By Ava Jacobs:
I was eight and a half months pregnant with our second son, living in a new city, with none of my extended family and oh how exhausted I felt. My husband came to me and said he had a new opportunity. We were six months into a civilian job at home, where I packed his lunch every day, he came home for dinner every night, and we had weekends as a family, but something was missing! I will never forget the call that summer night, a friend, who Mike had been through more with, both home and abroad, than I could imagine. Their relationship and brotherhood is an incredible gift for they understand each other and heaven knows live to give each other a hard time. Not to mention his wife is my best friend. He called and told Mike he had an opportunity for him, an opportunity to take the fight to our newest enemy. The rest is history.
ISIS was on a rampage and it was rapidly spreading across multiple countries. How could I ever come to terms with sending my husband there? I asked him, after he told me the new opportunity, “You know I will support you no matter what, but do we have to do this?” His response afterwards was an exact testament to who he is, “No, I want this to be OUR decision though.” We prayed a lot for three full days, we talked, we text, we felt a huge weight on our shoulders and then we came across what is now our favorite verse, for the mass amounts of change that we have endured in five years compels us to lean, and lean hard, into our faith:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
This verse has guided us through a plethora of decisions in the last couple of years. We feel the path God chose for us is not meant to be straight or mundane. We decided to say yes, Mike would jump through the hoops of getting his credentials and clearances back in order and if all of the details aligned then it would be God’s will for us. If all of this did not happen, it was his will for us to stay put. Needless to say, it all worked out, we moved again in mid-October for the third time in less than a year. This was the second round in one year of living in our dearest friends’ basement packing five kids, two moms, and two husbands in a house! There is something to be said for God’s love and these friends have been nothing but an extension of that for us.
During this time, the videos with cages, orange jumpsuits, and machetes covered the news. Beheadings, something that reminds me of a history book, became a commonly used word by present day journalists and so did ransom, mass migrations, forced marriages, air strikes and pillaging. The Paris attacks happened and it all seemed to be spinning out of control once again in the Middle East. The concept terrified me, that my husband would be fighting this pure evil on earth. Something about it felt very different than Afghanistan where he served throughout our first three years of marriage. During those years, numerous assaults occurred and people were killed by roadside bombs, but the country was further along in the implementation of democratic stability and I trusted it more for my husband knew it like the back of his hand by the time he reached the end of his nearly decade long service there. This new threat, did not seem so tame. It seemed terrifying, brutal, and without any sense of fading in the near future.
With all of this to say, deployments are not easy, they are messy. They elicit fear of my ability to be a single parent again, fear of being able to let my husband back into our world when he arrives home again, fear for the separation anxiety it elicits in our oldest son, fear for our relationship and our communication, and fear that he may never come back. Yet, this calling my husband has, is a HUGE one and one that I believe many could not do. Often times people view contractors as chasing wars, but in reality I find my husband brings God and light everywhere he goes for God is always with him. He brings hope, friendship, democracy, and a better way of life by helping the people repressed by radicals, extremists and dictators. Many may say this is an idealistic or a naïve view of war, but I find it is what this world is boiled down to. We all know sin, but I much prefer to live in the light of God, glorifying him through my thoughts and actions. The war against ISIS may be about power or oil or money here on earth, but my husband, and so many others servings this country, bring light where there has only been darkness for it is Gods will. I praise God for using them to make the world of those repressed and chained by evil a bit less filled with despair.
“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” -Matthew 4:16
Ava Jacobs is an OpsLens Contributor and the spouse of a U.S. Air Force Veteran and former CIA counterterrorism official.