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Why Not You

Wednesday I had a phone call informing me that I had been nominated to receive a quilt from Quilts of Valor. The lady asked if I could attend the award ceremony on Saturday. First inclination was to say NO.

I mean why me? My dentist recently gave me a book titled “Why Me?” I haven’t read it yet. I’m sure it is going to make me more aware of how important good dental hygiene is. When she gave me the book it took me back to when I was working at Walter Reed Army Hospital in DC.

One of my fellow Chaplains titled his dissertation, “Why Not Me?” We had a lot of discussions about this. Back then we were working with folks who had come down with cancer, lost limbs to IEDs, had various diseases, TBIs, and other war related injuries. We heard many variations of, “Why Me?”

I didn’t say no. I accepted. I thought, “Why Not?”

I don’t have a heroic story about how I was injured in Afghanistan. No “Purple Heart” award was given to me. My tour in Iraq was uneventful. I was a  Chaplain.

To me it was plain and simple. Listen to stories, bear witness to life, encourage, pray and weep (with or in private). I also did my best to teach, coach, mentor and inspire. It’s what all Army Chaplains are empowered to do.

Sometimes I was good at my job. Sometimes I was awful. (Funny side story: a Soldier who I admire to this day said to me in Afghanistan, “Sir, you are scary when you are mad.”) Sometimes I did not have a clue what I was doing. Sometimes I actually trusted in God, listened to the voice of the Holy Ghost and did ministry.

I’m telling y’all this because I would never have thought I was valorous. One of my oldest friends attended the ceremony. Afterwards we were talking and he said, “You know, valor is giving without expecting anything in return.”

There are times that I have acted without expectation. There are times that I have acted thinking about the reward or consequence. There are times when I acted hoping someone would actually see what I was doing. There were also a few times when I did the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do.

I can’t go back and change the past. I’m not yet in the future. I am here and now.

Right now I am thankful for that quilt that is draped over the back of my couch. (When you get down here to Florida, schedule a visit, see some of my art, listen to a song and check out the Quilt Of Valor that those generous ladies gave me.) It was a little nerve racking sitting there in front of people listening to someone say nice and kind things about me. I would have been more comfortable being told all the times I screwed it up.

And that is the point: sometimes we need to hear that we did something right. We need to have someone recognize us. We need to be encouraged.

Life is hard. Ain’t none of us perfect. Everyone has problems.

It’s so easy to focus on what divides us. It’s easy to see fault and place blame. Right now it has almost become the American way to criticize someone.

What if we did the opposite? What if we intentionally pointed out the good stuff in each others life? What if we went out of our way to encourage one another?

That’s what I’m gonna do. I am gonna go the extra mile to extend love. I am going to do all I can to encourage someone in every way possible. I am going to point out the good.

I hope Vet Church is known as a group of folks who believe that people have worth and value. A group of people with eternal perspective. A group who are obsessed with loving and encouraging others.

Join me. Let’s change the world. Let’s make a difference.

1 Comment

Coffee Grounds
Coffee Grounds
Mar 19, 2023

Matt, Terry has a quilt also❤️.

Thank you for your thoughts on criticism and praise, they sank deep and are stewing for a bit. I’ve been listening to a book this week by Rachel Held Evans SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY. She is adding to my stew. It’s good to listen, ruminate and come out on the other side with deeper understanding 😊🌞🚴

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