83: The Song and the Dance

83: The Song and the Dance

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

The Song and the Dance

Music is what feelings sound like.

~Author Unknown

When our son deployed to Afghanistan, God gave me a song. At the time, it was a popular song, played often on the radio, but I purchased my favorite version of it on CD. Listening to the song was one way of releasing all the pent-up emotions of fear, anxiety, and longing. A soldier in the U.S. Army, Phil had been through Basic and AIT here in the States, but once he was deployed halfway around the world in the midst of a war-torn country it was hard to bear.

On my normal route to work, I had what became a daily ritual. After some minutes of whispered prayer, I would pop in the CD and sing along until my tears overpowered the lyrics. Then I would sob quietly and pray until the song was over. Before reaching work I would pull myself together.

When I slipped into the office, the first thing I did was check my e-mail to see if I had one from our soldier. Two or three times a week, there would be a short note; those hastily written e-mails were the greatest treasure imaginable. Often I would print the contents and carry them to the staff prayer meetings. Most of the people I worked with had known our son since he was a baby, and they joined with me as we offered up fervent prayers for his safety. Over and over, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, we prayed. Our voices raised together in prayer were sweet times. I needed the comfort because deep in my heart, I knew he was in a real life-and-death struggle.

Then, one day while still overseas in the war zone, Phil had a dream. I firmly believe it was our prayers that caused this to happen. To this day, he does not know whether he was actually asleep or awake—only that the dream was more real than his physical location. Nevertheless, when it was over, he knew two things with certainty. He knew that he would not die in Afghanistan, but would return to the States alive and well. And he also knew that when he returned he would marry the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. When he woke up, he wrote everything he could remember about the dream and sent it to me via e-mail.

Since Phil believed the Lord gave him the dream, he embraced every part of it. An astonishing faith carried him through every possible fear. Armed with heavenly protection, he volunteered for highly dangerous missions, then would write home about them — at least the ones that weren’t classified. I would e-mail back and remind him that he was the one who had the dream, not me, so would he please be a little more careful? I had never seen a physical manifestation of the peace that passes all understanding, but when he received some R&R time and came home for two weeks, it was evident on his face. No one could pretend to be at peace like that; it’s not humanly possible. He simply had no fear at all concerning battle missions.

Eventually the deployment ended, and he came home for good, safe and sound notwithstanding some bouts with PTSD. That was the stuff of nightmares. He experienced acute anxiety around crowds—even people he had known and loved all his life — and a distinct disassociation from our present-day culture. His dad and I continued to pray. It wasn’t over yet.

Meanwhile, his father and I moved to a different city. After several months of miserably existing on his own, Phil visited and decided to move to our new location. Still figuring out what he wanted to do, he hired on with a company in the oil field industry, but his main focus proved to be the church we attended. He began to attend regularly, got involved and made good friends, then started back to college with a fresh vision. And, yes, he finally met that beautiful woman from his dream.

They dated while he finished his degree, then married. At their wedding, when it was our turn to dance, he and I gingerly stepped out onto the floor. Since neither of us cared much for wedding dances, we hesitantly shuffled around the dance floor. Suddenly I was mesmerized by the music playing. When I asked him what the song was, he responded, “Mom, I have no idea. Jasmine chose all the music.”

By that time, though, I knew.

It was the same song the Lord gave me all those mornings I drove to work, crying my eyes out, pleading with God for our son’s safety and wellbeing. It was the song not one person in the world knew about but my heavenly Father and me. Same one, same version, now playing in honor of the mother-son dance at my son’s wedding. Only this time, he was not a million miles away in a war zone, but safe and marvelously happy in his role as groom.

Admittedly, my eyes watered and the room blurred, but only for a moment. I was just too happy to stay choked up this time around. As the song played, I snuggled into his strong arms one more time as we laughed, dancing our way into his bright future. He got the girl—I got the song and the dance.

It was more than enough.

~Mary Pat Johns

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