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Restoring Family Through Fearless Trust

For Lucas, a husband and father of two, Christmas is more than a holiday — it’s a reminder of everything he loves and everything he almost lost.

“Our unit,” he said, “would find an IED like almost every single day. So every bump you're going on it's like, ‘Is that an IED? Is that IED?’ You don't know which person is going to throw a grenade at you. You don't know which vehicle's coming at you to blow you up. I’m like, ‘I don't want to die up here.’”

Long before he was a Marine, Lucas dreamed of serving in the military. “As a kid, I watched Rambo. I was like, ‘Aww, cool.’ He was tough and he could take care of himself. I pictured myself like that cause I had to figure out things on my own.”    

The youngest in a broken home, Lucas grew up a loner – always afraid that one day he’d become like his father. He shared, “We'd always heard stories that he had murdered people and that he was going to try to kill us. I'm like, ‘Seriously?! My own dad wants to kill me? That’s pretty messed up.’ And then the thoughts would get to me. He was an alcoholic, a drug addict, so I always thought in my head, ‘Oh, I'll have this addictive personality as well. Maybe I would turn out like him.’”

So he prayed every night, hoping he'd be saved. “I read the Bible every day. I knew it talked about sin a lot and that you can go to hell for sinning. So, I repent of my sins every single night. It just brought even more fear into the mix.”

At 18, he joined the Marine Infantry. As a patrol driver, he didn’t see much action, until one night when his squad was attacked. He recounted, “I just wake up to these tracers over my head and machine gun fire and just bullets flying everywhere. You don't know where it's coming from. It was like, ‘God please help me now.’ Then everything stops.”

“That was like really frightening for me,” he continued. “Shortly after that I noticed my memory was going. I started getting more fearful, angry and like the vigilance would go up and I’d be paranoid. My way of escaping was ‘Suck it up.’ That was like a motto, ‘Suck it up.’ You're tired, hungry, cold – don't show it. You know, it's weakness.”

And when he returned stateside, he began self-medicating. “Something was missing,” he described. “There was something off and so I drank to cope with that. I drank every single day.”

Just before his second tour, Lucas married Ashley. He hid his symptoms and drinking till shipping off to Fallujah, as team leader ready to train Iraqi soldiers.

“Two huge vehicle born IEDs blew up two police stations. Dead babies everywhere, dead kids, and just people blown up and constantly bringing ambulances to and from to grab all the people. Some of my friends had changed and they kept complaining of smelling burning babies. The past deployment, you know, they'd tell you to ‘suck it up’ and now I’m the guy. It's like, ‘No, suck it up.  You’re not smelling dead babies. You're just smelling the burn pit.’"

But upon returning home to Ashley, he could no longer bury his fears. Ashley remembered, “If there was like a cardboard box or debris on the road, he would swerve like a madman cause he thought that there was a bomb underneath it. If we go to a restaurant, he had to sit in a place where he could see the whole room in case someone was going to attack us.”

“I started having nightmares and I was sweating,” Lucas said. “I always had my hand on my knife, like ready to stab someone even in church. Like I’m playing out in my head how I’m going to get to this guy and stab him, like in church!?”

Ashley shared, “I knew immediately that he had PTSD but he didn't believe me.”

He admitted, “Back to that whole Rambo thing, ‘He could take care of himself, I can take care of myself. I’ve got this. I don’t need anybody helping me – I got it.’”

“The only thing I could do was pray,” she sighed. “I was like, ‘God, please just have him be aware of it, please.’  

Eventually, Lucas agreed to counseling, where he was diagnosed with PTSD and medicated. Four years later, he was working as an insurance manager, raising twins, and still battling PTSD. To cope, he began drinking more, but his symptoms only intensified.

“Too proud to ask for help and ashamed,” he confessed. “The person that I didn't want to become was kind of who I was becoming.”  
Then, one night, Lucas got drunk at a Christmas party. When Ashley refused to let him drive, he lost it. She described, “He's like, ‘You F'ing B! You F'ing B!’ He grabbed my hair, and he smashed my face in the middle console. I just was screaming. I just wanted him out. It was over.”

Lucas took off and Ashley drove home. The next day, he had no memory of what had happened. Then, Ashley confronted him and left with the kids. “I basically just turned into my dad,” he said. “I was heartbroken that I did that and that I screwed up the family. On the Christmas tree, there was a picture of my kids and I looked at them and it just like melted my heart. I said to God, I said, ‘I screwed this up, but if you can fix it, it'll give it to you.’”

Lucas quit drinking and sought counseling. And for the first time in his life, he felt no fear. “I felt like a peace. I was kind of infatuated with this peace like, ‘This is pretty nice.’ Just gradually I could tell that things were changing.”

And when Ashley spoke with Lucas on the phone, she noticed something was different. “He dramatically changed,” she said, “and he had like this confidence that everything was going to be okay and God was going to take care of it, and it made me angry. Because I’m like, you know, ‘I'm divorcing you. Like you've ruined our whole family. Like this is not okay.’ And one day, finally, I got on my knees and I cried out to God. ‘God, you just have to do something.’ It’s like I felt a break. And I just knew that God had fixed it. I could love him again.”

Together, Lucas and Ashley learned to trust God and each other. And through that trust, Lucas has found freedom from fear. “God healed me,” he asserted. “He needed me to let go of myself and just to fully trust in Him. God was the only way.” Ashley shared, “If you really do surrender yourself and yield to God, he will restore things and make them better than they've ever been.” 

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