When Life Takes a Different Turn

In honor of Veterans Day last Sunday, we’re featuring an interview with one of our own veterans, Jordan Johnson, who is a member of the 4word Dallas group. Jordan served in Kuwait and Iraq as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Military Police, the only branch in the military where a woman can be on the front lines, and she now works at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm.


4word: How did you come to work at CBRE? Did you always plan to go into real estate?

Jordan: I was almost killed during my tour in Iraq. While being pursued by the enemy, my vehicle threw me out and ran me over. I sustained severe head injuries, a coma and near amputation of my right leg. Because I was unable to lead a platoon, I was honorably discharged. Once I recovered from my injuries, I was hired at CBRE through their Junior Military Officer program.

For a long time, I was unsure where I would end up in this life. I have an MBA in Global Management, yet I’m working in commercial real estate. It doesn’t make sense, and yet it doesn’t have to. God has me on a path, and I try to make sure that the choices I make every day are the right ones. When I misstep, He finds a way to get me back in step. Where He will lead me next, who knows, but I’m excited about it!

4word: How did your tours of duty stretch you personally? Spiritually?

Jordan: My time in the Army has changed me completely. Being in a place like Iraq is surreal. You don’t realize how much in harm’s way you are until years later when you’re home and have time to reflect. Now, I realize what’s really important (family, faith and friendship), and I feel very blessed to be here.

I also know Who has kept me here, and I am so blessed to be as strong as I am because of Him. I’ve learned that you have to be more than what happens to you. By that, I mean that I have chosen not to let my experiences in Iraq be the entire story of me. I still have a lot to accomplish and learn about myself. For me, Iraq is a large chapter of my life, but it will never be the most important one. I think God has kept me here for something greater.

Another lesson I learned is that scars are a gift. I sometimes find myself proud of my scars and grateful for what lies behind them. Many service members get tattoos to signify past missions. I always say that I’ve saved a lot of money by telling my story through my scars, not my tattoos.

4word:  Is there a particular Bible verse or passage that stuck with you or really helped you during your tour in Iraq? Which one and why?

Jordan: When I was deployed overseas in a warzone, I kept God in my heart and focused on the day-to-day duties. When you’re at war, you can easily become bitter, angry and untrusting of others. I wanted to remind myself that God is love. I kept Him near my heart to remind me to live in love.

I also constantly focused on the Army Values to remind me why I was in Iraq: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. We were leading others into a difficult time, and I always wanted to focus on these things, to never lose sight of the mission.

When I got home and was healing from my injuries, I always referred to the first three lines of the Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

It really helped me at the darkest time in my life to realize that God is in control, and that I should just put all my hurts and doubts in His hands.

4word: In your opinion, what are some ways that our readers can honor and show gratitude for those who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces?

Jordan: The main way I can think of is to listen. Listen to what veterans have experienced. It sounds simple, but veterans have stories that are worth listening to. I feel humbled and honored every time I meet someone with an amazing story who has fought before me or is fighting now.

I have been blessed to always have had a strong faith in God, but for those who have not, you can see their struggle. If my experience, tears and faith can help others, then I’m glad I listen, so I can continue to be of service.


 Have you ever been through an intense trial or struggle that changed the plans you had made? Let us know in the comments.