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    Spiritual faithfulness breaks Air Guardsman’s loneliness

    Spiritual faithfulness breaks Air Guardsman’s loneliness

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Halley Burgess | Master Sgt. Ronda Hedges, unit training manager with the 131st Maintenance Group,...... read more read more



    Story by 2nd Lt. Nathan Dampf 

    131st Bomb Wing

    Strong spiritual fitness can guide a person’s internal conduct, as well as his or her relationship with the external world.

    It can give a person a sense of purpose, especially in spite of difficulties or discouragement, according to AFI 90-506, Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

    It’s that spiritual strength that Master Sgt. Ronda Hedges, unit training manager with the 131st Maintenance Group, depended on when she was going through struggles in her life.

    “After receiving divorce papers from an abusive husband and feeling alone away from family, having just started a new college career. That was the greatest sense of loneliness that I have ever felt,” said Hedges.

    Where did she turn? To a relationship with Jesus Christ, said Hedges.

    After four years on active duty, Hedges got out of the Air Force and moved back home to Fredericktown, Missouri. She got married, but soon into her marriage, things got violent.

    “We struggled with communication,” she said. “And, in his frustration he could not control his anger. He would pin me up against the wall and try to persuade me that he was right.”

    At one point, her then-husband put his hands around her neck. A family member noticed the marks. Hedges stressed the need for counseling to her husband. But instead, she received divorce papers and never heard from him again.

    The failed marriage left Hedges feeling alone and demoralized and unsure of what to do, she said.

    “I had to move out on my own,” said Hedges. “Not knowing what happened, only after a year and a half of marriage, and not having closure was hard for me.”

    Although Hedges was raised in a Christian home, she said she didn’t depend on her faith until she was humbled after her marriage. She wanted answers and turned her focus toward God.

    “Anytime I wasn’t in school, I was listening to Christian music and radio trying to hear what God wanted for me. It is about the relationship, the one-on-one relationship – that is what Jesus gave His life for.”

    Hedges attended Sunday school classes, worship and Bible studies. Listening to scripture, she says she made strides.

    Spiritual fitness is a resource for Airmen from all faith backgrounds, Christian or otherwise, according to Lt. Col. Scott Doby, 131st Bomb Wing chaplain.

    “All faiths can strengthen their spiritual fitness by being a part of a church, synagogue, temple or mosque in which they are welcomed and become a part of something bigger than themselves,” said Doby.

    “Many people don’t come from healthy functional homes, but broken painful families, like I did,” he said. “I tell all people two major things: go where you are accepted and start new memories where you are accepted.”

    Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance are powerful pieces of renewal, and are major factors of resiliency that strengthen a person’s spiritual being, he added.

    “I had to put all of my feelings of unworthiness and anxiety aside,” Hedges said. “I found, through God, forgiveness and healing from the pain. I felt his complete presence.”

    Similar to Hedges’ experience, spiritual fitness helps Airmen develop personal resilience, through positive coping skills that help overcome life’s obstacles, according to Doby. He agreed that resilient Airmen make quality Airmen who contribute to unit success and unit retention.

    “Being spiritually fit can positively impact you by providing you with the resources you need when the massive trials of life come – and they will come,” he said. “You have a foundation to stand upon and lean against by living a life of balance and differentiation.”

    Doby defines balance in regards to the tools used to cope. In the context of spiritual fitness, these include prayer, reading scripture, attending worship services and finding a body of believers who can surround you and support you.

    Differentiation, he said, is “physically, socially and psychologically separating yourself from those who would take advantage of you and suck the life and energy out of you because they choose not to treat you in an appropriate manner.”

    Hedges said she experienced that balance when she learned to be content and trust God’s control. Things got better for her as she was “blessed” with one opportunity after another. She joined the Missouri Air National Guard in St. Louis, Missouri, working on the F-15 as a crew chief. Later, due to her success and work ethic, she was offered a full-time job. She then relocated to Whiteman following the Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s decision to end Missouri’s F-15 mission. She was trained to maintain the B-2 Spirit and now has her name on the Spirit of Nebraska.

    Single for 13 years, Hedges trusted God and found another blessing, she said.

    “I met a wonderful and giving man, who shows his love,” said Hedges of her recent marriage. “Before that I had to learn to live content.

    “It’s hard if we aren’t the one in control, and I think that is what people struggle with most spiritually,” she added. “We may have to give things up to do well in life, but the peace and joy of knowing you are taken care of, that’s going to last forever.”



    Date Taken: 04.04.2016
    Date Posted: 12.20.2016 15:59
    Story ID: 218295

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