It's 3 a.m., and I'm violently awakened by yelling and bright lights. I jump from my bed, disoriented, disheveled and frantically try to get dressed.
“Move it, move it, move it!”
I crash down the stairs and bolt into the dark; no time for personal hygiene, no time to even lace my boots. Panting and out of breath from adrenaline and fright, I file into formation and doubts immediately flash across my mind- “What in the world have I done?”
Day 1 of basic training.
I’m eighteen years old, the first time I’ve ever been away from home and I know no one.
From the looks of things, I am the smallest in formation (4'11 @ 85 pounds), probably the weakest and I draw immediate attention from the Drill Instructors which bring in-your-face screaming, criticisms, and spirit-breaking.
So begins seven memorable weeks that prove to be the most challenging and life-altering weeks of my young life. Days that were filled with physical and mental exhaustion, deprivation, anxiety, fear, homesickness, depression, and self-doubts.
It is during this time that I learned the importance of having the right mindset. (Without the right frame of mind success is not possible.)
In order to accomplish this, I recite Philippians 4:6-7:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Boy, did I wear this prayer out!
Anxiety was a daily condition, prayer was a necessity and having peace and courage were critical to thrive. When fear of failure became almost paralyzing, when I didn’t think I could run another step or when faced with what I believed to be an insurmountable obstacle, I would whisper this rendition, "Do not worry Noelle, ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart and He will provide."
Every single time, God answered and God provided.
No matter the situation- no matter the request.
There have been many other times since basic training that fear and trepidation have reared their ugly heads: moving alone to Fairbanks, Alaska at the age of 18, transitioning to civilian life with no job prospects, and dealing with my daughter's deployment to Afghanistan and her resulting injury. Each time, I still flourished.
By “getting my mind right.”
"You have power over your mind- not outside events.
Realize this, and you will find strength."
God knows that there is power in our thoughts and that they can hinder, derail, paralyze or destroy us if we let them.
Or when used the correct way they can empower and sustain!
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE—if anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." ~ Philippians 4:8-9
I've come a long way from the tiny airman that wasn't sure she could survive basic training and I've learned that having the right mindset (a mind that is aligned with the Creator of the Universe) gives the strength and peace needed to face anything! No situation too dire or fear too great!
The key is to PRACTICE this exercise daily. It is so easy to forget and revert back to our natural way of thinking, especially when the unnerving and unexpected catches us by surprise! This happened to me recently and without thinking I gave a friend some bad advice. I told them "don't worry until it's time to worry."
There is never a good time to worry.
Instead, we need to remember to align our mind with God through prayer and thanksgiving and allow peace to follow.
Get your mind right & God will do the rest.
Father, thank you that we can face the challenges of this life without anxiety, worry or fear. Knowing that you are trustworthy and that when we come to you with our prayers and petitions, with thankfulness in our hearts, you will hear us and grant us your peace and strength. Help us to renew our minds with thoughts that are admirable and praiseworthy, so that we may always have the right mindset to face any situation.
"And to be renewed in the spirit of your mind." ~Ephesians 4:23