In January 2016 I was deployed to Kuwait with the United States Air Force Reserve. This was one of the most challenging times of my life. I was so far from my family and friends. I also was unsuccessful at finding a job in the United States.
I worked the night shift while I was deployed which meant I worked during the day in the United States. Kuwait City was seven hours ahead of Michigan so every night my dad would stay up late to Facetime with me.
Around the last month of my deployment a lot of the individuals that I worked with were so excited that our deployment was coming to an end. Air Force members that were enrolled in college were going to resume their college education, husbands were excited to reunite with their wives, and some members were looking forward to seeing their children. I was happy to leave but I felt I had nothing to go back to. I didn’t have pets, children, or a girlfriend to come back to. Before I left, I moved out of my apartment and put all my belongings in storage. I didn’t even have a home to go back to. I was applying to jobs but they all fell through.
That day I remember Facetiming my dad and he asked how I was doing. I remember pausing because I felt so frustrated. I began crying because everyone that was deployed was going back to their lives. Individuals were going back to their homes, wives, children, sororities, and husbands. At the time I felt afraid because I didn’t know what was going to happen after my deployment. I felt like I wasn’t going back to anything. I didn’t have my own place to live at and the job that I had, I didn’t want to go back to.
I cried to my father. My dad listened and encouraged me. He reminded me how far I’ve come since I’ve been independent. He told me that I would be okay. My father reminded me how the Lord had been ordering my steps throughout my life. My dad really encouraged me that day.
Looking back on that conversation, it reminded me how the Lord used my dad to encourage me during challenging times in my life. The challenges became harder as I got older.
Some challenges my dad encouraged me with:
1. Not receiving awards- When I was in elementary school, I remember being upset that I didn’t receive any awards at school. I was angry that the same students would get all the awards and I didn’t receive anything. My dad told me that I would soon be recognized and eventually I would get so many awards that they wouldn’t mean anything. His words came true. Last year I was voted Employee of the Month at my job and I wasn’t really ecstatic about winning.
2. Understanding situations- I was 13 years old and an individual yelled at me. I was so angry because I didn’t understand why they yelled at me for such a small offense. My father knew the person’s situation well. He told me that men have to be in charge somewhere, especially if they aren’t in charge in their home. Understanding that situation gave me a peace that eliminated my anger.
3. Receiving what God has for me- I was in college and I joined a business that promoted being financially free. It was a business that I would have to recruit multiple people to sign up for the business. I joined the business because I wanted to have money work for me and to live a better quality of life. My dad didn’t agree to support me in this business venture. I became frustrated and angry because I really wanted to earn money that could benefit me and eventually the family I wanted. My father told me that if God wants you to have that type of money, he will make a way for you to have it. He told me going through this business is not the way. My dad was right. My mentors in the business eventually quit.
My dad is a great mentor, teacher, and man. I thank God that he has been there every step of my life, to encourage and support me. Thanks to the greatest dad, Ralph Douglas.
Chaz Douglas was a member of the United States Air Force Reserve. He graduate from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelors in Education and from Central Michigan University with a Masters in Educational Leadership. He is the author of the devotional series Walking Daily with the Lord.