I watched a series on youtube about how Navy Sailors become Navy Seals. It's crazy! Each class starts out with about 200 men and ends up graduating about a dozen or so Seals at the end of 6 months of training. It is brutal! In this series there was one guy who made it the whole way through that I was really effected by. He always seemed to have a smile on his face and made jokes (and often got the worst of it because of his comments). But he just had this great attitude--"throw everything you've got at me. I may only get one shot at this and I am going to have the time of my life going for the prize to be a Seal. The only way you'll stop me is if you kill me!"
I would never have picked this guy to make it. He was a jokester and a bit of a clown and yet he was tough as nails and never, ever cut corners. He was "squared away" as they say. He had a rock-solid core and nothing could shake him. He was such a very odd combination of resolve and relaxation.
After watching this series and seeing this guy make it through I thought, "I want to be that guy." I want to be able to maintain a good attitude, keep a sense of humor and at the same time have unshakeable core that allows me to do what others might think impossible. Strange how God could use a video series totally unrelated to my life to give me encouragement and a life lesson.
One of the things that I noticed about the training and about this guy is that after the shock and awe of any new experience wears off then it's just about sucking it up and going for it. One of the exercises they made these guys do was to haul around a ridiculously heavy pole about 12 feet long and 18 inches in diameter that had been soaking in ocean water. I have no idea what it weighed but it was hundreds of pounds. Teams were assigned (about 10 to a team) and these guys had to haul that pole up sand hills and down sand hills and take it for runs in the surf and almost anything else you can imagine doing with a massive pole. It was their task, their assignment, their burden and ever present.
After they picked it up for the first time you could see some of the guys wilt, "This is too much to bear." And a lot of those guys rang the bell, left their helmet on the sidewalk and left the program. But this guy, who I came to admire, took the attitude, "This is our pole, and it ain't going to get any heavier. So if I can lift it today I can lift it tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. It's just a heavy pole."
Man, if I could have that guys attitude! I think some of it is in-born and some of it is a gift. In all humility I think I have some of that in-born attitude (nature)--kind of that "bring it on mentality." I am pretty level headed and pretty creative about how to do the best I can with what is available. I also think some of it was how I was brought up (nurture). I have an ability to cope with some weirdness
So why am I telling you this? Joanne says she feels like a burden, and she feels like I bear the weight of that burden. But here's the truth: on January 11, 2011, I made a choice. I told God, "However this turns out, I will take care of Joanne." I literally prayed that. Maybe the most simple prayer I have ever prayed. But that was it. And I meant it with every fiber of my being.
So now we have certain challenges as a family and I have certain responsibilities but, much like that soon-to-be Seal I can say, "This is my pole. I can lift it today and I can lift it tomorrow and if they ask me to lift it every day for the rest of my life, I'll lift it." But what I want today, a mean really long for, is the ability to do what I have to do with a smile on my face, and a little chuckle just under the surface. I want to go into situations with Joanne or the girls and think, "This is crazy! Oh well, bring it on and let's see if we can have some fun with it!"
And I want that because those are the guys that make it in the long run! The ones that try to "man up" and take everything so seriously and draw from a place of their own personal toughness? A lot of them washed out because one day that "toughness" didn't show up.
Here's another lesson: the guy who made it? He complained. When something was hard he would call it what it was. Actually some of the humor of the show was just listening to this guy talk about how horrible everything was! He didn't try to sugar coat it and make the hard stuff any less hard. He would say, "That was terrible! I can't believe we had to do that. But we did it so what's next?" This made me realize that it is OK for me to be honest with close friends and family about how hard some of these daily challenges really are. Doesn't mean I can't or won't rise to the occasion. I know I can do that. But I don't always have to put a big yellow smiley-face on everything too.
So that's my goal, my mission: to be that Navy Seal who looks adversity in the eye with a little smile on his face and says, "It's just a pole. This is going to be hard. What's next?"