Journey to officership
by Jillian O’Brien –
My journey to officership began when I was a child. I have been involved in The Salvation Army all of my life. My parents, David and Gaylene Yardley, were commissioned when I was just six years old. So you can imagine how many times I heard those dreaded words, “Jillian, when are you going to become an officer?” I always laughed off the comment and told myself that would never, ever happen to me. Never say never!
I attended a youth councils at age 14 and felt God’s call on my life to become an officer. I convinced myself that I was too young to experience such a calling and walked away from it. Throughout high school and college, I felt strongly about being in a profession where I could share my faith with others. I decided that being a teacher at a Christian school would satisfy God, and I would no longer have to worry about the calling to officership I had received years before.
When I was 19, I attended a Western Music Institute that changed my life. God was speaking to my heart the whole week, but I ignored him because I thought I knew better. On the last night at camp, Lt. Colonel O’Brien gave the devotional, and I completely fell to tears. I have no idea what his devotional was about, but…this uncontrollable wave of emotion came over me, and I realized that nothing I could do would be good enough for God unless I fully surrendered to his will. I prayed that night and God that I would listen and be obedient to the path he had for me.
After that night, things in my life began to fall in place. I had unsuccessfully tried to date Michael O’Brien two previous times, and wouldn’t you know, the week after WMI he asked me to be his girlfriend. Which was immediately followed by my response, “If you don’t ask me to marry you in a year, I am breaking up with you.” Michael got the subtle hint and asked me to marry him just under the deadline.
After we were married for a year, the next journey on our list was to enter Crestmont. On the day we began the acceptance process we found out we were in for another major change—we were having our first child. Michael and I discussed putting off training for a year, but we knew in our hearts that we needed to go to Crestmont.
Friends, staff, and even I had concerns about having a newborn in training, but I have learned more about God’s love and patience since having my daughter Brynn. Everything that we were learning in our classes about God’s character became extremely real to me as soon as Brynn was born. She was dependent on me, just as we are dependent on God. I have unconditional love for her, just as God has for all of us. And now that Brynn is older and loves the word “No,” I don’t love her any less or give up on her. Just as I continued to tell God no, he never loved me less or gave up on me.
Now that my training experience has come to an end, I am thankful for every experience, because they have made me who I am today. I am excited for our next journey that will start when we find out first appointment. I am ready to say yes to God wherever he sends me on this journey as a Salvation Army officer. I can’t imagine living my life any other way.