GERRY BARCLAY / HOPEFUL1
Years ago, I asked myself one pivotal question; “What do I want to do when I grow up?” To answer that question, I was guided by one of my favourite quotes from Howard Thurman. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” So, in order to answer that one burning question – what makes me come alive? Well, that one was easy. I love helping people whether it’s through practical assistance or just shutting up and listening when that’s all that is needed.
So this epiphany leads me to return to college after a 15-year absence and study to become a paramedic. I loved that job, not only did it provide me with an adrenaline rush, but I was always in a position where I could help. After a couple of years of that, I took what some would call a bit of a detour and I rejoined the Canadian Army, this time as a Medic. Of course, being in the Army, one is expected to go where one is told, and I was told to go to Afghanistan. If you’ve ever watched the Wizard of Oz, you’ll recall when Dorothy leaves Kansas and lands in Oz. She looks around and then down to Toto and says, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” This expression aptly communicated the feeling that many of us felt when the back door of that Dutch transport aircraft dropped to the ground and we walked on Afghan soil for the first time. My tour of duty in Afghanistan was both exhilarating and exhausting, usually at the same time. The tempo was unlike anything back here and once again I had many amazing opportunities to help people when they were at their worst.
This came at a price, and that price for me is PTSD. Yes, I have PTSD, but I like to think that PTSD doesn’t have me, nor will I let it. These experiences proved to me that when faced with despair, hope is incredibly powerful. Not only at the moment where hope seems to be scant, but in the memories of those events, such as can be experienced with PTSD.
Now armed with this empirical knowledge, I now consider it my mission to spread the message of hope and freedom that comes from knowing the giver of all hope, Jesus.
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