This post is part of a Chocolate on my Cranium blog hop of word full Wednesdays, the topic is tell about a time when you were brave.
Some people say that having a baby over 10 pounds with no pain killer is bravery, which I've done, but that is not the kind of bravery that came to my mind first when I read about this topic.
One time that stands out in my mind that I guess I was brave was in Basic Training for the Army. In case you're wondering what basic training is like, most movie depictions are fairly accurate. I think Forest Gump said it best: "Make your bed look real nice, stand up real tall, and answer every question with 'Yes, Drill Sergeant!'" It's also true that they swear at you, call you names, give you petty nicknames ( I was "school teacher" because they said I had school teacher hair, whatever that means.)
Anyway, it's also true that you get in trouble for the tiniest little thing (rolling your eyes to a drill sergeant could result in a demotion and no pay for a month or two) and they play mind games with you: one drill sergeant will tell you to do something and when you go to do it another drill sergeant will yell at you not to do it, then the first drill sergeant will yell at you for not doing it. Plus you don't get nearly enough sleep, and what sleep you do get is interrupted by an hour of fire guard in the middle of the night. So they do a pretty good job of breaking you down emotionally. Church could not come fast enough each week. I would read my scriptures and pray in a bathroom stall after lights out every night, which helped me greatly, but church was a sweet release. The base where I was didn't allow single missionaries on base, so there were just a few senior missionary couples. One of the sisters would stand at the door and hug every woman that came because she knew that we were going through some emotional stress and that touching in Basic Training is taboo. We were only allowed 2 hours for church, but it was the best, most uplifting two hours for the whole week!
A few weeks into Basic Training, we did a field training exercise (camping, except no smoores, flashlights, nature walks, or fun) and a man and woman got in trouble together. Oy. The mind games then ensued of how we need to watch out for one another and keep each other in line. We got back from the feild about 7:00 Sunday morning, and because we didn't prevent the indecression of others (two people I have never even met, and they weren't in our platoon (smaller group) but we were C.A.P.E.d, which stands for Corrective Action through Physical Exertion. And not just push ups either, it was wearing 30 pounds of equipment and crawling on the ground dragging another soldier kind of thing. This went on probably until around 2 in the afternoon, so everyone missed church. You don't get a lot of rights in Basic Training but one thing you do have a right to do is go to church. But what could we do? We were at their mercy day in and day out.
About two weeks later, we all went to a meeting with the company commander. To give you an idea, the drill sergeants are in charge of the company (a company is around 100-150 people, and there are about 10-15 drill sergeants) then there's a first sergeant over them. Then there's a company commander above the first sergeant. So we got a meeting with him and he sent the drill sergeants away and gave us time to stand up and report anything that had been going on that shouldn't. Tons of people raised their hands and most of their complaints were dismissed or downplayed (the drill sergeant didn't cause brain damage when she slammed you into the wall, did she?), so fewer and fewer people raised their hands, I had been raising my hand every time he said "What else?" but no one had talked about missing church! So I persisted and finally I got a chance to speak, I told him my name and what had happened, he looked concerned and said something to the effect of "Yea, they can't keep you from going to church." Wow, he actually listened! I heard it through the grape vine later on that the drill sergeants got in big trouble for that. After the meeting at least five people came up to me and thanked me for saying something about not going to church. And every one of them said something like this: "I really wanted to say something about that but I was too afraid." Of over a hundred people I was the only one to stand up and say hey, we need that whole freedom of religion first amendment thing! Yes, I had been worried that the commander would dismiss my point, but I knew that I had to try and do the very few things I could to prevent it from happening again. It was something small, but one thing I think shows bravery is standing up for your religion, even when it is unpopular and possible no one will listen.