I could feel the lump in my throat. The silence was deafening. The American flag looked stunning as it waved against the cloudless sky.
A lone trumpet began to play.
My husband’s shaky hand grabbed my own hand that was filled with crumpled tissues. As I turned to look him, I saw tears streaming down his cheeks. I did not want them to touch his flight suit, so I quickly wiped them away.
I noticed the silver wings placed across his upper left chest and over his heart. To the world they are symbols of his heroism and dedication to protecting our great nation. To me, they symbolize his flights in combat and his return home, alive. As I pondered this, my own tears began to fall.
As one of my fellow Air Force wives made her way up to the microphone, I began to weep. We were at her husband’s memorial service. On June 17th, 2010, we honored a hero that willingly gave his life, so “that others may live.”
“It is my duty as an Air Rescueman to save life and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts. These things I do, that others may live.” Brig Gen Richard Kight
This is the actual motto of the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) community of the US Air Force. Being a part of this community, and the military in general has certainly made our lives exciting. Despite the many benefits (like meeting friends all over the country and discounted Disneyland tickets), military life has created a few challenges for me.
Given that our country has been at war for a while now, I am weary of impending deployments that are ever present in our daily reality. I had allowed fear, the fear of my husband dying in battle, to haunt me- especially during our first year of marriage when I had become pregnant right before my new husband deployed overseas.
I remember thinking: what if my husband is killed in action- what do I do now? How am I to go on living without him?
After our wedding, I moved away from the church family and friends I dearly loved. Sitting alone in an empty house was a challenge for this likes-to-be-busy-extroverted gal. Gone were the familiar faces and ministry opportunities that filled my schedule and my heart. Gone was the man I started to build a new life and family with. I felt lost, insignificant, and lonely.
Later that year, my husband did return from deployment. I did survive a difficult pregnancy, fixing a broken air conditioner and garage door, and many lonely nights without him. It wasn’t pretty, but by God’s grace we survived our first year of marriage.
Several years later, we attended the memorial service I mentioned above, and my fears resurfaced. Via continued prayer and support from loved ones, I was able to overcome my fear once again.
What God has helped me to learn about this particular area of my life is this: if my husband does not deploy, someone else’s husband, father, son, or brother may not come back from combat alive. This is his mission. He and the rest of his crewmembers are ready to sacrifice everything, so “that others may live.”
June 17th, 2010, reminded me of how precious life is and that my husband deploys to preserve it. My heart perspective about his deployments and other business trips changes when I retain this in the forefront in my mind.
Every time we are apart is another opportunity for me to release my fear into God’s sovereign hands. I can either hold onto fear or release it. Hold on or release. Hold on or release.
Sisters, I am tired of holding on. Instead of asking God to change my husband’s mission, I am asking Him to help me react differently to my husband’s mission.
And I trust that my faith in Him will sustain me should I become the heart-broken wife speaking into the microphone one day…
Tracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force. Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. She also enjoys chasing their two children, Jackson (5) and Katherine (3), throughout their toy-infested home. Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at www.onedegreeministries.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OneDegreeMinistries, or chat with her via twitter @tracy_steel