I am tickled pink to invite Tracy Steel to By His Grace this week! We had a great time on the podcast, Tracy and I talk about the struggle of being a military wife on the move. Tracy provides some practical tips on how to make friends fast and build community and we dive deep into what God has taught her in Episode 32: Tracy Steel: On the Move. Today I welcome Tracy to the blog to talk about letting go of her husband as he leaves to go on a mission.
Please welcome Tracy Steel!
Why I let my husband go… so that others may live
By Tracy Steel
When I started dating my handsome Air Force pilot back in 2007, others warned me to consider marrying him carefully. It had nothing to do with him, personally. But because military life is not the easiest type of lifestyle. Not growing up in a military family, I honestly had no idea what I was walking into. Or what I would be asking my future children to walk through. But I fell in love with Chad Steel anyway. Regardless of his rank or the uniform he wears, my husband is a mighty man of faith and character. And he is hawt. Yes, I know this is not the correct way to spell the word “hot”, but he is VERY handsome, so he gets his own spelling of the word. I am thankful Misty has not edited this important detail from this paragraph.
Chad and I have been married for eleven years now and have moved six times during those eleven years. We have two beautiful children, and as I shared on the podcast the one thing that has truly has kept me going and guided me throughout our marriage with all of its moves and time apart is my faith in Christ.
So early on in our marriage, as like within the first month, I had to face a reality that I didn’t want to think about. At that point in our marriage, God had called my husband to fight a physical enemy is a physical battle. And there was a possibility that he may not come back home alive to me after a future deployment. Talk about taking me to a whole new level of trust with God! But as I worked through this in the months and years that followed, my perspective started to change. Which was good, for two years later I had to hold my husband in my arms as tears fell from his eyes. He had made it back, but others did not.
Here is what happened and what God has helped me to see….
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. Once again, I noticed his 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. It didn’t matter that I had never met her before. I wept, because 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 interesting. For example, the military moves us every 2-3 years. This has provided us with incredible new friends from all over the United States who love and support us. We are truly blessed.
Unfortunately, despite the many blessings, military life has also created a few challenges for me. Given that our country has been at war for a while now, I grow weary of the impending deployments that are ever-present in our daily reality. I have allowed fear, the fear of my husband dying in combat, to haunt me at times. I especially struggled with this during our first year of marriage, when I had become pregnant right before my new husband was sent overseas. Several years later, we attended the memorial service I mentioned above, and my fears resurfaced.
What I have come 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 what he trained for. He and the rest of his crew members are ready to sacrifice everything, so “that others may live.” This truth touches my heart and quiets my fear. Deployments take on a new meaning when I keep this in the forefront in my mind.
Additionally, in the process of overcoming, I re-examined my beliefs pertaining to death. As a Christian, it reminds me that death is not to be feared. I have trusted in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me on the cross. I believe that death is not the end for me, it is only the beginning. As Easter approaches, I am reminded that Jesus’ empty tomb took the sting of death away. Because my husband believes the same, his deployments take on a new meaning once again.
Let me be clear: I am not claiming to be Superwoman. I know that this fear will rise again. Why will it? Because I am human, that is why! I want to grow old with Chad. I want to watch our children mature and become the people God created them to be. I am human, but by working through my fear, I have realized the wondrous calling that God has given to my husband, and am reminded that my faith will sustain me should I become the heart-broken wife speaking into the microphone one day.
And if Chad and I do get to grow old together, then I pray that I will never forget June 17th, 2010. It taught me not to take any moments with my husband for granted. It reminded me of how precious life is, and that I have to let my husband deploy in order to preserve it.
This post is also dedicated to my fellow military wives. May you be encouraged as you wait for your husband to return home. For those who have buried their hero, I grieve your loss. May you experience God’s comfort for the rest of your days.
Tracy Steel graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in interior design in 1998 and has a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Phoenix Seminary. As a project designer, Tracy created and coordinated the design and space planning of commercial spaces for clients such as Bank One, Wells Fargo, Express Scripts, DHS, and Lockheed Martin. Moving from one type of interior design to another, Tracy then worked in full-time youth ministry, serving as the director of female students at Scottsdale Bible Church.
God’s true design for Tracy now involves improving the interior space of the hearts and minds of women around her. This military wife and mother of two enjoys linking up with other bloggers, leading Bible studies at her local church, and speaking at various moms’ groups and women’s ministries events nationwide.
She is also the author of A Redesigned Life, and Images of His Beauty, a 10-week Bible study for young women that focuses on identity, overcoming and healing through Christ, and bearing the image of Christ.
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