Friday, December 14, 2012

Choosing Esther

It was after ten years of marriage that RLB decided to enlist in the military. I remember vividly the day he said, "Honey, the Army has missed their recruiting goals, I'm going to join." He didn't ask my permission, nor did we spend hours/days/weeks contemplating the decision. We were in the recruiting office the next day. This man was serious. Surely they could use his brain if not his brawn. He told me he never wanted to regret not serving when his country needed men.

He set off for basic training and I committed to doing whatever it took to support my Soldier. I wrote to him every day, printed his favorite columns to send to him (my first introduction to Vox Day, among others), and sent one typed chapter of Bruce Wilkinson's encouraging book, The Dream Giver, each day for him. Each Sunday I waited by the phone for that ten minute phone call to come in. Outside of letters, this was my only contact with a husband who I had previously not been separated from longer than four days.

There was a glitch when he arrived at his basic training Post. His 34-year-old eyes were showing what could be interpreted as early signs of glaucoma and holes in the lattice of one eye. Here was his way out if he'd had changed his mind. He could say, "I tried and they didn't want me." He didn't. He patiently endured forty days of "holding" while we fought for him to be able to stay in. There was a Sergeant helping him on his end while I read thousands of pages of Army regulations, had a local Ophthalmologist review his records who then wrote a letter of recommendation for him, and even requested a Congressional Inquiry. We finally found one regulation that would prove the handling of his situation was against regulation, that and having received warning that a Congressional was coming in was enough to prompt the powers that be to authorize a second opinion from a different Ophthalmologist. This doctor discovered a tear in RLB's retina that required immediate surgery. The surgery fixed the initial problem and RLB was medically cleared to go down range.

Three years later, after the grueling, twelve week Officer Candidate School that made Basic Training seem like Boy Scout camp, RLB was commissioned. As tradition dictated, there would be a ball celebrating the achievement of this class of Lieutenants. Protocol was very important for both the Officers their wives, if they were married, to master. In addition to being a celebration, this was a class to learn that protocol.

I purchased the dress, a dress three sizes smaller than what I would have worn twelve weeks earlier. While RLB was in training, I was working my butt off, literally. I took representing our marriage seriously. I had my hair professionally styled, had professionally manicured nails, and all the other various beauty treatments that we women do to represent.

This was all for the man I loved. The man I chose to marry. The man I voluntarily vowed to stay with for the rest of my life.

I hear you, "Where are you going with this SD?"

The Biblical account of Queen Esther, of course.

You can judge military tradition all you want. The fact remains, it exists, and not having come from a Military family, it was exciting to me. Queen Vashti came from royalty. She knew damn well what the traditions were and what insubordination led to. She knew the consequences of her disobedience. Though it's not clear what happened to her after her pitiful decision to embrace one of the earliest records of feminist rebellion after Eve, we can conclude there was nothing more important about her to discuss. She's never mentioned again. I think of her the way I think of Officer's wives who refuse to do their part in their husband's mission. We question the men charged with leading other men who can not lead their own homes. They and their wives look pitiful.

How thankful we are for Queen Esther, the beautiful women taken as what would be considered today a sex slave, for her obedience and submission. For a year she went through beauty treatments for a man she did not love, a man she did not choose, a man she did not voluntarily vow to be with for life. In fourteen days we will celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, thanks to Esther.

Consider and choose who you would like to emulate. Not choosing is the wrong choice when it matters most. Will you emulate a woman banished from her community, never to be heard from again, remembered only in comparison to a greater woman? Or Queen Esther? A selfless woman who so loved her people she obeyed the King. His heart was opened and softened to pleasing her, and the people she loved were spared.

I have never met a woman named Vashti. But I know several Esther's. My Grandmother's name was, fittingly, Esther. She endured a professed agnostic husband while she read her Bible and worshiped her Lord and Savior. She never spoke disrespectfully about my Grandfather to me. I never knew the hardship she had married to him. She let me love him without the weight of knowing his temper or cantankerous ways. I didn't see my Grandparents often so when I was able to spend time with them, both Grandma and Grandpa spoiled me with fun times, adventures, great food, and a lot of love. I was concerned when my Grandfather was living his last days about whether he had accepted Jesus as his Savior. At his funeral I spoke with the pastor about my concerns. He assured me a niece who lived in the area had visited Grandpa several times and spoke to him about Jesus and salvation. Perhaps it was that he was won over without words by reflecting on his Esther's behavior (1 Peter 3:1). I have faith and I wait for Heaven to know.

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