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Boot Camp Experiences

Whether we volunteer or are drafted, boot camp is what it is and serves a purpose. Our Father knows what we need so much more fully than we do.

Military boots. Photo: Thinkstock.

Today’s guest blogger is Sarah Van Diest.

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes. (Psalm 119:71)

Our eldest son is in the Air Force and his younger brother is enduring Marine Corps boot camp as I write this. There is a natural rivalry between them already simply because they are brothers, but their affiliations with these two military branches have solidified it.

The Air Force is often called the princess of the military, while the Marines is where the jug-heads all go, or that’s what they each claim. Teasing and ribbing are necessary components to their relationship. One commonality they share, however, is boot camp.

Granted, the Marine Corps boot camp will be more strenuous and intense than that of the Air Force, but there are many similarities. They both have to go through the gas chamber, they both have to endure being pushed to their physical and psychological limits, and they both come out better men on the other side.

Sarah Van DiestAs a mom, even as their stepmom, it’s hard to watch them go from somewhat plump and care-free young men, to cheekbone-bearing thin and disciplined men of the military. The changes aren’t bad, in fact, they’re good. But I know the pain, struggle and testing they represent. I know the hardship these precious young men have endured to become changed.

And to further this thought, they have also learned the importance of a new law in their lives: the law of the military. Obeying the law in the chain of command may be the thing that saves their lives or the lives of others someday. In their previous lives they had no need and no real respect for this law.

My comparison with this verse in Psalms is obvious, so much so I hardly need to mention it. We know, of course, that our Father intends to use all things together for our good. Likewise, the military intends to make my stepsons into good men for their purpose, but I think the thing that blindsides us is that we don’t expect the trials.

Unlike the military where the reputation of boot camp is well known, we don’t schedule our trials, they don’t come with a commanding officer telling us what to do, and they don’t have a set end date. And on top of that, unlike my boys who volunteered to join the military, we don’t typically volunteer to go through hell just for the fun of it. It comes to us.

It doesn’t really matter though. Whether we volunteer or are drafted, boot camp is what it is and serves a purpose. Our Father knows what we need so much more fully than we do. And as we trust Him through trials, as we endure them with Him, He will change us.


Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both an editor and agent. Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.

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