Joyce McAllister joined the United States Army in hopes of becoming a less sensitive person and to be able to help others in need. She was one whose feelings were easily hurt. Things that did not bother most people could make Joyce break down and cry. This generally ruined her day making those around her have equally bad days as well.
As a youth, Joyce would often cry when she received a less than average grade in school; having to sit by herself isolated when she was in trouble or told someone did not like her. At times, Joyce would try to neutralize being hurt by comforting someone else who was hurting. Most of the time, this did not work for Joyce so maybe the Army would help.
During Basic Training, Joyce went through one of her hurtful periods when she felt as though Drill Sergeant Michelle Collins seemed to have it in for her. Nothing she ever did for Drill Sergeant Collins was right—push-ups, marching, making a bunk. Nothing!
At the end of the third week of training, Joyce had her same feelings for Drill Sergeant Collins when another Private in training sat on the bunk across from her staring at a letter she had just received. As she read the letter, Joyce noticed that she was struggling not to cry. Joyce then stood up with a brown Army issue handkerchief to wipe her eyes.
“Can I help you? As there anything I can do for you?” she asked in a low soothing tone of voice.
“I don’t know. Thank you for asking,” she responded. “I got this letter from home telling me one of my best friends got kill in a motorcycle accident a week ago. Just before I left for Basic Training we had this big fight over a guy. We said some pretty mean words to each other. I’m sure she didn’t mean what she said. I know I didn’t mean them. I thought when Basic Training was over I’d go home and make up with her. Now I’ll never be able to do that. Because I did not make up with her when I could have, I feel terrible!”
Although Joyce never talked to her barracks mate much over the training weeks, the two women sat down and just talked. They talked about the Drill Sergeants; where they grew up; their friends; their hopes for being able to marry; have children as well as why they both joined the Army.
When Drill Sergeant Collins came through the barracks to declare lights out on another training day, Joyce sincerely believed that this young soldier’s circumstance and life as well as her own were changed. Joyce’s new friend actually began to smile then responded: “You know what we talked about. I’m going to write my friend’s mom. I’m going to tell her what we talked about. I’m sure her mom could use some kind words after losing her daughter.”
I’ll never forget this. Thanks, you made me feel much better,” responded Joyce. “I’ve had so much with how people respond me throughout my whole life. I thought Drill Sergeant Collins hated me since I’ve been here. You explained what Drill Sergeant Collins is trying to do in such a great way as well as other people. Thank you!!!”
Though Joyce had been far away from home, missed her family and friends, she came to learn there is a balance between pain and suffering with healing had come about not just for her but also for another equally hurting person. By taking the initiative, another person’s day perhaps life had changed for the better. An added benefit is that she was able to see clearly events in her life were not as bad as she previously thought.
Being able to positively affect the lives of others in a Christianly manner is our daily calling if we are willing participants. That the good that we do in the Name of Christ, the acts of kindness and the encouragement of those around us will overcome the pain we and others inflict during life in the end.
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