Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My 'Splanation: Part II

Well, here it is: part two! Not that I think anyone has been sitting on pins and needles, but for those of you who are remotely curious, here you go! ;)
 
Alright then...where did we leave off? Oh, yeah. My inspiration to become a Marine stemming from Disney movies! lol Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I honestly believe that's where the idea of breaking boundaries and living outside of conventional, societal norms was first introduced. In many ways, I still identify with the "concept" of Mulan. You take a privileged, adolescent girl with big dreams, put her in a tradition-oriented society, and voila--you've got Talia to a "T." :) But that's another story altogether...
 
Of course, I couldn't have articulated all this back then. But looking back, I can see how the "seeds of revolution were planted." I'll have you know, I still work out to the song "I'll Make a Man Out of You." :) 
 
I've always sensed that I would live a different life than that of my friends--or my parents for that matter. Much as I love and respect them, I've never been the type to abide by the "graduate-high-school-go-to-college-get-married-have-children" formula. I have big dreams. I have "high and lofty" ambitions as some would call them. And many of them may or may not come to fruition. The important thing, for me, is to be in the center of God's will...and that's where this story takes a bit of a turn.
 
Up until a few months ago, the idea of joining the Marine Corps was a purely self-centered goal. I would give four years to the service, gain some job-related experience, satisfy a childhood dream, and use the money from the GI bill to attend graduate school at Oxford. All of it sounded like a golden plan--until one quiet morning this past January. 
 
It wasn't a particularly eventful day. I was sitting in my room, doing my quiet time, when I felt the Holy Spirit undeniably whisper to me: "Talia," it said. "I want you to use your platform as an officer in the Marine Corps to spread the gospel. You have led such a privileged life, growing up in a Christian home, learning from Christian parents. It's time for you to share what you have learned with others. They say you have to want to be a Marine before anything else, but I want you to be a missionary before you ever want to be a Marine."
 
That was it. But I heard it--crystal clear. And it kinda scared me, because for anyone who has heard the Holy Spirit speak to them, it eventually clicks that the God of the universe has just spoken...to you.

And suddenly, the first part of Ezekiel 34:16 popped into my head. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick..."

To put it simply, it was if the Lord was asking me to do exactly what He promised to the people of Israel. To be that "shepherd figure," in a sense, to women who use the military (and especially the Marines) as an escape route, a means of affirmation, an attempt to resurrect purpose and respect...  
 
Call it the spiritual strangest encounter I have ever had, but immediately, I felt an incredible sense of peace and security wash over me. It was as if something confirmed, deep down in my spirit, that this was not only something I had been called to do, but something I had been prepared to do all my life. And I knew then, as I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what challenges or difficulties lie ahead, I am never alone; for Christ is my Captain, and where He leads, He also provides. Even if it's not easy. Even if it breaks me in the process. I know I have been called to serve (both physically and spiritually) in the military, and that assurance is what gives me the boldness to face any obstacle/criticism/fear the Enemy throws my way.  
 
 But it gets better...      
 
Two hours after that encounter, I called a friend of mine to see if we were meeting for lunch. After exchanging pleasantries for a few minutes, she said she had had the oddest vision about me the night before. "It was weird," she prefaced, "but I started thinking about how strong you are and how disciplined and structured your life has been up to this point. And I started wondering, 'what is she hoping the Marine Corps will give her that she doesn't have already?' And then the thought came to me: maybe the Lord is putting you in this position to share the gospel with people who really need to hear it."
 
To share the gospel...now where had I heard that before?
 
I don't know how you guys make life-altering decisions, but by this point, I was shaking. I mean, to have someone confirm what I felt the Lord had spoken to me two hours earlier?  But it gets better. ;)
 
It's hard to explain how God speaks to you. After all, we're not exactly privy to big, thunderous voices from the sky. But confirmation, I'm finding, is manifest in the little things. Things I read in the Word. The peace I experience each time I step into my recruiter's office. Even when I'm running ridiculously exhaustive PT drills with other candidates, I know that this is where I belong. There's no guarantee I'll get selected into Officer Candidate School or even make it through to graduation. There is a 2/3 drop out rate for women. But I know, like I know, like I know, like I know that the Lord is in this, and I'm walking by faith--as if it's already happened.
 
There will always be those who look at my decision and question my motives, my reason, my judgment, my spiritual attuned-ness. ;) After all, this could potentially blow up in my face and then where will I be? Don't I have any idea what I'm getting into? Have I read the news lately? Don't I know that a disconcerting percentage of women in the armed forced have been verbally or sexually harassed?
 
Of course I know all those things, some of them in grisly, grimy detail. But then I ask: where would David be if God hadn't delivered Goliath into his hand? Where would Elijah be if God hadn't rained down fire on the altar at Carmel?
 
Sometimes, you have to step out in faith and trust that God will show Himself faithful...before you see the evidence of your eyes. Because if you stay trapped in the security net of "if it's the Lord's will," then you'll never see Him move mountains!  
 
Like I said before, I know my decision isn't popular, nor was it particularly well-received by my parents and loved ones. But what can you do when you have God shouting in one ear and your support group whispering by comparison in the other? :)
 
This has been an inexpressibly scary journey for me. It's required a lot of thought and prayer, time, and research. But ultimately, I'm confidant it's the right choice, and I look forward to seeing what God will do in and through me.
 
You never know how little steps mount up to big ones. One minute you're watching Disney movies, the next you're shaking a veteran's hand...and the next you're signing papers that say things like "four years" and "active duty"! I never in a million years thought I would seriously be joining the Marine Corp. I never thought I would actually be in this position. But it's real. And it's happened.
 
And it feels like the culmination of everything I was ever meant to be.
 
One more things: the Marine Corps' motto is "semper fidelis," which means "always faithful." As I sit here typing out this blog post, I can't help but think how appropriate that phrase is. That the duty to which I am called requires trust and loyalty, both to my superiors and subordinates on Earth, but especially to my Father in Heaven.

Stay tuned to Part III.

Blessings,

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