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March Chaplain's Reflections

Maj. Christina Pittman portrait

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christina Pittman, the wing chaplain assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C, October 31, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

No matter what life throws at us, we hope we can find the perspective and ability to overcome obstacles. There are many self-help books and resources on living a full and meaningful life. Using resources that assist with life coaching can be very helpful, especially if applied consistently. What happens, though, when not enough self-care and tools can overcome our valleys of struggle and sometimes despair? There is another source of strength which comes from faith and a spiritual perspective of living in light of eternity.

When my kids were little they used to watch the Disney movie, “Toy Story.” I believe they watched all of them at least a dozen times. I remember catching bits and pieces of the movies while working around the house or cooking, and occasionally with them on the couch. One character which stands out in my mind is Buzz Lightyear. At the approach of his launch to a new adventure, he says, “To infinity and beyond!” This phrase sums up his optimistic enthusiasm and courage to tackle whatever comes his way as he takes off into some less than safe missions. Despite his perilous flights, he faces them with a Cheshire grin while at the same time seeming blind to the impending dangers. At the end of one successful series of tricks and mid-air marvels, he sticks his landing and points to his doubting friend, Woody, and says, “Can!”

Just as with Buzz, I believe a view of an eternal goal helps us look past our trails to God, love, hope, and purpose. To some reading this article, the concept I am referencing may look superficial. How can viewing life through the lenses of eternity help us? One example is found in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV) Fixing our eyes on our seen faults, stressors, or crisis can hold us captive to despair, hopelessness, or a fatalistic attitude.  The goal is to see past these detrimental feelings to a healthier and more resilient perspective spurring us on to a future hope in faith, a higher power, and a full and grace giving eternal life beyond the tragedies before us. 

Another example I can recall on perspective was from one of my shop visits last month. I encountered a maintenance Airman with an engine totally pulled apart and in hundreds of pieces. We talked about the tediousness of placing all these parts back together in a manner which preserves its functional integrity to make a jet fly. The Airman made reference on how he has at least three other sets of eyes to examine his work behind him. He mentioned the various skill levels he calls on saying, “No matter if you are fresh out of tech school, I am going to ask you to check my work.” This process helps bring accountability and accuracy to the end product. I liken this concept to life and how bringing in other perspectives, like eternity and hope, can help us be true to the integrity of our purpose. We can then focus on what is unseen and not just what we can see in our life struggles. Like Buzz Lightyear, viewing a perilous obstacle with the eternal perspective of “I can” helps us journey with an empowering end in mind.

A thought of purpose in life does not just stop with us. There is another greater journey to an end which is unknown but working toward our greater good no matter where we may find ourselves in our current situations. As spring approaches, what are some faith and renewing perspectives you will take part in? For some, a season of Lent can help transform us to an eternal perspective. The Chaplain Corps will offer an Ashe Wednesday service mid-day on, March 6 for a third year. Lent is an intentional practice with the goal of gaining a greater sense of where God is at work in a person’s life. The act of fasting during Lent, leading up to Easter, can help gain a greater perspective of our inner weakness, faults, strength and attributes while working out our faith.

Let us all be encouraged with hope in the eternal and not the temporal things of this life. Choose a positive perspective such as eternal rescue from suffering and stir away from the mindset of captivity which befalls a day like the Ides of March 15. You are worth the effort to have support and share your struggles with another to gain a healthy perspective. No one is meant to be an island, so reach out and let others in as together life is made less burdensome by focusing on a hope-filled eternity.

If you desire more information or support on spiritual resiliency or religious provisions, please call the SCANG Chaplain Corps office at 803-647-8265. We look forward to serving you!