Today, marks the end of the Military Ministries series here on LBOC. I hope you are inspired to do a little more for those who have done so much for us.
This is Rachel’s story:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
It was a Saturday in October 2009; I was stepping out of my comfort zone onto a bus headed to Walter Reed Medical Center with several others from my church, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. I signed up to volunteer months before not concerned or giving thought to my struggles with anxiety. The day had come and I realized I wasn’t prepared for what I would possibly face. It was like I was headed for battle. This battle, I was creating of course.
Nevertheless, I was quite apprehensive and uncertain of what to expect. War wounds festering, limbs lost, exposure to all types of injuries and damaged soldiers. All these thoughts started to make me feel anxious, out of control and unsure if this was something I could handle. I began to doubt myself and my strength to pull through these types of anxious moments.
As I stepped onto the bus I began to pray selfishly for myself that I would make it through the day. I mean, here I am going to serve those who made extreme sacrifices for me and the least I could do was pray for them and their troubles. I realize now the selfish foot I had started out on that day. There were men and women with troubles far more life threatening and serious than mine but all I could hold on to were my worries and anxiety.
When I stepped off the bus the warm sun had invited me to notice the beauty of the day. It was an unseasonably warm, sunny, colorful fall morning. I became conscious of the fact I was there to complete a mission, and from there on, that would be my focus. After setting up and finding my place next to a hot, smoky grill with some newfound church friends and my boss (also a very dear friend) who talked me into signing up for this adventure, the soldiers began to arrive. At that moment a new feeling came over me. Instead of wanting to run away or fade into the background, I was moved to interact more with the men and women we were there to serve. I had a desire to talk to them and get to know their stories.
As I began speaking with one of the soldiers I found myself no longer anxious but gracious for this opportunity to serve someone who was wounded for serving us. There were no outward scars to scare me away. He was a normal man, mid 20’s with a Texas accent and a drive to serve. This had been his second time at Walter Reed. My prayer is that it was his last, and he is now home safe with his family. Although I don’t remember all the details of our conversation I do know that he was the best ice breaker of the day. Our conversation was pleasant and he didn’t call me out on my secret selfishness or point out that my anxiety is nothing compared to what he had been through. Though I kept those thoughts to myself, had he been able to read minds, he would have had every right to call me out.
After stepping out and moving past an anxious morning I decided to walk around and see where I could be of service. As I watched soldiers come and go I realized there was nothing scary about this experience. This was a moment to cherish. I began to see them for who they really were minus the injuries and ailments. I began to look at them and appreciate them like I never had before. The courage they possessed to have been through what they have and to put themselves in a situation that could and did cause them harm is beyond honorable.
I spoke to a few other soldiers that day, listened to some of their stories on where they’d been, where they were going, what was next, and thought about the battle of my own I had put myself through prior to these conversations. They had real wounds and faced real problems, but after speaking to a few of them I see the foundation which we all had in common. That foundation was, and is, God.
My boss, whose name is Jan, and I befriended one of the soldiers and handed him a card to come see us at the hair salon if ever he was in need of a free haircut and a good church. Then in January 2010, in walks that same soldier into our salon who in October was wheelchair ridden. There he was walking upright and doing well. We cut his hair for free of course, invited him to church and showed him off that next Sunday. He was our soldier friend from Walter Reed who is now a member at our church and doing quite well. He had been through a war, a serious injury, finding a job in an economy where jobs are limited, and some other obstacles I’m sure, but with God’s help defeated the odds against him.
My experience allowed me to put my battles into perspective. I grasp that we may all be fighting wars, whether it be our own or someone else’s, but these soldiers do it freely to keep us safe here at home. I don’t believe the battles I create have the same effect. I do believe that no matter what they are or how they are created the battles we overcome are won with the strength that can only come from the one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, so we would not have to suffer, and death would not be our end.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us and these men and women are a great example of unselfish service and sacrifice for their country. Freedom is not free when someone is dying to allow you to attain it. I was able to overcome the same anxiety that used to keep me home bound to serve those who deserve it the most and I give the glory to the God that gives me the strength to overcome any obstacle that hinders me from doing His work.
Military Ministries Series Links:
Inspiration for “Wedded to War,” by Jocelyn Green (about her upcoming novel to be released July 1, 2012)
24 Ways to Put Military Ministry into Action
Invisible Battle, by Jocelyn Green
Broken by War, Saved by Grace
Rachel is a hair stylist at Cut Loose in Edgewater, MD. She lives in Harwood with her wonderful husband Deryck and their adorable German Shepherd Gemma. She is passionate about writing and reaching people for Jesus. Her inspiration comes from life struggles and God inspired moments. God put it on her heart as a young girl to write, and as she matures in her writing her hope is to one day reach her goal of becoming a published author.