Below is a Facebook essay I wrote a couple weeks after The Warrior left on his first deployment, in November 2011. Is it possible to have peace despite war? I argue that yes, it is.
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Before The Warrior left for Afghanistan, he gave me a book for my birthday called Bulletproof: The Making of an Invincible Mind by former Airborne Army Ranger Chuck Holton. He told me it was for “the road ahead” and I began reading it after he left. I have already found a wealth of encouragement in the first few chapters by Mr. Holton, who takes his inspiration from the Bible itself. The book challenges the reader on what “safety” really means. Can a person be “safe” during a combat deployment? Not according to the world’s definition, but in God they can be safe.
Another idea that Mr. Holton poses which seems to be a dichotomy is the fact that we can have peace during a deployment. What? How can I be peaceful when my man is fighting a war?? we might ask ourselves incredulously. How can we feel peace when every time we see him on Skype, he has a loaded M-4 slung over his shoulder? How can we feel peace when he tells us he went on a long combat foot patrol and describes it as a “wild night”? How can we feel peace when his base or post is getting shelled by the Taliban? How can we feel peace when we read about more U.S. soldiers getting killed in Afghanistan?
These aren’t speculations – these are real instances that I have already experienced since he deployed just two weeks ago, and I’m sure other military wives have experienced nearly identical moments. It seems contrary to reason to feel peace when we hear or see such things, doesn’t it?
Some people might call it naivete, but I have never been controlled by fear over The Warrior deploying. Almost a year ago, we watched the amazing but eye-opening documentary Restrepo, produced by National Geographic: 15 months with an Army unit in the deadly Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. After it ended, I knew more about war, but felt it was weird that I was still not scared about him going. I had formerly gotten the impression from various sources that the normal military wife was supposed to freak out over her husband’s deployment, and maybe even have the right to be pouty because “no one else understands!”
But I wasn’t planning on feeling or doing that. Sure, I knew I’d have my moments – I’d be lying if I said I’ve never felt stressed out or worried. I have. But it always passes; it is only a moment in my life, not my entire life. I can honestly say that the overall emotion surrounding this deployment has been peace, and I never completely understood why until I read what Mr. Holton had to say about it, on page 65:
“Peace is not the absence of tribulation. God offers to be our peace in the midst of hardship.”
I read that last night and thought, That is the answer I’ve been looking for! That explains how I feel. Our lives don’t have to be ideal in order to have peace. In fact, having an ideal life does not equal peace. Instead, we know that no matter what happens to us or our soldier, we are safe if we are in God’s grace.
Possessing this peace has also led me to be more thankful and I find myself being more appreciative of everyday things. Yesterday I was in Hobby Lobby, and I passed the Christmas decoration aisles as Christmas music played over the loudspeakers, and I smiled to myself: The Warrior would be loving this right now. He might even take in a deep breath and note how it smells like the “Santa Scent” he was trying so hard to find last year. As I drive along a suburban street donning fall colors, or pass a sporting field with soccer kids at practice, I feel thankful because he and our troops help make it possible to live these peaceful moments, ordinary though they may be.
Deployment is not fun, for either the soldier or those on the homefront, and it is very hard and tribulating. But the All-Powerful, All-Loving God has conquered sin and death – and deployment – and is present in our lives to be our Anchor in the storm. He didn’t promise there would never be crushing waves, but He has promised to never leave us even when they are overwhelming…and THAT is what brings us true peace.