jollyguruby KEVIN CARNEY, Staff Writer

I believe everything happens for a reason. There have been a lot of things I’ve experienced which have often challenged me. But each time, when I’ve felt troubled, I reflect on this belief and it helps guide me through it.

I’d like to take you back to 2007 when this belief became a factor at the core of who I am.  The previous year I had left Western Michigan University after three years, because I had allowed my grades to fall so sharply. I had aspirations of joining the military, but was about 40 lbs too heavy and had just been fired from my job. Needless to say I was feeling kind of lost.

After three months of sending out applications without hearing any word back, I finally cracked and submitted an application to a grocery store, something I told myself I’d never do again. There were a number of stores near my house, so I chose the one that was closest to me.  A few days later I heard back from them, but the location they were telling me to go for my initial interview was a place completely different than the one I thought I was applying for.

I arrived at the store that I previously didn’t even know existed; only to discover that it was two doors down from a recruiting center for the military. I was offered a position and began work a short time later.

The close proximity to the recruiting center helped reignite my passion for joining the military and gave me direction that I sorely needed. Six months and 40 lbs later I was lined up alongside several other “soon to be servicemen and women,” taking my oath to “defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.”  I had realized my goal.

Everything that has happened to me in the last eight years can be attributed to that one grocery store application. There were dark times during that period of course. But as I look back, I realize that every step I took led me to another, and another, each time fulfilling various facets of the overarching goal I have for myself.  Even at my lowest, I now see those periods in a new light, one that shows me that I’m on the path I need to be on.

Where it will go, I don’t know. But the best thing I can do is keep moving forward. If I find myself in darkness, I look for the ways these dark times might strengthen me, help me realize my overarching goal and will my proverbial legs to move again. Just one more step.