[Note: I actually wrote most of this the day after Ash Wednesday, but I just haven’t had time to post it till now!!]
This past Wednesday, February 22, began the first day of the 2012 season of Lent. As many Catholics did, I went to Mass and received ashes on my forehead and wore them the rest of the day.
Before Mass began at noon, I read a couple devotions out of the book Faith Deployed by Jocelyn Green, a military wife. Each devotion has been so helpful, encouraging, and relevant to me as a military wife-to-be, as a woman who is supporting and loving her deployed soldier. The meditation I read was entitled “No Fear in His Peace” by a contributing military wife, Lori Mumford. She writes, “God doesn’t promise that bad things won’t befall His children. We will go through storms, but He will be with us. The winds will rage around us, but He is eager to calm our spirits.” (p. 193)
As I knelt there, I focused myself on praying…I thought about what it really means to have peace during a deployment. I have always had a peace that The Warrior will be okay, that God will protect him, and I believe that peace came from God. But then I started wondering, Why do some women’s prayers go seemingly unanswered and their husbands or sons are killed or seriously wounded? Why does God seem to unceasingly protect some soldiers but others He lets die? And most of those that died were probably good, morally-upstanding, honorable people. Why? How can we believe that God was protecting them?
As I turned these problems over in my head and prayers, I had a revelation: no matter what happens to The Warrior, he is always being kept safe in God’s hand, even if the worst should happen. Why? Because then, he would be even more safe and peaceful than if he came back to his earthly homeland. For awhile I couldn’t stop thinking about this truth. Yes, God protects us always…as Chuck Holton says in his book Bulletproof, we are “bulletproof” until God calls us home…which basically means: He is sovereign, and death does not mean the end of all things. In reality, it’s only the beginning of living more fully.
Later in the day, I checked The Warrior’s Facebook wall and saw that he had posted quite a long status: a quote from the sage Native American, Tecumseh. I love how he is always posting philosophical, religious, or thought-provoking quotes on his wall, and this one really stirred in me after meditating on what I just described in Mass. I had read this in the recent past (in the book On Combat), but it has a certain power and emotional quality to it when it’s your loved one posting it from the war zone:
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word and sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. Live right so when it comes your time to die, you will not be like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, who weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” ~Tecumseh
I know all of this to be true, and it’s a beautiful quote and something to live by. But yet I still feel selfish. I want, with ALL my heart, for him to come back to the United States and not to some unearthly home that I can’t get to yet. I want him to be with me for a good while; to get married, to have a family, to make an impact in this world….I do not want God to take him away. Essentially this sounds like I don’t want him to die for his country, even though that is THE most noble and honorable thing a soldier could do. When I think about it in those terms it makes me feel selfish and horribly unpatriotic. But isn’t it the natural thing to want him back??
“Man, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
On Thursday, I read that two American troops were killed by an Afghan National Army soldier, the very people The Warrior interacts with every day. I froze looking at the headline link, wanting to know yet at the same time afraid to click…but I did. I have to know what the hell is going on…and when I say hell, it really is hell over there. Again today, I read online that two more US troops were killed, this time by who they think was an Afghan police officer. But thankfully, everything is fine with The Warrior, and I got to see his handsome face and hear his wonderful, mid-western-accented voice today on Skype. :)
It’s important for military wives to cherish every moment they get to speak with their soldier. It’s important to never fight during a deployment, for two reasons: 1) it is unhealthy and could turn out to be dangerous for your soldier to be upset, angry, or distracted by strife happening at home. Their first priority is survival, and the spouse plays a very big role in that, actually. Positivity is a MUST. And 2) as morbid as this might sound, you never know if that phone call is the last time you speak with him. For most of us, it won’t be the last, but you just never know. So, as Matthew West says in his song “The Heart of Christmas”: “Live while you can, cherish the moment. The ones that you love, make sure they know it.” (I know, we’re in Lent, but that just came to me!)
And so, as we begin this holy season of Lent, of penance, of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, let us do it with a joyful heart…with the peace that only comes from Christ, no matter what our circumstances. The past XX months have kind of already been like Lent for me, praying, waiting, challenging myself to work hard, so I will continue in that. I have my prayers and wishes for The Warrior to come home, of course, but to keep that in perspective, I must remember that no matter what happens, God holds him safely in the palm of His hand.
“You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord
who abide in His shadow for life,
say to the Lord: ‘My refuge,
my God in whom I trust!’
And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun,
and hold you in the palm of His hand.”
~On Eagles Wings
Blessed Lent, my dear readers,