Friday, June 5, 2009

Fear and Loathing In San Diego

Cameron says...

I am fighting the urge to reenlist in the Marine Corps. Fighting. With swords. The enemy has brought the fight to me, so to speak. Where I once thought I owned the ground of surety in our decision to exit military service, I find myself fearing financial disaster. I find myself weighing whether the reality of the situation I fear would be worse than the disappointment of committing to the military for another four years.

It would be just that--a disappointment. I have looked forward to October 7, 2009 for a long time because the military is not what I want to do with my life, and to throw away the chance to pursue something fulfilling just for a little money would be a travesty. The prospect fills my mind with darkness. Yet at times, I feel my mind knotting with fear and longing for an anchor, though it would be a shallow water indeed where I would find my moorings as Sgt Smith until 2013 or beyond.

In these moments of temptation, when I cradle my 8-day-old son in my arms knowing he trusts me implicitly with his life, as do my other two children and my good wife, I feel a sheepishness for having dreams in the first place. Even though the living I could make in the military would be cut in half with Emily not working anymore, reenlisting is the surest way to have any income after October of this year and probably the only way to be able to continue paying rent or a mortgage in San Diego County--my indefinite sentencing ground. I feel as though my dreams are a hindrance to the security of my children. I feel as though the pursuit of a challenging long-term goal and a sense of fulfillment in my daily life is an irresponsible departure from the call to fill the needs of the here and now for four other human lives.

I try to realize that I can't see past October 7, 2009. God can see it, though, and He can see that although the interim may be messy, the rewards beyond that time for employing my gifts and ambitions in a righteous cause are manifold. He can see that many husbands and fathers have stood on this threshold before I have and settled for the sure thing rather than exacting a higher price for their labors in life. He can see that a door has been and always will be open to two roads in life—a tame one and a wild one. The tame road encounters little risk, requires little faith, and offers little reward. The majority of men opt to step through this door—sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of lack of ambition, and sometimes out of temporary necessity. There is no shame in walking this path. The man who reaches for security in order to labor diligently and with integrity all his life for the betterment of others is worthy of a crown of honor. But Cameron Smith is a pot of boiling acid with too much ambition and too much creativity to live a subdued life. In my mind, the sure thing in life is God. The sure thing is the oft-repeated promise, “Seek, and ye shall find.”

“Ask, and it shall be given.”

“Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

If I fear, it is because I lack faith. What would financial disaster bring? Hunger? Homelessness? Family separation? Death? Do I believe that there is a reward for faithfully enduring all of these things? If God should see fit to try me to these extents, I should suffer the trials cheerfully. Though I do not presume to know God’s plan in my life, I believe that if I am on his side, He is on my side. I believe that if I am doing my best to improve my lot in life, he will guide and prod my life into success, and as His definition of success for me unfolds, if I accept it, I will be happier than I could have ever been without His help.

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