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What Lies Beneath

Hubby and I spent our time over the weekend with my brother-in-law (we shall call him BIL for short and he is hubby’s brother)  and his family out in Colorado Springs. 

BIL is a twenty one year veteran of the US Air Force. Soon after hubby and I had just begun dating in college, BIL was heading off to his first Air Force assignment out in California. In fact, my first visit to hubby’s house in college involved meeting BIL and BIL’s friends (wherein they gave hubby a lot of ribbing over having a girlfriend) as they were getting together for some final celebrating before BIL moved away. In this way, BIL will always be tied up in my memories of those first few weeks with hubby and I look back on them, and him, fondly. Over the years BIL and his family have moved around the country as he progressed in rank and we’ve always enjoyed dropping in to see them wherever they were stationed.

Because I was there at the time of his send off into the military it seemed fitting that I should be there for his retirement from the service. And that is why we jumped at the chance to attend his formal retirement ceremony on Friday. With the cashing in of a vacation day at work, a plane ride, and with a lot of happiness in our hearts, hubby and I were off to Colorado Springs on Thursday evening.

The retirement ceremony was held at the US Air Force Academy Golf Club and the grounds are absolutely beautiful. The greens are actually *very* green and the mountains provide a lovely backdrop. Of course we were inside for the ceremony; the room that hosted the event was more than adequate.

The ceremony began and a lot of the usual sort of things that happen at these type of events transpired (invocation, national anthem, flag folding, etc.). As to be expected a gentleman or two got up to speak to and about BIL and his record of service. That’s about the time I was sitting down patiently waiting for the speaker to get into the meat of his rah rah rah “it’s been great working with you” speech. And that’s when I (and hubby and hubby’s parents and almost everyone else in the room) all discovered that there is so much more to BIL than what he appears to be.

The speaker chronicled BIL’s career in the Air Force and what was revealed as he described each assignment was that at every step of BIL’s tenure with the Air Force he has been a top performer, going well above and beyond his peers, his previous successes, and the high standards of the service. During the speech we learned just how many times (so many times!) the projects BIL touched turned to gold and the teams he led or participated in were ranked as elite performers - landing top honors (including X of the year awards) and accolades from across the country. We learned about the ways in which his work directly affected the security of our country and saved countless lives. It was moving and it was surprising. All these years, I just assumed BIL was a good person and an average military fellow. Because he doesn’t talk much about his work (for obvious reasons) I had no idea of what he really did until Friday and because he does what he does with his head down in service to God for the benefit of others instead of the benefit of his own ego, I had no idea how impressive and important he is. All these years of giving 100% and quietly accomplishing incredible feats and never letting on, even to his family, as the awards piled up and the recognition by and within the Air Force continued to grow. I’m just in awe. I mean when I get an award, there I am on Facebook 5 minutes later, excitedly sharing with my friends, “HEY FRIENDS, GUESS WHO JUST GOT AN AWARD? YEAH, ME, THAT’S RIGHT, I DID!” and soaking up the praise for the pleasure it brings, and yet BIL didn’t even tell his wife about all of his amazing deeds and associated recognition and awards. And it’s surely doesn’t count as bragging to tell your spouse your exciting news, right? I mean they’re like an extension of yourself. But no, he kept it to himself. Because he isn’t about praise, or recognition or social branding. He is about integrity and doing your best because it’s the right thing to do.

When we move in for a closer examination, we find out what lies beneath the surface of a friend or family member’s persona, what’s deep in their heart and what they value. What would people find if they could see into your heart? How nice it is to find out that someone is even more wonderful than you ever imagined. And what an inspiration my BIL is – he makes me want to work harder every day, do all sorts of amazing things for God, and keep it secret from all of you so that I know I’m doing my good deeds for the glory of God instead of the praise of man.

Matthew 6:1-4 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.


Anonymous said…
Jenni, this is beautiful! I'm sure that must have been an amazing moment for all of his family, esp. his wife, to sit and hear the incredible achievements even they never knew about.

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