The Least Able and the Least Willing

Moses was called by God to lead the people to the promised land. In a very unique way, God spoke through a burning bush. One bush. One voice. One calling. Moses did not feel ready or able to do what he was called to do. He stuttered. He wasn’t exactly a social butterfly, yet he submitted to the calling beyond himself. Rahab was a prostitute that saved Joshua and his mighty army. Noah drank. David committed adultery and was a murderer. Jonah ran from God, and was swallowed by a big fish before he was willing to submit to the will of God. While I will never presume to know why me and why this story, I have known from the very start that this was the answer to the prayer I had for five years before Phil was killed.

For five years, I felt that I was being called for something more. I didn’t know what it was and even Phil thought I was already doing it by working with so many youth. I loved my role as a teacher, coach, mentor, but I knew that there was something bigger coming. It all clicked on 27 April 2011. As I dropped to my knees keening, the first thought I had was how could I claim to have faith if in my darkest hour I turned from the very faith I professed. I chose without thought and what came next was what I was called for.

At every juncture, I have sought to do the right thing whether it be to get the media off of my children, to provide a steadying way ahead for the cadets or my students, or to speak out for change for families coming after me. Even in my brokenness, that voice came from somewhere other than myself. I certainly did not see myself in a role of speaking, writing, mentoring on loss. It scared me. It still does at times.

Some people do not understand and call into question the very fire and voice that I have always recognized that is not my own. No matter how often I try to run from it, I feel a purpose and a calling that I cannot deny. Why can’t it be someone else? I never needed the invitations to the White House, the television and radio interviews, the published research, or the speaking. I wish it was as simple as all of that. My calling and purpose does not mean I am stuck in my past, but it does mean that my present is about those who need my voice the most. I do honor the man who gave me that voice, but this journey is about more than that. More than that.

Some will never understand and will seek to destroy the heart, but faith is the essence of things not seen, yet believed in. I believe even as I stand bent. How can I be so confident? It isn’t always easy, but there have been those burning bushes for me. People reaching out–complete strangers–to tell me how my words impacted them. Policies have changed. One reluctant and weak voice tells a powerful story that causes people to listen. Why? It isn’t my story. not at all. It is Phil’s story and my past of being a wife of an enlisted man and then an officer, raising children in the military system who grew up to be military. It is about the story of being a key spouse. It is the life of being a wife and then not being a wife. It is the story of being a Blue Star mom and wife and then being the mom of medically retired son and a Gold Star spouse. If not me, then whom? But….why me?

It is easy to say that I should be done, but the reality is that there is still so many stumbling on this path. This path isn’t just about the losses like mine, but what of the families who struggle with the stigma of suicide, walking on egg shells due to PTSD, sexual assault victims, divorces brought on by the unraveling of families from multiple deployments, and it is about the family costs of serving. Perhaps there will be some who do not understand. That is okay. I am not doing it for approval or for understanding. Those that know me the best recognize the woman that I am and the calling I have. I wish it had been another person, but God called the least able and capable. Perhaps that is the story.

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