Five years ago, I felt God leading me to delete my personal Facebook page. I didn’t want to. On November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, I deactivated it. That was the same day as my deactivation ceremony from my deployment to Afghanistan.
I know that some of my friends were upset that I deactivated it. What I think they didn’t understand was all that I was dealing with then.
That deployment fundamentally changed me. I came out of that combat zone needing inner healing and understanding that only God could give. I needed to see America for what it really was, not the social media version.
My first journal entry after returning: “Ready? I don’t feel like I’m ready. How could I have dropped everything Army one day, and simply changed clothes and walked away? I can’t seem to find anything. Where did I leave my memory?”
The transition home was quick and that first year was rough as I tried to reintegrate. I’m thankful for a patient roommate that year. I found comfort in the song Not for a Moment by Meredith Andrews.
God helped me understand that I will never be the same and that is okay. God helped me realize that I might never be able to fully put into words my experiences there, but He understands. He helped me accept that those who have never been in combat will never be able to relate and that is okay. I am thankful that not everyone has to go to war. What a terrible world we would live in if we all had to go.
Since being in combat, I’ve seen movies with war scenes only a handful of times. The visuals still trigger dreams and memories. Since that deployment, I always end up with a lump in my throat during our National Anthem.
I came home loving Americans more than ever before. I returned with experiential knowledge of the sacrifices that U.S. service members make for the freedom of all Americans. With that knowledge, I came back hoping that Americans–in their freedom–would make wise decisions for the sake of our nation and the future of our country. However, I think that most Americans do not keep the connection between their day-to-day lives and our nation as a whole at the forefront of their minds.
For me, this freedom we have in America is precious. We aren’t a perfect nation, but we do have freedoms that I believe we will be held accountable for. Galatians 5:13 gives guidance on what to do with freedom.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
Selflessness rather than selfishness. I would encourage all Americans to serve one another humbly in love and find ways to help foster peace, patience, kindness, and understanding.