We've all received emails containing touching, inspiring stories about members of the military. Some are true, some have basis in fact but feature lots of enhancements, and others are, well, just plain bogus.
Here is a sweet story, a true story, that a young Christian woman told of her encounter with a young soldier on a flight to Dallas. The woman's name is Adriane Dorr, and she is the managing editor of a national magazine published by my church synod. Here is her story, entitled, "They're Here for Us":
A young man with a short haircut and two arms full of tattoos sat next to me on the flight from St. Louis to Dallas. He didn’t say anything . . . just put his head back and fell asleep. I was caught up in my own reading until the flight attendant came on, announcing our impending arrival in Dallas. Before the second syllable left her mouth, my seat mate jumped out of his seat, fully awake, and threw his hands out, the bag of airline peanuts in his hand flying across me. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Habit,” and then closed his eyes again.
I figured out why on the next leg of the trip: Dallas to San Antonio. His name was Jason. He’s been deployed to Kyrgyzstan, and he’s redeploying in two months to Afghanistan.
He grew more open then, telling me about his past deployment, his parents back home in Rochester, Minn., and the MBA he was working on thanks to the GI Bill.
“Does redeploying scare you?” I asked him. “You seem so chill.”
“It’s my job,” he said. “I don’t get to freak out. At least, not outwardly. Not now.”
It seemed like a natural segue.
“So, what’s your opinion of chaplains?” I finally asked. “Do you talk to them about what you’re going through?”
I stayed quiet.
“The great thing is,” he said matter-of-factly, “is that they’re here for us. They're not here for the military. It shows.”
We talked for the remainder of the flight and walked to the baggage claim together. He retrieved his camo luggage and shook my hand. “Just know we pray for you,” I told him as we walked toward the USO. “That’s what the Church does; she prays.”
On the back of his right arm, I spotted another tattoo: a sword with a Bible passage wound around it.
“Hey!” I piped up, pointing as his tattoo. "Why Isaiah 41:10?”
I follow Adriane's blog, as she is a gifted writer who captures well the small but important things in our lives. Here is a link to her story, if you wish to read it at her blog.