I began reading memoirs and biographies of Navy SEALs back in 2007, and since then I have read nearly every book from this genre (they release a new one every few months so its been hard to keep up). Through my readings I have been captivated by the unique stories of courage and discipline to be on some clandestine mission.
During the summer of 2001 I was serving a LDS mission in Independence, Mo. and my father had passed through on business and had an opportunity to meet up for lunch. I remember talking to him about being confused as to why we all do not dedicate ourselves to become the same caliber of spirituality as that of Prophets & Apostles.
I have been home more than a decade from my 2-yr mission and I am not confused about that topic my father and I discussed back then. I now know that the testing and proving process to become such is rigorous, lonely and requires an incredible amount of discipline and discipleship - not to say that I prefer the easy road rather the "road less traveled".
I've mentioned to friends and family before that I believe that Apostles are equivalent in courage, valor, obedience, discipline and as committed to their cause as that of SEALs and usually I get raised eyebrows of disbelief mixed with a verbal grunt of approval as my audience begins to contemplate the similarities. I understand the immediate hesitation to agree with my statement, especially when one assumes America's most elite soldiers are warriors that thirst for blood. I've personally known two Navy SEALs and it is the highest form of false accusation to think of them as anything other than highly disciplined, focused and kind men of very sound thinking with a deep appreciation for the good things of life and of life itself.
Live The Lifestyle
The title Mormon in comparison to a true Saint, is equivalent to comparing an infantryman to a Navy SEAL - the caliber of the individuals are dramatically different. When it comes to war, whether Heaven or on Earth who do you think are the first to perish?
I am grateful for all members of the Church, just as I am for all members of our military, but there is a clear & distinct difference between members of the church and members who have become Saints.
To be tested and proven is what enables dependability, and failing is prerequisite to success. Spiritually speaking "there was no other good enough to pay the price of sin" and thus in essence we are all failing to some degree, which James the brother of Jesus points out that to fail on any level of degree is the same regardless
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in ONE POINT, he is guilty of [offending] all [points]. (emphasis added) -James 2:10
Abraham was shown parts of the creation and was taught the fundamental purpose, which the Lord said was to...
"prove them herewith, to see if they (all of us) will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" - (Abraham 3:25)
In a conversation about attitude and discipline required to pass through Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL school otherwise known as BUD/S I was told by my former SEAL friend that "failure was not an option". My first response to that came in the form of a thought and it went something like "Bull. That's impossible." I continued to sit and listen intently on what my friend had to say, which I was thoroughly captivated and in total concurrence with his thoughts. When he finished I asked if I could pontificate on his thoughts about why he succeeded at not ringing the bell (a bell in which BUD/S volunteers ring when they choose to drop from the training at any time).
Failing Differs From Failure
"You are an excellent failure, better said you are great at failing"
Yes, I said that to a former Navy SEAL. It's amazing how terrible I can be at communicating when it's something I do for a living, sales and marketing is really nothing more than communication through various mediums. And sometimes I am so bad at it.
So back to my story: timidly I paused and looked at the marble table between me and the door and thought 'If he moves toward me I had better clear that marble in one massive leap or Im going to be really sore in the morning'.
Mr. SEAL slid back in his chair and looked at me with a slight smirk on his face as if to say 'ballsy statement. Continue on.'
I think I literally gulped, hey I had only met him briefly before this conversation about a week earlier (don't ask why I said what I did, it just formulated that way and spilled out).
"Well, have you ever failed at anything? I mean particularly during BUD/S and even the Teams?"
"Yeah. I had to take the prerequisite BUD/S qualification course 3Xs before I could even go to BUD/S"
"Precisely! And I am sure there were lots of other failings throughout your time in the Navy. You see, my point is not that you yourself are a failure, but that you have failed in life. It's what you did with the setbacks that is remarkably different from most people, you got back up. I mean the cliche sayings to dust yourself off or get back on the horse are not cliche with SEALs they are the definition of these cliches - you make cliches real. You fail better than 99.9% of all humanity. Isn't that what the Instructors are doing is testing or proving to see what you will do when all the odds are against you, and when you are at your lowest moment? Candidates on the brink of hypothermia, with minor fractures in their shins & sternums, near delirium from sleep deprivation, parched with thirst, pained with hunger, swimming in deep dark sea water...etc Instructors just want to know who they can depend on to endure to the end of the mission... right?"
Mr. SEAL agreed, "Yes. I never quite. Nothing distracted me from my purpose. The cold water was terrible, but I wanted to become a SEAL more than I wanted to be warm and that was my attitude through every challenge"
I believe it is vital to our overall well-being that we discover our purpose or our mission. It has been interesting to me to think that the Lord does not care if we are a doctor, dentist, lawyer, professor, walmart greeter, CEO or janitor, but He does care that we have discovered our mission/purpose.
I believe that the Lord is seeking out the elite, what He calls the "Elect". I am in complete admiration when it comes to individuals who have dedicated themselves to discovering their mission and come hell or high water they prove themselves to be true to what they intend to accomplish and I believe it is through this that we then find our most challenging obstacles and most lonely moments - those moments that cause us to ask the Lord "where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?"
I have to assume that we may not be becoming our best selves if we never ask those questions. Hard times are not always a part of our lives, it would be weird and awkward if they were. The video below is one of my all-time favorites, which discusses this very subject.