My story…..is tightly woven into my love story. What a man…what a GOD…and oh what a story of FORGIVENESS. I am recycling an old post to link up with the precious Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday.
The year was 1968.
He was barely 19 by just a few days when he received his mandatory invitation from Uncle Sam.
Life was simple….. but he was far from a simple boy.
Talent, smarts and personality oozed from every pore of his body.
Required to report within 21 days, he left his boyhood behind.
After 12 months of combat training he stepped off the plane in Chu Lai, Vietnam.
All he could see on the tarmac were thousands of body bags laying side by side for three lengths of a football field.
Fear struck his heart….
He told himself he would never make it home.
His boots hit the jungle ground running.
His daily goal was just to survive to see the sun rise.
He once went 3 weeks without taking his boots off.
When I asked why?
He said you didn’t want to get caught with your boots off.
When he finally removed them ….the medic had to strip the socks from his skin.
The nights were sleepless.
The smells were endless.
The noise was miserably deafening.
The sights were horribly unforgettable.
The emotional and physical stress took its toil….
He had his first taste of liquor to cope.
One by one he watched his friends die.
He was one of the lucky three that survived his squad.
The tactical missions occupied his mind…..
Shifting his focus from the prospect of death.
Once after an intense night of battle….
He carried a dead GI on his back until he met up with the medi-vac helicopter.
You never forget that kind of weight….he says….
It’s a weight that lays heavy in the mind….
It’s a weight you still feel 44 years later.
Every 3 weeks his squad would go to the rear, aka command base, for a precious 3 day rest from death and destruction….
That’s where he learned to drink in order to numb the stress.
He tells stories of GI’S who shot themselves in the leg or got food poisoning on purpose…
He laughs about one soldier who actually tried to fake being crazy…..
These were the ones who would suffer being a coward rather than face the alternative.
The gruesome images he saw….are still prominent in his memories.
The desperation of surviving affected him in ways he could never imagine.
There are times he is still in survival mode even today.
The shock of all his senses engrossed in the worst horror story you can imagine….
Is who he is….at the most unexpected recollection.
He was wounded…
They patched him up and sent him back to the jungle a few months later.
Again….he fought to live….
Day in and day out…
Fighting for a people who for the most part….
Didn’t appreciate the effort…
Or the sacrifices.
He managed to survive….
He managed to come home….
But he wasn’t the same simple boy who left at the tender age of 19.
He came home and turned to alcohol more and more.
He worked hard and long hours during the day…..
He partied hard and long hours into the night…..
Every hour of productivity or leisure was occupied with anything to ease the memories.
I met him in 1985.
I didn’t know it then….but he was still broken from the war…. 15 years later.
He was a functioning alcoholic.
A good one too.
He was the life of the party….
But after we married…
The party was getting old to me….
Especially after the first baby came on the scene.
I just wanted to be normal….
But he couldn’t give me normal because he was carrying the weight of an unresolved emotional trauma.
Statistics cite severe drug and alcohol problems for 60-80% of Vietnam veterans.
Divorce rates hover around 90 percent.
Somewhere around 58,000 Vietnam vets died in combat….
Over 150,000 have committed suicide since the war ended.
Over 500,000 have been arrested or incarcerated.
It is estimated that approximately 100,000 are in prison and over 200,000 are on parole.
These 800,000 men will never get back what they lost.
They will never know normal….
At least in the way it was before it was taken from them.
My veteran gave up so much promise….
So much hope….
So many dreams that have never been reborn.
He lived with years of pain….
Years of functioning dysfunction….
Years of guilt.
Until it all caught up with him….
And the self-destructible behavior cost him everything.
You see that’s what happens when we can’t cope with the pain….
The horror of the past….
Man self -destructs.
Interceding prayers made the difference in my vets life.
There were numerous….a too many to mention, faithful prayer warriors…..who prayed for him.
Then one day….
When he could bear the burden no longer….
He surrendered to JESUS.
When the bible talks about a new creation being born at salvation…..
My vet instantly became a new creation.
What rehab couldn’t do….
What an undying love from a faithful young bride couldn’t do…..
Nothing the world could offer helped him in anyway….
But JESUS did.
Immediately his countenance was different.
Immediately his heart was light…
His smile was bright….
His soul was at peace.
I will never forget the conversation we had a few years back…..
He talked about how the LORD had removed all the guilt of what he had to do to survive the hell hole of Vietnam.
“All that guilt…and worry….the faces I used to dream about…it’s all gone, GOD took all that from me when he saved me, I am FORGIVEN,” he said.
GOD also took his desire for alcohol away.
He has been sober for 23 years.
What GOD has done in his life is nothing short of a miracle.
He is far from a perfect man…..
But he lives a spirit filled life of joy….
He has health issues due to his service…
But he has JESUS….
And though life is hard at times….
And never reaches a perfect place……
JESUS helps us endure….
JESUS keeps us going…..
JESUS helps us live daily with love, laughter and vision for the future.
And now JESUS uses my vet for HIS kingdom….
He teaches Sunday school….
He witnesses and helps others struggling with alcohol….
He goes and prays with those who need a touch from JESUS….
He has led several in the sinner’s prayer.
GOD doesn’t throw people away….
Because GOD never uses perfect people.
No matter what emotional trauma you have suffered….
No matter what addiction or stronghold in your life…..
No matter if divorce happens…..
No matter the mistakes you’ve made with life changing repercussions…..
It just doesn’t matter to JESUS
When you are HIS….
You are a new creation…..
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
GOD wants to use you…
And your brokenness….
This past summer I heard a quote at a Proverbs 31 Women’s event and it gave me such hope….
“The thing that we think disqualifies us for GOD’S use…is the very thing GOD wants to use.”
Won’t you surrender to JESUS today and you can be FORGIVEN too?
If you have never accepted JESUS as your savior….there is no better day than today to become a new creation! Please follow this link …..It’s so easy to come to JESUS!