It has been a while.
I’d like to say I’ve been waiting on God, and the reason I haven’t uttered a word in this place is because I have been waiting on just the right words.
A wise friend of mine recently posted these words,
Waiting is not passive. It’s active. We wait with head erect, neck outstretched – expecting God’s answer at any moment, from any direction.
However, the truth just dawned on me. I have been waiting, but more than that, I have been muted by the pain I see all around us. I mean, what in the world does some mom have to say that can change the way we see this suffering world? I could barely see clearly to the end of a hell hot summer in Vegas.
How in this world tearing at the seams can we find anything at all to say that hasn’t already been screamed or spewed or vomited all over the internet?
People are angry. People are afraid. People are fed up. And everyone around us seems to have every answer, and no answer at all.
It seems as my faith grows, so does my pain in seeing the suffering. So, I find myself just wanting to be quiet.
What can we say to the grieving wife of a warrior lost too soon? I remember last month, the day I heard the jet went down. I remember waking in the night before any word had surfaced of his fate. I woke in a cold sweat and went with heart racing fear into deep prayer,
Please, God, please let him survive. He has a wife. And two daughters. Please show us he ejected safely from that Eagle. Please…
Though I didn’t know him, I know his best friends. Though I don’t know her, I know too many widows who have suffered the same tragedy. Though I have thankfully never heard that knock at the front door, I have feared it from the moment I set eyes on my own warrior. The reality falls around us and our hearts break one piece more with every tragedy that crosses our lives.
Just days later, another report. Another warrior, and this time his brother with him. Black ribbons stream across my Facebook and I wonder why again this life so young. Why, again, grieving widows and orphaned children?
And again, another week gone by, a step closer to our door. The call from my warrior,
Have you read the email? I’m in shock…
A warrior brother to my own pilot. Every time we go to this place of shock, disbelief, and mourning; it rattles our core just a bit more.
I took my kids to the photo hanging on our wall. This young bride glowing next to her beaming Captain. My face went to the mischievous grin of a sword bearer – knowing the whack to the rear of the princess bride was approaching.
Just one of many traditions in the military. The magnificent arch of swords welcomes the newly married couple. Just as they are about to emerge into this new life together, the swords close in front of them. This – the cue to kiss this unsuspecting warrior wife – is followed by the raising of the swords. Just as the two enter into this daunting world of deployments, and wars, and battles, and separations; the lovely wife gets a smack. Right on her ass. How apropos for a welcome into the reality of military wife life.
I looked into the glimmer on the face of our friend and whispered,
Why you, too?
My warrior walked in the door that night, swarmed by the squeezing arms of young children. I prepared them for Daddy’s sadness. But these warriors, you see, they’ve been there many times. They lose many comrades. And the thing about this – these comrades are more than friends. They are brothers. Even the ones we don’t know.
The family tree is strong having weathered a similar journey together – divided only by lines on a map. Our hearts bleed for each other as though we are given this one chamber of our hearts to share. We bleed into each other, and carry the families of the fallen. The bond can hardly be described to anyone else. But we can look into each others’ eyes and know.
When he saw me, dish towel and dinner in hand, his stride approached me with the precision targeting they learn like the beating of their own hearts. And his heart bled on my shoulder.
You see, every time, every story, every man lost – the faces waiting on the other side pry open the barrier between earth and heaven to remind us of the wounds our shared heart chamber has suffered. Every face, every call sign, every brother-in-arms gone too soon lights up our memories like exploding bombs. And it never gets easier. In fact, it gets harder.
Because here is the secret we all know…
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. ~ GK Chesterton
Our warriors go to the gates of hell because they love. And when they go to battle for us, they bond with their brothers in ways we can never completely understand. These friendships forged in the fire of battle burn holes to the core and leave singed scars until they come face to face again.
With every step in my faith – and those strides have grown by the grace of God – my heart aches more for the suffering.
Perhaps it’s this.
The pain invades our souls more with every subsequent blow, because we know. We know sometimes the only way to wake the sleeping soul is to rattle it awake. Our spirits won’t grow stronger in the slumber. Our souls can’t learn in the comfort of downy covers. Our souls won’t come alive without the truth that this life is fleeting.
Our faith will not grow without seeing that we just can’t see with our eyes anymore. Perhaps the only way to really see, is by closing our eyes to this dimly lit world and allowing Him to finally show us the truth. The blinding light beyond what we can see here. The truth in the reality is beyond our comprehension.
We can listen in the stillness of heartache, in the storms of worry and fear. We can close our eyes to what we think we know, and open our hearts to the truth our weary souls are dying to hear.
Then, our spirits will soar… on wings like eagles.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.