Post Author: Jessica Horn

As U.S. Navy Chaplains, we have the privilege of serving Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsman, and their families in every clime, place, and context. It is a humbling honor to stand with and for those who defend the Constitution of the United States. Our “ministry of presence” occurs aboard ships, cutters, and submarines; with expeditionary, construction, and amphibious battalions; ranging over air, sea, and shore commands worldwide. We live among our people, we deploy with them, and we preach and pray in some of the most interesting of circumstances.

cross in front of a sunburst

In the Shadow of the Cross

This chaplaincy is unique in the uniforms we wear and the places we go; however, there are a myriad of similarities with any parish or institutional ministry. We provide rituals and rites of our faith group according to our denominational guidelines, we counsel and facilitate religious practice for every service and family member of all faiths, we advise the chain of command, and we are subject matter experts on human care. The following reflection is based on an amalgamation of days and circumstances and reflects a typical spiritual and emotional experience for me as I continue to discover that My Job is really not at all about me.


Today was a day I felt I hated My Job.
As I crossed the brow and strode down the pier I was consumed by a need to rant.
My uniform chafed under the heft of my self-disappointment,
And its assumed armor did not insulate me from, in the immediate, those I felt to be dangerous and deceitful folk, mirrors of my very nature.
My failure reverberates around me as my limited patience and sapped grace wane in the sunset of exhaustion, dashed expectation, and powerlessness.
I am not enough. And they know.

Today was a day I resented My Job.
Those to whom I devote my energy, life, and all available resources demonstrated themselves to be ungrateful, critical, and manipulative, reflecting back my own psychic garbage heap, my enemy (my internal dialogue), and so I weep.
I may never be enough.

Today was a day I was energized by My Job.
As I rounded corners of the passageways, my feet fell strong in massive steel-toed monsters, shoulders less slumped, bells ringing the hours resounded bodily, fire ignited in my belly, as I crossed the threshold into a meeting.
On this day, my sparkle remained unextinguished by this (another) interminable meeting, as I recall the one who brought sacred questions about atonement, trinity, and evil in authentic wrestling, kindling a spiritual practice.
Maybe I can be enough?
The Holy Spirit is at work!

Today was a day I was astonished by My Job.
Wading through the ripples of abuse, pain splashes on all in proximity, in eroding drops,
I am drowning in my inadequacy for this task, yet the Call is to “feed my sheep.”
I just didn’t expect them to be so malnourished, emaciated, or stubborn.
Lengthy, gloomy, and intense conversations lead to a late night ring, “based on our conversation, and what you said, I will come forward. Can you help me?”
Darkness delivered to the light, the weighted blanket of shame pulled back revealing the bedfellow of misplaced loyalty and the welcome coolness of hope.
God may have given me enough. Today.

Today You offered me affirmation in My Job.
It beaded and trickled when confronted by my defensive stance, my posture repellant to positive input, yet curved toward, defined by, craving any self-hatred I can construct.
The story did not go the way I would want, the way it should/could have gone, and somehow it is working for them, they are ok, to my amazement, they call just to vocalize gratitude for Your love felt through my meager effort, one foot in front of the other.
Maybe this is not about my enoughness…maybe this is Your Job…
Perhaps I can rest in Your enough. Today.

Jessica Horn is an ordained Presbyterian Church (USA) minister currently serving as Command Chaplain aboard USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41).

Image by: Sharon
Used with permission
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