Peter stared at the ceiling and caught himself forming faces from the bizarre patterns in the textured surface. He shook his head and forced himself to look elsewhere, anywhere, as long as he did not close his eyes.
Flashes blinded Peter as he flew into the air, reeling out of control. He heard a thud as his body made impact with the ground. Men screamed…shots whizzed passed his head…
Peter’s body jumped involuntarily as he soaked his bed in a cold sweat. Shaken by the dream, he reached for his hand held mirror. As he examined his scarred face, he wondered if Michele would still love him. After all, he was only half a man now. His fingers left his face and found their way to the stub beneath the blanket where his left knee used to be.
“Tomorrow you fly back to the states,” the voice next to him broke into his thoughts. “Got a woman there?”
Annoyed, Peter looked away from his roommate. He thought about being reunited briefly with his wife in Washington D.C. where he will undergo extensive surgeries and physical therapy.
Exhausted from her flight, Michele stopped to compose herself outside Peter’s hospital room. She knew she loved him no matter what, but did he know that? Lord, help me be strong.
“Oh honey, I am so glad you’re okay.” Michele’s words tumbled out.
“Okay? You call this okay?” Peter pushed his wife of twelve years away and refused to even look at her, unable to remove himself from his personal grief to welcome her warm embrace.
Determined not to be offended or hurt, Michele switched gears. “I brought pictures from the kids to hang in your room.” Peter glanced her way as she fumbled in a large canvass bag. “Here are some of your favorite movies to watch, and Sarah made cookies for you.”
Michele continued to ignore Peter’s attempt to be detached while she updated him about life at home. She assured him that things would be ready for his return.
A year had passed since that horrible night in Iraq. Peter struggled with emotional flashbacks and depression. He longed to enjoy being reunited with his family, yet he felt inadequate to be the man of the house anymore.
Glued to his recliner, he stared blankly at the T.V. Life went on without him, and he willfully chose to let it.
“Honey,” Michele asked cautiously, “Will you go to church with us tomorrow?”
Peter had avoided church since he had been home. He knew his family loved him unconditionally, yet his church family…for some reason he didn’t want to be around them.
The look in Michele’s eyes abruptly melted a large chunk of Peter’s iced over heart. He simply nodded as he broke the eye contact and stared at the T.V. again.
The next day, it took great effort on Peter’s part to walk as straight and natural as possible. If anyone noticed his limp, they did not draw attention to it.
“Peter,” Pastor hugged him. “Welcome home, man.”
The genuine welcome he received from old friends eased his discomfort as he slid into the seat next to his wife. From the moment the service started, Peter could not take his eyes off his wife. He knew she had become excited about her walk with the Lord while he had been in Iraq. He had seen a genuine joy in her, a different love than before.
Worship seemed to come alive in Peter that morning. He had no memory of music affecting him this way before. Hands were raised all around him. He had never been one to lift his hands in worship. Gradually he lifted one hand…then the other. Slowly he relaxed and became lost in the expectant atmosphere.
A warm sensation spread over his cold heart as salty tears slid down his face. Anger, bitterness and self-pity began to drip away as joy, love, and forgiveness filled the gaps. A miracle had taken place right there in his seat as the Holy Spirit nudged him back to a right relationship with God.
Later that evening, Michele walked past Peter in his recliner. He reached out and took her hand. He had not instigated any form of contact in a long time. Gently, he pulled her into his lap.
“I’ve missed you, Peter.” Michele’s heart beat passionately as Peter freely gave her the love and affection she had longed to encounter…reunited at last.
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