The Courier

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When I was still in Edmonton, the chaplain team welcomed the arrival of a brand-new, never-before-used, straight-out-of-the-wrapper chaplain.  He hadn’t even been to basic yet!  (We were asked not to spoil it for him, but to let him discover the joys and wonder of it all for himself.)

And I had to admit, he impressed me (and I don’t impress easily – unless it’s shiny!) with his thoughtfulness, sense of humour, self-deprecation,

Padre (Major) Howard Rittenhouse – File Photo

and willingness to learn.  But I figured we’d soon break him of such bad habits.

I was taking him around the base – clothing stores, HQ, introducing him to the 3 Div chaplain – and went back to the chapel for lunch during which one of the chaplains regaled us with some moronic goings-on by a soldier.  Following this conversation, I remarked to the new padre, “Like I always say – people are stupid!”  

Now, I ask you, does that pithy observation strike you as cynical?  

Well, I guess it might.  As one of my Edmonton clerks innocently pronounced, “Imagine how cranky he’d be if he didn’t have Jesus in his life!”  I found that side-splittingly funny – and honest.  And I thanked her for it.

But she was right.  Over the course of my life, I admit that I’ve become a bit cynical, a bit jaded, a bit skeptical).  Life has a way of serving up great steaming piles of … stuff, and you just have to roll with it, deal with it, and move on.  

Of course, that’s easier to say when you aren’t neck deep in it.  Maybe it’s a posting that you dreaded and now you’re dealing with BGRS.  Maybe it’s the disintegration of your marriage (or second one).  Maybe it’s a medical diagnosis that’s putting your career – or your life – in jeopardy.  Maybe it’s issues with your kids, or with your spouse’s kids – blending families can be fiendishly difficult.  Maybe it’s concern and anxiety over aging parents whose health is fragile and you’re two, three, or four provinces away.

Whatever the pressure or stress – and perhaps there’s more than one – it’s making you that little bit more cynical, angry, scratchy, difficult to be around, and just plain bitter.  Other people don’t seem to have it quite as rough.  

It’s a matter of perspective.  As the old proverb says, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no legs.”  And I don’t mean to say what you may be experiencing is piddling, but you can usually find someone else whose load is far greater than yours.  Nonetheless, the load you carry is a burden, and after miles it feels even heavier, and there seems to be no end in sight, so it will just get heavier still.  

Let me encourage you: you don’t have to carry it alone.  Lean on your family, on your mates, on the supports in the CAF (MH, SW, CFMAP, MFRC, and other acronyms).  We need to share each other’s burdens, and not walk the road alone.  No one should have to carry the weight alone.  If you don’t know where to turn, call me.  

Finally, you have a choice in how you respond to life’s little gifts: with resilience and resolve, or with bitterness and cynicism.  Choose the former.  

After all, you don’t want to end up like me, do you?

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