When I was a teenager my high school counselor told me that I would never amount to anything. To be honest, I was not someone who put a lot of effort into school work.

I came from a poor Family and grew up in a modest home. My father never completed high school, which was a common and reoccurring theme from his side of the Family. However, no matter the cards that were dealt to me, I was not going to allow this counselor’s opinion of me or my circumstances dictate my life.

I struggled, but eventually graduated high school. I even went to college and was the first in my Family to graduate with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Throughout the years I successfully completed three, yes that’s correct, three Army basic training programs and served in armor, infantry, and now as a chaplain.

Before I became a chaplain, I finished up a career in law enforcement obtaining a master peace officer license and served for 19 years as a criminal investigator.

I do not like to boast about my achievements, but I share this because I want to point out that I could not celebrate success without God being a “very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). I was not successful on my own accord, it was God who facilitated my success.

The success that I celebrate is not indicated by a piece of paper on a wall, a plaque on a desk, or a ribbon on my chest. It is not a tab on my uniform or a level of rank. All those items serve a purpose, but will eventually deteriorate and be discarded.

Each of those items, nevertheless, take me back to that particular time and place in my life when I faced opposition and discouragement. Many times I was so consumed with discouragement, all I wanted to do was throw in the towel and give up.

It is in these moments, when we need to search for something bigger than ourselves and have the courage to ask God for help.

It is in these moments when God truly provides comfort, care and strengthens our resolve to continue on and do more than what we believe we are capable of.

The success I celebrate is knowing that no matter the turmoil, God is not only faithful, but a “very present help.” It is not my high school counselor’s fault for being wrong, she did not know I had connections.