By GySgt Micah U. Gonzales – I MEF Training Chief –
I wasn’t looking for anything life changing, because I already had life figured out. I’ve traveled cross country to seminars like Tony Robins, John Maxwell, read books, and listened to Jocko for years. Meanwhile, my wife and kids were afraid of me, and my marriage was tinkering on borderline separation because of my anger. Like many, my Facebook profile didn’t truly convey the reality behind closed doors.
In December 2017, two friends organized a small private Jiu Jitsu session for their MAI course. When Professors Chad Robichaux and Tom Cronin of Carlson Gracie Temecula walked in, I wasn’t aware my life was about to change. Chad’s Jiu Jitsu force fed us humble pie in the form of submissions, then he closed by telling his story. I’ve never seen another man be so transparent and authentic. I brought home his book, slapped it on the counter, and told my wife things were going to be different. She’s heard those words before. She pulled Chad’s number from my phone and secretly reached out to him, in hopes that a man I spoke highly of would repair her husband.
Six months later, I ran into Mighty Oaks team leader, Robert Cale. As I explained why I was too busy to attend, he enrolled me in the July Men’s Legacy Program. Phone in hand, he hit the submit button and said, “Cool excuse bro.” The uncomfortable push is exactly what I needed.
The Legacy Program changed my life and when I returned home, I expected everyone to pat me on the back, automatically forgive me, and get over all the hurt I had caused. After all, I just attended an intense, five-day program, and even wore the T-shirt home. So that basically made me a model citizen, right? Nope! The work was just beginning! The problems don’t disappear. “I” am the one who changed. Mighty Oaks taught me how to effectively use the weapon that was issued to me when the enemy attacks. Those who I’ve hurt along the way were still watching my actions in hopes that I follow through on my promises, as I rebuilt trust…especially with my wife Jessica.
As I continue to rebuild that trust, I have a new purpose in life! I wake up jacked with a new level of energy and drive. I’m on FIRE to serve now that I’ve found a way to impact others. While attending the Men’s Legacy Program, I decided to plant my flag and create a mission statement that I was going to live by. I scribbled it onto a scratch piece of paper that I still have on my visor:
I will intentionally pursue God
I will be an authentic example for my children to emulate
I will develop enough character to lead my family as a servant leader
I will rewrite my story and leave a legacy by leading those in my circle of influence
I also have a new concept of what leaving a positive legacy is all about! To me, “Legacy” used to be just a fancy word for reputation. My definition of the word has surely evolved since attending Mighty Oaks. Now, I define it as having the selfless passion to serve others. It’s putting in the sweat equity and elbow grease, but not expecting anything in return. I try to live by my mission statement, with the understanding that it’s going to evolve as I grow.
I know without a doubt God is equipping me for something big, and I have no idea what that looks like in the near future. The best way to describe the feeling is, “ignorance under construction.” I’m blessed to live near a group of Mighty Oaks alumni leaders. For now, I simply seek mentorship with my mouth shut and ears open for God to work through these leaders as they speak into my life.
In the past, I’ve lived a mentally and physically disciplined life with plenty to show for it, but I’ve lived life on my terms. If a rule was inconvenient, I simply chose not to follow it. Then I witnessed full grown, combat hardened, bearded, physically strong, Godly men, humble themselves by openly admitting their shortfalls, displaying who they really were. It made me realize they were just as flawed as I was and still face temptation. The group of leaders that I now associate with back home don’t allow excuses, especially the leader of the Mighty Oaks Men’s Outpost, Robert Cale. This is why I know my future will be brighter, because I’m held accountable by some extraordinary men.
Even though the threat of temptation will always be present, no matter how disciplined I may be, I can have the best of intentions, but if I’m not surrounding myself with people who are moving in the right direction, my flesh will always fail me. The bottom line is; We as humans are weak. The second we break away from the flock, we become vulnerable prey for the enemy to pick us off one by one. In other words, we need companionship and community. Mighty Oaks refers to this as having a corner man, in the same sense that in any combat sport, you’ve got someone in your corner to encourage you toward victory. It’s easy to be introverted and hide away when you feel like giving into the flesh…
However, the risk of vulnerability is more important than the threat of isolation.