I was depressed. I felt like I had let down everyone I knew in my life. I was a terrible person. I thought that killing myself would be easier than struggling through the life that I was living at the time.
I took a knife and slowly dragged it across my wrist. It hurt a little bit. But the hurt was too great. I mean, I already felt like I was a disappointment to my friends and my family. What would they say about me if I went through with this?
Just then, I heard an audible squeak from across the room. It was the sound of my pet guinea pig. Suddenly, a thought rushed over me that gave me significance. No one can take care of my guinea pig better than me.
I dropped the knife and rushed to the bathroom to wash my arm. Just then, my roommate discovered what I had done. Instantly, he telephoned my parents and the police.
When my parents and the police arrived at my apartment, the police had asked me about my intent to harm myself. I confessed that it was true.
The officer said, “You can either leave with us or you can leave with your parents. What’s your choice?”
I decided to leave with my parents.
Within minutes, I was dropped off at Flower Hospital and admitted to the psychiatric ward where I was diagnosed with depression.
It was Easter weekend. I would miss spending time with my family this holiday.
While I was hospitalized, I received a phone call from my little sister. She had just graduated from basic combat training in the Army. When I heard her voice on the phone, there was something different in her voice.
There was a confidence that I never knew she had. She was bold.
I wanted what she had but I thought it would be impossible given the fact that I had just been diagnosed with depression.
But that conversation planted a seed of hope in me.
And that’s when I began looking at the Army as a possible career track.
While researching Army jobs online, I discovered the Animal Care Specialist job.
Just thinking about how my guinea pig saved my life, I wanted to give back to animals by serving them.
I met with a recruiter. I was honest about the depression and the medication I was on. He advised that I would need to discontinue the medicine and when going to MEPS if asked about this to answer, “No. Never. Not at all.”
I followed his advice. I stopped taking the medicine, I cancelled my counseling, and I began doing whatever was necessary to get into the Army.
When I went to MEPS, I scored well on the ASVAB and passed the rigorous screening process. I met with the career counselor and I was awarded the Animal Care Specialist job.
In October, I went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO for 9 weeks of basic training. It was physically and mentally tough. But I believe the only way I got through it was going to church.
I was not a Christian when I joined the Army. I didn’t know anything about church and I never really attended. But during basic, I felt like I needed it.
I went every Sunday with a few soldiers from my platoon.
In November, a local church in Missouri, just outside the base, hosted what they called “Free Day Away.” Those of us who had been on good behavior were allowed to attend.
We boarded the bus and left the installation.
The church allowed us to go to the corner store. We were allowed to go bowling. They even provided us with dinner. All we had to do was attend the special service they had planned for us.
That night, after the message, the pastor held an altar call. That was the moment when I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and was saved.
After basic, I attended advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, TX. There, for nine intense weeks, I trained to become a veterinary technician.
This is all a true story about how I became a soldier in the Army. Looking back, I see it all differently now.
I truly believe that God orchestrated the whole thing. He inspired my guinea pig to speak at just the right moment. He prompted my sister to call me in my darkest hour. He positioned the Army to introduce me to Him. And because of His plan, I am now married with three boys and running a business that never would have existed without His involvement.
That might sound hokey to some of you reading this. Yet, some of you will see God’s hand at work.
I share this story because it was a dark part of my life. And now, after fifteen years, the person I was then is merely a shadow.
Wherever you find yourself in your life, don’t give up. There is hope on the other side of whatever you are facing. Even if you don’t see it yet.