An open letter: To whom it may concern

To whom it may concern:

I am a mother fucking warrior. Too much? Too bad. It’s true, I am a mother fucking warrior. I am also compassionate. I was given the gift of mercy at a very young age. When I was a kid I thought it was the worst curse ever. You see, I grew up in a family of seven very independent children and two strong loving parents. There’s a certain weakness that I associated with mercy. I saw their strengths and their stoic nature beneath pressure and I longed for it. I was jealous of all of them. Their skin was rhinoceros thick and I was like a little June bug just waiting to be smashed beneath the weight of their daggered sarcasm.

I graduated high school at an early age after just 2.5 years. Although it’s worth noting that I had to wait the last half of that third year, filling it with work and extracurricular college courses, before I could walk the graduate walk. That’s when I began to work three jobs in order to support my newly proclaimed adult lifestyle at the age of 16. The metamorphosis definitely began then. I was too naive to see it but that’s definitely when it began. In the process of getting back-and-forth from all these jobs and my community college, where I was obtaining my AA in psychology, I found that it was difficult to maneuver as a 16-year-old on a permission slip from your family. Knowing that I was going to have to step up or shut up I requested from my parents to be emancipated. Now, most people associate emancipation with some sort of negativity. There is absolutely no hidden or underlying context here. I strictly requested emancipation so that I could begin the new chapter of my life that I felt suited for. I was a woman before my time. Knowing that there was nothing personal attached, and that the sole purpose was to gain professional freedoms, my parents agreed and graciously signed the emancipation request. I mailed in the paperwork with proof of my employment and housing and within weeks California just gave me custody of myself. In hindsight I realize that someone should have at least made eye contact with me. After all, we can say or write anything, but it’s the sum of our actions that prevail. Very shortly after being emancipated by the courts I found a gracious (or equally naïve elderly woman) who was willing to rent me her duplex. This is where I would spend the remainder of my civilian days as a teenager. Looking back now I realize how few apartments I stayed in throughout my life. It never struck me as odd until this week. *Below are some of the many duplex I have lived in over the years*

One night, while working the graveyard shift on one of my many jobs, God would see fit to intervene in my life in the form of a man named John McLough. John and I had worked together for a few months and had gained a certain kind of comfortability so when he came into work and requested that I attend his recruiter meeting with him to make sure that he was getting a square deal I was more than happy to oblige. Little did I know that while he was taking his test the excitement of travel and getting out of that tiny town would sweep over me. *As a side note I’d see John again in Iraq of all places. It’s a small military after all.*

* I intend to fill many of these holes this coming year/2017*

There’s no telling what brought me to the military, save for the absolute acknowledgment that it must’ve been God. As with everything else in my life I acted with impulse. Gut checked certainty. If I’ve learned anything in my few years on this earth it’s that my gut never leads me in the wrong direction. I just have to listen and stick to it. Instinctually certain I signed the paperwork, for what would change my life forever, in just a matter of moments. Everything after that was a whirlwind. I had breakfast with my parents and told them about the decision I had made. Their shock was palpable. Everyone questioned me. Everyone. No one thought I could make it through the grueling processes of the military, nevermind boot camp. It wasn’t because people thought I wasn’t strong enough. It wasn’t because people thought I wasn’t smart enough. My heart was the problem!! It’s because people thought I was too kind. Too kind??!! I don’t know how often I heard the words, “You smile too much.” The recruiters office even started a jar where they would put money in it every time I couldn’t go longer than 10 minutes without smiling. That jar was always brimming. Much like my smile. In Boot Camp my joy would prove to be both a blessing and a detriment. But wouldn’t you know it, I made it out just fine.

Immediately after leaving Boot Camp I started assuming leadership positions in the military. I got to work trauma and then emergency room overseas where I was exposed to hands-on training that doctors and physicians stateside can only dream of after years of their education. Because of that training I was indoctrinated into the green side of the house/marine corps which would take me to the middle of Iraq in the early and most formidable years. That’s where I would learn lessons about how to balance my mercy with my strength. I have no doubt that the training in this balance has and will  save my life time and time again and I owe that virtue honing to the military.

Up until Iraq the undertone was always the same with me. My mercy too strong. My compassion to forgiving. Everyone I met was certain that I would never be; strong enough, brave enough, or bold enough. But that just fueled me. That set my spirit on fire with something that it absolutely needed because in resistance I find my strength. As with all alphas, when you tell us “we can’t” it just  propels us to find the solution  to prove that we can. And I can.

Somehow, despite all of this growth and time, people still confuse my mercy with weakness. Although I have gone through the metaphorical change it’s not visible so people take it for granted. People see my mercy and think that I can be manipulated. People see my kindness and believe that I am weak. People see my compassion and believe that I cannot stand firm. People see my love and believe that it is a weakness that I will always succumb too. But people are wrong.

My mercy gives me the roots to show you grace but not be moved. My kindness gives me the strength to forgive you and accept you even at your worst. When I see you hurting and when I see you lacking it is my compassion that draws me close enough to reach you.

And my love. Oh, my love. My love is so agape I have yet to meet anyone with the same standard. But it is NOT the chink in my armor. It is not what brings me pause. My love is what helps me to hold you accountable. To hold myself accountable. My love for you is what helps me to know that the best choice I can make for you is to always be available as a resource but not as your steppingstone. All of these things combined; my mercy, my compassion, my kindness and love are a compilation of what makes me me. And all of these things together are why I’m still in your life. Not because I’m weak. Not because I’m too blind to see you for who you truly are or how you truly behave but because I have a type of agape that people just haven’t experienced yet and that agape leaves me room to have faith and hope in you.

I have fought many battles in my life. Battles against ex-husband’s, battles against drugs, battles against people and places that you feel like are only in the movies. I have fought many wars and lived many lives. And I’m nowhere near the end of them all. But what I have learned above all, what has been made so exceptionally transparent to me, is that agape will ALWAYS prevail if you can remain patient and steadfast. That and……
I am a motherfucking warrior.

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As always I look forward to hearing your feedback. Feel free to email me at ariel@searchingnotlost.com. Like, comment, follow and share the blog so that we can all journey together. Additionally I would love to see your photos of your most recent travel.

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