An Operation Heal Our Patriots participant shares what God has taught her about life and marriage in the 18 months following her husband’s injury.
Anna Morgan and her husband, Jed, live in California and participated in a marriage enrichment retreat in Alaska last summer through Operation Heal Our Patriots.
“If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11b-12a, ESV).
On June 20, 2012, Marine Corporal Jed Morgan, my husband of just six months at the time, tripped an explosive device in Afghanistan that tore off his left leg and implanted shards of shrapnel into his body. It tore away skin, flesh, and bone on his right arm and lower body. He eventually lost his lower right leg and the use of his right hand.
When I first heard the news that my husband had been severely injured, I was horrified. The way the dispatcher relayed the news made it sound as though Jed had died. Then he started to explain Jed’s injuries, and I felt a wave of relief wash over me.
Today, I thank God that He facilitated Jed’s physical and emotional recovery and rehabilitation. Even though dealing with Jed’s injuries has been difficult, to say the least, God has given me a new perspective and deeper love for Jed than I could have ever had on my own.
I would say the most difficult adjustment I have had to make has been to die to myself. I became a full-time caregiver and quit everything to nurse Jed back to health. If it weren’t for loving family members, I would have been working day and night to assist my husband.
At first it seemed our circumstances changed me for the worse. I was much more irritable and frustrated. It was extremely taxing both mentally and physically not knowing if Jed would survive the next surgery, if I had made the right decision as his medical power of attorney, or if he would pull through each horrible onslaught of infections that his body continued to fight. We were grieving the deaths of an old way of life and many broken dreams.
One day, during Jed’s three-month stay at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, I sat outside the hospital to take a short break while my in-laws took care of Jed. Suddenly, I began screaming out loud to God, writing down each question I so desperately wanted Him to answer.
While I was writing my questions and yelling demands, God spoke to me through my friend, Kari, who had been praying for us. Kari began to text me replies to each question. Finally I asked why God had allowed Jed’s injuries. The reply was painful, like a punishment, but good and loving, like a father correcting his child.
God impressed upon Kari to tell me not to test or blaspheme Him. The Lord said I needed to trust His will. He told me I was full of pride and bitterness with a heart hardened towards Him. I broke down sobbing and Kari told me that she was crying, too. I felt love in and all around me; it felt as though the lack of forgiveness and hatred flowed right out of my body. After my encounter with the Creator of the Universe, I saw our situation from a completely new perspective.
Learning to Rely on God
Now, I am better able to understand why God allows suffering and to relate to those with physical disabilities. I continue learning to trust in God even when I don’t understand everything. I have learned to be patient in trials and to know that God truly understands because He endured more suffering and pain that we could ever imagine. I also keep learning to be others-focused, putting their needs above my own, especially in regard to my husband.
Jed’s injuries have definitely changed some of the dynamics of our marriage relationship. Becoming a caretaker feels more like being a parent at times. As Jed’s recovery has progressed, our relationship has gone back to that of a typical marriage. There have been times in the past when the wounds have caused us to be easily frustrated and to react unkindly towards each other. I have been attending counseling recently, and God is working through it to teach me how to approach our situation more appropriately.
He has also used different organizations to encourage and support us, such as Operation Heal Our Patriots. We spent a week in Alaska last August with the staff and volunteers there and felt more encouraged, accepted, and loved than Jed and I have felt in a very long time.
Operation Heal Our Patriots taught us biblical ways to resolve conflict, gave us uninterrupted quality time with our spouse, and reminded us of Christ’s deep love for us in our healing process. I find my strength and hope in my relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our families and our friends, too, have been a tremendous support and help throughout this process. They have taken care of my husband alongside me, given Jed and I everything we could possibly need, and, most importantly, sought after God for Jed’s healing and recuperation. I am so thankful for my close friendship with my mother.
I would like to tell everyone reading this that it’s vital to completely trust and be obedient to God, even when you feel He is afflicting you like Job. Although we have a more difficult marriage than most, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, for nothing is impossible with Him. I want you to know that my husband Jedidiah Morgan is not a man to be pitied but a man to admire. He exudes perseverance and determination and will not settle for anything less than his best. To meet him and know him is a great honor and privilege.
Finally, I want to encourage other spouses and caregivers that God knows and truly understands the struggles we endure. He understands the difficulties, the joys, and the grief. Remember to lean on Him when you are completely drained and feel as though you’re unable to continue on.
I am thankful for the way the Lord has opened my eyes during my husband’s recovery. It has been a painful struggle, but I am thankful for each trial, as God has used them to strengthen and mature me.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5, ESV).
UPDATE: God is now blessing our family with a child, and we are overjoyed to welcome our baby into the world this summer. My husband is always walking on his prosthetics and keeping busy with his job in the Marines or making plans for our future after he receives medical retirement. Since Jed requires less and less caretaking, I work as a stay-at-home wife and freelance makeup artist. We are excited about our future and grateful for all that God has done in our lives.
If you or your spouse has been injured while serving in the military and you are interested in attending Operation Heal Our Patriots, you can apply now.