“I can’t see, not with my foresight anyway, anything that could possibly go so wrong this summer that I’d be struggling the way I was in that vision” – AnJuan Thomas
The words in the epigraph were written in the April 22, 2011 entry of Triumphs & Tribulations XI. I was still pretty shellshocked from a very incredible vision that has, to this point, changed my life.
THE SETUP. It all started in December 2010 with The Cocoa Goddess dumping me at a breakfast table in The Georgian Terrace Hotel. I met The Community Planner shortly after. A combination of emotional vulnerability and peer pressure led to us dating. At the same time, I had brought in a then career-best tax return after taking advantage of several tax benefits associated with my move from Japan to the United States. My financial situation improved dramatically. I had just taken over the Joint Base Andrews Facility Managers Program and I was enjoying a tidal wave of success with that venture. For the 1st time in nearly 2 years, I was feeling my best. I had even started to patch up issues with my family back in Birmingham…putting aside disagreements that soured a small part of the Tokyo assignment and factored into me not coming home as often as I could have. I was in a great place in life. As I alluded to in the epigraph and wrote in that journal entry, I couldn’t see anything that would’ve suggested the experience ahead of me based on everything before the vision.
THE VISION. April 19, 2011. That’s the date of significance. I remember being awakened out of my sleep…not by a weird noise or a phone call or even an alarm. This was just a sudden awakening out of a deep sleep. As I laid in my IKEA Malm bed, a vision appeared on my wall. I assure you that I was wide awake and I haven’t had a TV in my bedroom since I lived in Birmingham so there was no mistaking what this was. The vision showed me several instances of myself laboring through what appeared to be the summer season. It showed me wearing shorts, showed Independence Day fireworks, and a couple of pages of paper that had August dates on them…all things that happen in the summer. It also showed me raising my hands in victory while wearing a jacket and there were leaves falling off trees…both things that happen in the fall. Then I heard God’s voice and I’ll never forget what He said: “you will suffer this summer but you shall rejoice in the fall if you make it through”. And that was it. The vision went dark and the room was quiet. For the next few days, it dominated my thoughts to the point where I started to fortify my life.
THE FIRESTORM. Everything seemed to be OK until June 18th. That’s when The Community Planner ended the budding 5-month relationship by giving her son’s father a 2nd chance. My reaction to that spilled over into the workplace and I had a heated moment with a senior non-commissioned officer that resulted in me getting a reprimand. The reprimand and the disappointment of yet another failed relationship resulted in me sustaining a shoulder injury during weightlifting exercises. I also lost $3100 after making an error in paying an online bill. In a matter of 3 ½ days, my entire life was in chaos. It was as if an F5 tornado has rushed through. Remembering God’s words to me 2 months earlier, I unplugged but I was in a bad space and my faith was getting antsy. I sought out help during one of the most intense parts of the storm. What followed was a dynamic fast: a 3 ½ month Internet fast and a 30-day food fast. As God told me, I suffered through the Summer of 2011. It was the hottest ever for me…literally and figuratively. It was exacerbated by seeing people around me experiencing great summer moments while I was mired in my misery…made worse when The Community Planner embarrassed me pretty much daily by having my her son’s father drop her off and pick her up at work, something I had to see every day. The questions I had to answer behind that made me uncomfortable. I was also uncomfortable in my own home, uncomfortable with my financial situation, uncomfortable with my recovery from the injury. It was tough. I set a goal for myself to get to a very specific safe haven at a very specific time: I needed to be in the stillness of the Chūō Special Rapid on a weekend night in Tokyo. I booked a month-long trip to Tokyo that would eat up my entire September but I still had to make it through the dog days of summer. The hottest days of the summer test were the toughest. I nearly surrendered but I persevered through after seeing James 1:12 in the Holy Bible from a far different perspective.
THE REWARD. The reward during the Long Hot Summer of 2011—that’s what I call it—wasn’t the rejoicing, which happened on September 25, 2011 during a church service. The reward was finding peace in the stormy season. That peace came in a few different ways: (1) the phone number change, (2) making it to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, and (3) walking through the turnstiles at Fussa Station. I made a decision to change my phone number after I upgraded my Motorola RAZR V3 to an HTC Sensation. The reason why was to psychologically convince myself that I didn’t have to worry about whether or not The Community Planner would reconsider if she couldn’t contact me. Getting away from the DC area was very important to my peace. I labored through that entire summer in that area save for a day trip to King’s Dominion in late June. When I arrived at the Tom Bradley International Terminal on September 1st, ahead of my flight to Tokyo, the angst of a brutally difficult summer lifted. And when I pulled out my Suica card to badge into the turnstiles at Fussa Station on September 2nd, I smiled for the 1st time in months. That’s when I knew I had my peace about the entire summer. Also registering in as a reward was my charity. Despite having so much taken from me that summer, I still gave cheerfully and purposefully…none more than the 1st Just Juan Building Blocks Scholarship. Finding peace in spite of that storm is why I was able to raise my hands in victory and rejoice in the Fall of 2011.
The Long Hot Summer of 2011 still remains fresh in my mind. The domino effect of that event has led to so much change in my life…a true catalyst. In the moment, I hated every bit of it and the stuff I wrote in Triumphs & Tribulations XI is a testament to it. But, in hindsight, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.