in Florida and getting settled in can you believe what happened next? I encountered a racist supervisor. Man I was on a roll right? 🙂 I was the only black female in my office. My peers were Asian and Caucasian which never bothered me being that I was raised in a mostly Caucasian neighborhood growing up. But it’s kind of hard to say oh she just doesn’t like me when certain things only affect the new black girl all the way down to singling me out for PT which is physical training.
She decided she’d give me all the jobs no one wanted and hated that I excelled no matter where she placed me, continuously receiving recognition.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
As soon as she received word that someone in my job field was needed to fill a deployment position in Balad, Iraq she gave the commander my name knowing I was a newly wed. There were plenty others available in my careerfield with far more experience than myself. She intentionally skipped over them and sent me for 5 months.
I chose to keep moving forward. I was deployed to Iraq in one of the worst times to be deployed there. The base hospital was a tent set up in 125 degree weather and every time I thought things had settled I heard bombs and explosions. I was a combat respiratory medic and many lives were lost in battle. Very young men and women.
It was devastating and it humbled me. I’ve seen things that most will never experience and that I will never forget. However, I now know that what she may have done to hurt me God used for my good. I met very sweet Arabic people on this deployment, so no they are not all terrorist. Every race has sick people in it.
I received countless medals and awards while deployed including Tuskegee Airman of the Quarter. I was also promoted to Staff Sergeant and chosen to run the respiratory department. I was appointed by one of the commanders in the hospital as a lead respiratory tech for all trauma’s in the ER. I DO NOT SAY THIS TO BRAG. I say this to say, I believe because when I had no one else and I felt everything and everyone were against me, God showed up. Even when individuals attacked me and I had nowhere to turn God turned an ugly situation into a beautiful one.
So, yes I love my parents dearly but I can’t give them full credit for me being a believer. I found God on my own and I still love you if you haven’t. Thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated. Be blessed.
Written by: Ashley Cole