What I learned one night.

It was the first day of survival training for a select group of military students who had been hand selected to participate, and had anxiously waited for this time.  What an honor to have the confidence of leaders who worked side by side for the past years observing who they felt “had what it takes.”

This year was no different than others with new arrivals jockeying for position.  Emotions ran high as minds raced observing new surroundings.  One could say these students had a little extra talent in gaining perspective quickly when presented in a fresh environment.

One man quickly stood out as not having the same energy as the rest; appearing subdued. Many began to think he didn’t carry the same interest in being selected as part of the group.  Each student was well aware of friends who desperately wanted to be there, yet weren’t selected.  It bothered them that there was someone occupying a spot when others would gladly be there and actively participate.

Innocent teasing began with this man oblivious to the taunting.  This created an atmosphere where the liveliness of unkind words heightened.  As the day finished each student retired to their assigned rooms.  The new roommate of the man who had been ruthlessly teased was not one who jumped into banter as a normal part of his character. He didn’t participate in any of the negative activities and quite frankly was unaware they happened at all.

Over the next days and weeks these two roommates began seeing more of each other during training and it became obvious to the new roommate that his partner was taking a lot of unnecessary mockery.  They hadn’t talked much about it in their time together, but tonight it was going to be a little different.

Hey, I can’t help but notice there are many throughout the day that treat you badly, I think it is because they feel you don’t want to be here?  No, that isn’t it at all, but I don’t want to talk about it if that is okay.  Sure.  The roommate who was teased then asked, There is something I want to ask you however, I overheard you talking with your mother, is everything okay in your home?

Not really, my father is dying of cancer and I can’t help but feel I would be better off home helping in some way.  No way, so why are you here?  Well, my father is a lifelong serviceman and insisted on me fulfilling this assignment.  He said that he didn’t want his life to interfere with mine.  I am having a very difficult time, but am honoring his desires. As a result I am giving this program my all so he will be proud of me.

Oh, do I ever understand what you are feeling.  Perhaps I will share with you why I appear so distracted or undecided about being here, but please don’t share with others what I tell you.  I won’t, and I do want to help.  Your father is sick, my father passed away just before I was to leave for our survival training.  His dying wish was that I complete my mission here, my heart is full, and perhaps I appear distracted, but I am totally committed.  As these words were spoken, the roommate listening intently ran over and gave his partner a big hug.  These two men cried openly together for quite awhile with each knowing there was someone who understood.

Unfortunately life doesn’t give us an opportunity to walk in others shoes, but we can have sympathy toward those who appear to be in need.  We often place inappropriate assumptions on relationships when we are unwilling to put others needs ahead of ours.

This is a true story with the surroundings changed to protect those involved.  I know the life of the person who learned of his roommate’s plight in these circumstances will be forever changed. Please never judge the outward appearance of an individual without first trying to gain a sense of where their heart is.  Let us all learn how vital understanding is in working together.  Think of those times you were in need, and how just one person made a difference.  You can be that same saving soul to another by showing you care.



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