To my fellow vet sisters,
I know you expended loads of energy fitting in to your units dominated with brothers you would give your life for but may sometimes wonder if they fully accept you.
I know you put a brave face on every day as you erased your individual identity to become one with the team.
I know you’ve felt like some of your more feminine qualities detracted from your ability to be seen as equal.
I know you went through boot camp or field training being told or shown that only masculine traits are valued.
I know you went beer-for-beer at the bar to demonstrate your worthiness.
I know you cuss. Sometimes like a sailor.
I know you push yourself in PT, because that’s what the military expects. Because somewhere along the way, you learned the fallacy that running fast somehow translated to you being a better leader. (What a load of crap.)
I know you struggled keeping your faith under wraps for fear of being ostracized or because rules prevent proselytizing during duty hours and while in uniform.
I know you’re tired of always being on high alert when you’re walking through base camp at night.
I know you’re fed up with feeling guilty for leaving the office or asking for special accommodations, because your kid got spontaneously sick and you have to go pick them up from the CDC.
I know you’re fed up volunteering to man the office for the holidays, so the folks with families can have time at home.
I know you hide your true self, because you believe your unique God-given gifts won’t be seen, used, or accepted.
I’m here to tell you though that the way God stitched you together was not an accident.
All of those “feminine” traits that you keep tucked away like gentleness, kindness, and speaking life-giving words into tired and hurting souls weren’t put there on accident.
Your physical appearance – your stature, your gender, your youth – was not an accident.
Your sins do not make you defective and unusable for the kingdom. Scholars argue that the apostle Paul even used some unsavory words, and some of the most amazing Jesus-loving, justice-seeking people I have worked with in the anti-human trafficking world drop f-bombs like they’re going out of style. Cussing does not DQ you from serving the kingdom.
Your frustration towards coworkers who refuse to work with outside partner agencies points you to your gift of collaboration.
Your gentleness may make you the best person who can build bridges with another culture.
Your appearance may disarm others and allow you to infiltrate places your big and burly counterparts can’t access like it did for me when I was running informants for special operations targeting Al Qaeda.
Your easy laugh may be the secret weapon to bring walls down.
Your youthful looks may be a secret gift to experience a person’s true character when they misjudge you as someone who can do nothing for them. And when they discover your true influence and power, you now know you don’t need to invest any more time or energy in building relationship with them. They are not your people.
To all my fellow badass and powerful sisters who have endured deployments, precious time away from loved ones, completely burned yourselves out to a crisp for your country, spent hundreds of hours on the range showing your brothers what it means to “shoot like a girl”…I salute you. Our country is better and safer for what you bring to the table.
My wish for you today is that you accept yourself exactly as you are, because you are without flaw. Keep tucking those hot pink toenails in those combat boots, wear the lingerie under your uniform that makes you feel like your true self, and remember whose you are. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service and sacrifice.