MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Navy Lt. Matthew Fisher is a chaplain with the Marine Corps Communication Electronics School. he enjoys running and skiing and while at his high school broke an approximately decade-long losing streak in his division of high schools for Cross Country with a three-mile time of 14 minutes and 52 seconds while attending Marion Military Academy in Aurora, Illinois.
I was the youngest of five children in my family. I had two sisters, who were very musically inclined, and one sister and a brother who were great at sports and very successful which left me kind of floating in their shadow. For a long time in my life, I had to try to stand out from their achievements which led me to seek a different path.
My brother was a star athlete; he graduated high school as the valedictorian and went on to attend an Ivy League school and ultimately became a professor at Purdue University. Then there’s me; I couldn’t go anywhere without someone comparing me to one of my siblings and what they’ve done.
I began my journey to make my own mark by going to Marion Military Academy, an all-boys catholic military school, where I would have achievements that would set me apart.
Alpine skiing was something we did as a family and came very natural to me. I received several concussions in my goal to conquer mountains by skiing.
While on the slopes I learned to always wear a helmet and never try to impress women while skiing. It’s how I got one of my concussions.
By my junior year in high school some of my teachers noticed I was a fast runner and eventually the coach of the school’s Cross Country team heard who I was. I was encouraged by my English teacher and my father to begin running competitively.
It’s a fundamental part of life to want to make your own path and seek meaning in what you do. It’s important to remember not to get caught up in being different from others but more so doing something you enjoy.
- In my experience, fulfillment in a profession doesn’t necessarily mean money or a determined amount of success but if you find joy and accomplishment in yourself.
- After I got to Marion Military Academy for high school, I played sports recreationally, but my junior year I was encouraged to join the cross country team. The long-distance running came naturally, and I honestly never considered I’d be good at it. I guess it was a skill I never knew I had until that point.
- It was a great surprise for me I suppose because it taught me a lot of lessons in teamwork. Running is individual oriented but I would work hard and push myself to make a positive contribution to the team. How I performed directly influenced other people and that was an important lesson.
Growing up, I thought going to church was a chore, but I came to realize that church wasn’t the only part to being in the faith. A large part of it was helping the community and impacting the lives of people around you.
A large part of why I became a chaplain was to help the people who sacrifice so much every day to serve this country. What I realized through ministry and the volunteer work I did with Christian programs is that although people may have different walks of life many of them have similar problems.
Helping someone find a direction to go in to find meaning in what they do is a common dilemma people have in their lives. Being able to guide people in the direction they want to go and help with their issues in their life is a rewarding experience.
It’s important to work toward something with every step you take.
Having the end goal in mind can help get through the hard times of a life situation.
- On a run, pushing through the times you want to quit will help you get to the finish line quicker. That concept can be applied to anything we do.
Running teaches many valuable lessons. There are many points in a long distance run where you can hit a wall of exhaustion and your body wants to give up. Those are the moments you have to prepare for the most because the urge to quit always lingers.
Your career, day-to-day, or even life can present these imaginary walls that can make you want to give up or quit. Having the resilience to burst through those walls and overcome obstacles is a key part to leading a life you can be proud of.