When a family moves (PCS-Permanent Change of Station) to the Third Infantry Division, there’s a stigma that follows the move to this southeastern Army installation. Our location has been quoted as the Army’s leader in suicides, DUIs, divorce and deployments for soldiers and their families. The pace of life here is unfathomable and hard to explain except that many call it the “Marne Express,” either you ride the train or the train will run over you. I can’t agree more that the tempo of this location is surreal; continual field training exercises away from families, training exercises for 30-60 days away from Georgia across the country, deployment schedules to war and anything in between keeps the soldiers busy with the “battle rhythm.”

I'd like to you to Kyle (name changed for privacy). He is the classic rugged, athletic and rowdy middle school boy who also is a big bully on his bus, the playground in the neighborhood and in his school. He’s a huge trouble maker and runs with the group of kids that most parents try to keep their kids from hanging out with. I first was introduced to Kyle when Club threw together a neighborhood outreach event last summer with flag football and kickball. We fed all the kids tons of hotdogs — what kid doesn’t like free food!?!

That day I got to experience who Kyle was in his own surroundings. Kyle competes hard. He loves to bend — more like break — all the rules whenever possible. He wins at all costs, no matter the situation.  A week ago, I was finishing putting the final touches on prep work before our students at Hunter started showing up to Club that night. To my surprise, I noticed Kyle walking toward the parking lot — 45 minutes before Club began. This wasn’t the first time Kyle has shown up considerably early, so I pressed into what God had in store for his hanging out ahead of time. Most people see Kyle as the bully and troublemaker all the time in his daily life, but I get to see something deeper, something about his own story. Recently he shared with me how his folks are going through a divorce and all the while his father is deployed to war overseas, fighting for our country.

One of the things I noticed about Kyle lately was all the new stuff he’d been bringing or wearing to Club. This evening was no different. Kyle had a set of headphones on his head, easily worth $300 or more and a “backup pair” in his bag he carried worth another $200. We got to talking about where things were in his life and I asked him how he was handling things with his parents pending divorce. “I’m doing alright,” he stated, “but my sister, I’m not sure she’s handling it so well.” In that moment I shared with him about my divorce and how the pain really hurt badly and stated that it is alright to be honest when things are not going alright around home. Finally, I asked him why he comes so early to Club. “I like to come early and hang out,” he unashamedly stated to me.

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