A Letter of Hope
The Story of a Heart Turned to Home
In 2002 I attended a homeschool conference and at the urging of a friend I signed up for all of the Doug Phillips sessions. I had never heard of Mr. Phillips or of Vision Forum so I had no idea what was in store for me. I can only say that the message he shared changed my life. I had never heard anyone speak with such clarity and passion about the family and the roles of men and women. In two days, I underwent a radical paradigm shift; I was convicted to evaluate myself, my life, and everything I thought to be true about womanhood. It seemed as if all of a sudden God was leading me down a path that I felt totally unprepared for (but strangely, part of me felt like my whole life had been leading up to this moment).
I was in the military, US Air Force (four years) and the Air Force Reserve (fourteen years), for a total of eighteen years. I had reached the rank of Master Sergeant with only two more years left to retirement. I have a three-year old daughter who was an unexpected surprise and gift from God. (I didn’t think I could have children.) When I had her I contemplated getting out of the service but was talked into staying by other members in my unit. For two and a half years I struggled with that choice. I hated leaving my daughter for my weekend drills and in my heart I knew that something was not right — a mother should be with her child. I also knew that if my husband, who is also in the military, Army National Guard, and I were both called up for active duty my daughter would be left behind without her parents. Even though it was a remote possibility, that scenario was unacceptable to me.
I was a Career Advisor. It was my job to advise service members on their career decisions; however this decision seemed too tough. I was so close to retiring with all the benefits and about to receive the title for which I had worked so long for: “retired military veteran”. How could I give it all up now? I found myself asking God what He thought. I prayed, I searched the Scriptures, I sought the advice of a few godly people, but answers seemed conflicting and slow to come. Then, as only God can do, it all became very clear: 1. I am my child’s mother, God entrusted her life to me. I am the one responsible for raising her, not someone else. 2. If I could not recommend a military career to another young mother, then why was I doing it myself? As Christians we must walk the talk, living our lives by our conviction. I felt I was living a lie.
We [women] hear a lot of deceitful messages from our society. The feminist movement has distorted the importance of our God designed roles and responsibilities. They have undermined our families and cheapened motherhood. The world screams a loud message, “you deserve more”. It becomes very difficult to reject the appeal of an exciting career, extra money, or titles of earthly importance. But God’s message is very different. His message is “your family deserves more”. Following God’s plan, no matter how perfect, isn’t always easy. It often goes against everything that everybody is telling you. It often requires sacrifices and selflessness. Sometimes it seems too costly or painful, and this was one of those times.
After eighteen years of service I requested a discharge and I walked away. Wow, what a painful decision that was to make. It was emotional. I had been a member of the military my entire adult life. Now it was coming to a premature end. I felt guilty for abandoning my fellow servicemen just as our nation was preparing for war. I also felt like I betrayed my commitment to defend our country. I even remember feeling scared because for the first time since leaving my father’s house I was completely dependent upon someone else for financial provision. Words cannot explain the deep sense of loss that overwhelmed me. My past life was riddled with bad choices and disappointments, but the military was always my one constant stabilizing factor. It was a great source of pride for me and it was a part of who I was. That was all gone now. I had sacrificed my dreams. For many, many months after I made the decision to leave, I felt grief and self-doubt. I was left wondering if I had made the right choice.
Then one day I was checking out Vision Forum Ministries website and ran across their “hot topics” on women in the military. Everything they said, every scripture they used, was exactly what God had revealed to me in my search for answers. It was as if they were writing my story. Even in my time of sorrow and confusion, Vision Forum ministered to me in a wonderful way. They kept me focused on God’s calling for women and gave me confidence that I had done the right thing.
Transitioning to a “civilian” was a humbling experience, and to be honest it still hurts from time to time, but I do not regret my choice. It was only the love for my daughter and with the strength of God that I could walk away. It seemed to be an act of obedience that I could not deny. Some people thought it was crazy, some thought it was courageous and others just didn’t understand it. All I know is that sometimes God asks us to do the illogical and unexpected and it is during those times that we must walk in faith.
The day I received my discharge certificate in the mail could have been very sad. But in God’s perfect timing, on that day I also received a letter from a very dear aunt, with words of encouragement for choosing my family over the military. Isn’t God great!
The lessons I have learned are priceless and too numerous to mention. First and foremost, I have learned that God requires our total surrender. But by trusting and obeying I have been blessed with new eyes — “twas blind but now I see”. I can clearly see the truth of what it means to be a godly woman. And what a beautiful gift that has been. I have many bad habits from years of a rebellious spirit and I’m very rough around the edges, so this refining process will be a long journey. Most days it feels like I never will be the woman I hope to be, but at least now I have a vision for who I want to be “when I grow up” in Christ. I pray that I can pass that gift along to my little girl and she too will stand in awe of the marvelous plan that God has for a woman’s life.
“Lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” God has solidified that truth in my heart, in my life and for our family.
Married to a man of valor (Deut 3:18-19),
P.S. I am grateful for the guidance and resources that I have found through Vision Forum Ministries. The impact that they have had on our family is immeasurable. I praise God and thank Doug Phillips for speaking the truth about godly womanhood.