There has been a lot going on over the last 5 years and even more over the last 12 years since I got hurt. The kids are growing up and next year the oldest is heading off to college. As a family we have had a lot of fun, worked though a bunch of hard times and made a lot of memories. While doing all of this I have been learning how to deal with growing nightmares and PTSD related to the fire accident and the recovery from it.
This last summer we had more fire than usual in the western states, meaning I was away from home more than usual. I love working on an incident management team because I am able to be myself and use the gifts God gave me to serve others during some of the hardest times of their lives. What made this summer unique is that I was in a season of life where I was broken and hopeless. I wasn’t sure how I got there and I was desperately looking for a way to get out. Little did I know, this fire season was what I needed. I needed to “find my song”.
Back in high school I was at a retreat and the speaker talked about “your song”; the thing in each of us that makes us tick, the thing that makes each of us different, the song that tells the story of what God is doing in and through each of us. I remember saying to myself “that’s cute”, and am pretty sure I never thought about it again until this summer. One night in central Montana this summer, I was evaluating life while gazing at the stars with all their brilliant beauty while the entire western horizon was glowing red with fire. As I lay in the back of my pickup watching the stars it started to make sense. As I laid there I realized I not only stopped singing my song, I put it in a box and lost it.
What I realized is that I lost my song because I started listening to a group of people around me without questioning if their input was valid. They picked apart my podcast list, the music that spoke to me, mentors in my life, my life experiences, the books I was reading and even what I was learning in my personal Bible studies. Looking back I realized it was easier to stop listening and reading what I needed than fielding all the personal opinions of those around me. The natural progression was then to give up who I was for the same reason. The end result is “I lost my song”.
It wasn’t until the long summer out in Montana, where I got to be me without this group’s influence, that I found my song again. I had given up who I was for a group of people who are willing to naively sacrifice others for their own dreams, a group of people that asked me for my help, but really wanted me to do what they wanted at my expense, people who are impatient and willing to take every shortcut to get to where they want to go. I did this because they asked for my help and their dreams were and are the same as many of mine. But unlike working on a fire team, they are unwilling or incapable of working as a team, a team with mutual respect, a team worried about each other before yourself, a team that realizes that you don’t sacrifice another for personal gain, but you sacrifice together to save lives.
I am not laying blame on these people for what happened, it was me that gave up who I was for them. It has been a hard lesson to learn. Most lessons have a sting to them. Like most lessons, however; it has been rewarding to see what happens when you live them out. A good friend unexpectedly passed away this last weekend and is the reason for this blog entry. Because I learned this lesson, we got to spend some much needed time together before he passed away. He and I talked about spending time together for four years but could never seem to make it happen because both of us were guilty of putting other people’s agendas before our call. Fortunately we were granted the chance to spend some great days in the boat together, gaining insight and wisdom that I would have lost if I hadn’t learned this lesson. Don’t give up who God made you to be for other people. It is hard to live with purpose when you give up who you are. It is impossible to go where God called you if you get off the road because of everyone’s personal opinions. So what is your song, your story and your call? Don’t be hindered by others, sing it, tell it and share it without apology.
Outdoorsman, Producer, Firefighter & Public Speaker