It is interesting to see the changes in Soldiers during the 14 months we have been mobilized and the 8+ months we have been deployed.
Some of the changes are physical. One Soldier was telling me that during the time we have been in Iraq he has gained 20 pounds - most of it in the last few months. Some Soldiers have gained much more. The food, while not good, is plentiful. Long, stressful days leave little time for exercise if you are not motivated and disciplined. Another Soldier told me about losing 60 pounds! Beleive me, I had noticed. She joined a weight control program and began running three days a week. She went home for leave last week and had not told her husband she had lost the weight. What a surprise! I ate lunch with a Soldier I had never met before yesterday, and he told me about losing 45 pounds here from eating well, exercise, and not being able to drink beer.
Other changes are noticeable through actions. Some folks are angry. They feel that their lives have been put on hold. Some Soldiers were called back from the Inactive Ready Reserve; they have already been here at least once and thought they were through with the military. Many of us are just weary from the grueling pace of many months away from home. Many folks are discovering for the first time what they are made of. Some of these Soldiers have never left their home towns and are proud of what they are doing. Many of our young men and women have never left their home state, much less the country. The sense of self-reliance is freeing for them.
The most gratifying for me, of course, are those who are changing spiritually. The growth in faith, stripped away from all the pretenses of the American culture, is amazing. Many of us have learned that we can live, even thrive, without many of the things we thought were so important back home. Here we have learned not to fear those who can kill the body, but to focus on eternal matters. Many of our Soldiers are making first time decisions to live for Christ; others are rededicating themselves to serving in the Kingdom. I am especially enjoying the six month long study of what it means to live life as a Christian man that I am leading with a group of guys here.
So, there are changes; some good, some bad. Pray for us as we seek to change in ways that are pleasing to God.