Monday, April 19, 2010

That folded flag

I have a figment of terror in the back of my mind at all times. I usually don't think about it, because the terror is crippling if I allow it to be. I know terror's a strong word, but it's there in a small dose. I'm afraid of the folded flag. I'm afraid of the crisp white dress blues uniform and the starched white hat with the gloves and the shoes, and the face of strength while my world crumbles before me. I run from the dreams in which Marine friends that we have will hold me and I'll be unable to eat by myself, because when your spouse dies, your first reaction isn't "oh well, God's still number one." Your first reaction is "I'm ruined. I have no reason to breathe. How can I possibly continue?" I've seen enough spouses lose service members to know. I'm friends with them and I don't have words for them, because pity doesn't help, words don't help, and silence in times like that are deadly, as if we're afraid of waking the deceased.

I am so beyond terrified of being another widow (not to be confused with a fear of death itself, because I am not afraid of death), pursuing strength as a full time career despite the obvious note that a doctorate in Strength accounts for no higher pay, no holidays, and no sick time. I wrestled with my fear for two deployments, hoping it wouldn't be the beginning of many more to come, rising to and joyfully accepting the challenges that come with being the anchor of the EGA.

The world likes the fearless; the ones with the good stories for headlines from which gossip hungry news anchors can go home to their tv dinner kids with steady paychecks and talk about football. And so the widows try to be fearless, hoping that a false sense of assurance and a quick mona lisa smile might steer them clear of constant crowds, but inside they are empty carcasses, having become fully dependent on what was good and 'easy complaining' the day before when they'd argue at Motomail for being slow, or the flat rate boxes for being just a little too small for their next care package agenda. Deployments drive these motions, and we all secretly anticipate a joyful call from a satelite phone explaining in detail the expressions of the opened goodie box.

Why don't churches teach people how to care for widows? We're all so focused on salvation for the sake of advancing God's kingdom that when a person becomes a widow and salvation needs to come in a package of tenderness, lovingkindness, patience, peace, and comfort, it's as if the world says "Oh we have counseling for that. Do you need dinner though? I'll make you a casserole. Let me get the church office on the phone for you. Oh. It's after hours. We'll have to wait until tomorrow." That's how it must feel to have a world shut its door on you. I think that's how I'll feel when my husband dies. And get this. My husband is saved. He doesn't hear God the way I hear Him, but he does God's will when he hears it, and he's strong. He's my protector. He's my encyclopedia.

It's 2324 and I have no reason to be on this subject except that while I was searching blogs for Marine wives to converse with, I came across A Little Pink in a World of Camo. Can you imagine being a widow for a month and just finally receiving your husband's personal items, including a note you wrote him that he kept in his pocket? The poor girl's got a new baby girl of her own, too, whom her husband wasn't able to meet. KIA is what they call it.

It is wrong for me to feel guilty for having a husband who's alive? I kind of do. I kind of want to take some of her burden, but I can't. She doesn't know I exist. Her blog is all over the internet, along with another blog about a girl who is my age, who divorced her husband, a wounded Marine. I don't know how it got so bad for that to be their best option. She has so many blog entries it's hard to find "the one" that spilled the information.

I think I'd feel like a widow if I divorced. I'm not tempted. Never have been. Some might find that strange after reading some of my darker posts, but the God's honest truth is that I've become so enveloped in my husband's life, I can't even think a complete thought without my husband involved (or God for that matter). How do people do it? Honestly... can a marriage be so bad that you're willing to break the closest relationship you've ever had with someone, the most meaningful, just to say "I stopped loving him" or "it got too bad." I know how naive and ignorant this sounds. Trust me I do. I'm coming from an understanding that marriage is forever. It's not a fad as popular belief would have it be. It's not a contract, as many military marriages are. Yes, I got married in the middle of the woods after writing letters to him for only 2 and a half months, having never met him before, but look at what I've/we've been through together since then, and STILL we want to be together forever?! I think my only conclusion is this: As often as people divorce for the wrong reasons, many people marry for the wrong reasons.

Someday my family might take back the words they spoke to me. "If you marry him now, he's going to go to Iraq, and he's going to die there, and then you'll be a single pregnant mother. Is that what you want?" That's what I was told at my most vulnerable moment. I've forgiven, but I haven't forgotten. I can't. I may need to remind myself of the strength I had to get through that when harder stuff happens. Harder stuff has happened, but I know the hardest is yet to come.

Two powerful blogs are speaking volumes to the world, and here I am as a third eye and humble woman, having no idea how it is that my visitor counter jumps by about 100 every day, hoping that what I say may have an impact in a good way. I wonder what they would think if they read my blog. I wonder what a lot of people think.

It simply breaks my heart to see marriages die. Becoming a widow is one thing, but giving up is another. I want to tell you something. God doesn't give up on people. God doesn't ruin your life. I mean, judgment, yea, He does that, but usually, we ruin our own lives. Don't blame God on a failed marriage. It's not His fault. He offers salvation and you blame Him? He offers peace, He offers love, and He offers comfort, and yet so often we are tempted to run the other way, take the easy and drastically more painful and destructive way out, signing our name on a paper saying "I'm done with you." If God wrote us off that easily, we'd all be going to hell. But He doesn't. Those of you who haven't found that void in your heart that God wants to and can fill won't agree with this, but let me pick on you a bit. What will fill that void? Alcohol? Shopping? Pornography? Social gatherings? Food? Lust? Sex? Money? A new job? A new house? A move? Nothing will fill the void. The answer is nothing. If you want restoration and comfort in the purest and most meaningful and lasting way possible, you'll find it in God through Jesus. I know this. I'm living proof. I didn't have to go through divorce to know it. It's in God's word.

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