Come back better.
This phrase takes on new meaning as I make the solitary stroll down the concourse away from my wife and little boy for the next nine months.
I will come back better. These next nine months won’t merely be measured by the passing of time. Time is non-recoverable currency. I demand from myself an increased ‘return on investment’ based on the price that is paid and the cost to those dearest to me. How will I come back better for Katherine, Gabe, myself, and our family as a whole? They deserve it. They are paying this price with me.
Deployment pays well. However, it would be wasteful for my biggest takeaway to merely be storing away extra money in our savings account. Financial health is a minor factor in what it means for me to “come back better.” For me, a bank account is a poor substitute for family and loved ones. Coming back better is about them. How can I come back better as a husband and father for them…for our family?
Some may say, “You don’t have to worry about coming back better. The comprehensive experience of the sacrifice is enough to make you better.” Agreed. I will come back as a better Soldier and Chaplain – a residual effect from the caliber of Soldiers with whom I deploy, as well as the training so far received and the day-to-day improvement of my craft overseas.
However, I’m looking to learn a unique lesson or develop a new skill or habit that will mold me, dare I say transform me on a comprehensive and transcendent level. Therefore, this “come back better” idea must be better than a “do more” bucket list or checklist that I accomplish on my own as some existential ‘show-and-tell.’
Ultimately, “coming back better” requires aspiring to something “better” and more durable than what is currently organic to me. This ‘something better’ will mold for the long haul. For me, that ‘something better’ is a someone Who is eternal; Who calls and equips us to be our best.
As Patrick Henry stated in the early years of the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” I relate these words to today. But I know something that perhaps Mr. Henry didn’t; God has built us for moments such as these. God has engineered us to rise to the challenge. While these moments may be met and overcome alone, we are even “better” when we meet these moments together with God. “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:13 MSG
This is the first step of my “come back better” plan.