In this week’s Monday Minute Kristin continues our discussion of flourishing in transitions with what she learned about taking off the uniform at the end of her service in the Navy.
4 Steps to Flourish when Taking Off the Uniform
by Kristin Goodrich
Twice during my Naval Service, I took off a set of uniforms for the final time. And that finality still triggers a range of emotions to this day.
For my first four years, I wore the uniforms of a Naval Academy midshipman. On the day I threw my cover in the air, half of my seabag was no longer useful.
The midshipman uniforms – dungarees for training, dress uniforms for drill, white works which we wore over PT gear, and more all landed somewhere. I thought I had either donated or discarded all those uniforms.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4 ESV)
Imagine my surprise when I found some of those long-forgotten uniforms in a box my dad gave me after my mom passed away!
Imagine their horror when I showed my young adult kids a pair of “original” granny-panties!
We had fun as I tried on the various uniforms. I could only button the choker collar of the drill jacket. The white works jumper and bell-bottomed pants did fit, much to my delight. And to my kids’ everlasting relief, I didn’t try on the granny-panties.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. (Psalm 145:5 ESV)
Taking Off the Uniform
Since I took off my military uniform, a dusty Ziploc bag holds insignia, ribbons, and medals, as well as the dog tags with my maiden name. As I touch each item, I reflect and meditate on my military experiences.
I remember being at noon meal formation the day the Challenger shuttle exploded. I can tell of learning about the Soviet fleet and then watching the Berlin Wall fall. And many military friends have heard my “green t-shirt” story during which I was desperate to return to Panama, in the proper uniform, prior to Operation Just Cause in 1989.
They [the generations] shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness. (Psalm 145:6 ESV)
My time in service, represented by those uniforms and additional gear, is a narrative of sea stories—funny, heartbreaking, complex, and heartwarming.
Recently, I’ve been challenged by the Holy Spirit to share these sea stories in ways that speak of God’s awesome deeds in each of those military situations.
How to Flourish in Transition: Taking Off the Uniform
- Thank Jesus. Look at your military experiences and thank Jesus for what you learned in the struggles and accomplishments.
- See God’s Presence. Challenge yourself to see how God was ever-present across the miles and across the years.
- Tell Others. Share your stories with the next generations.
- Glorify God. Make the Lord the HERO in your life story – during and after your time in uniform!
Lord Jesus, we eagerly anticipate the day when we can share our sea stories with you in heaven! Guard the minds and souls of women currently wearing a military uniform. Encourage and strengthen those who have taken off their uniforms, whether by choice or by circumstance. Show us how you have been at work in our lives and how we might redeem our stories for your glory. Amen.
Verses to Ponder
At the start of my military service, Psalm 139 quickly became a favorite chapter in the Bible.
When I was seasick during a North Atlantic storm and when I could feel the presence of evil in the jungles of Panama:
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:9-12, ESV)
As loved ones have continued to serve in sandboxes around the world, the Lord is always mindful of us:
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. (Psalm 139:17-18a, ESV)
And for every situation in uniform … and every situation after we take off the uniform, God will lead us as followers of Jesus on the ultimate PCS journey:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24, ESV)
Thanks be to God for the privilege of wearing the military uniform, and for the responsibility to tell of His faithfulness across the generations!