In 1997 I married an army man. Not just any army man, either, but a Spec Ops Airborne Ranger — one that I almost lost three times in the first year of our marriage.
When I first met my husband, I didn’t really consider what being in an infantry unit of the army meant, I just thought he was so cool (and mighty good looking in his BDU’s!).
After the first two weeks of our marriage, however, I learned in a very real way what being married to a combat man meant. I also learned how the covenants we make can protect good men when it is not their time to go.
Bryan and I were married on a Monday in November, and on that Friday Bryan was deployed for an “extended unspecified deployment.” Back in the days before cell phones, Bryan carried around a pager. I could always tell when the pager would go off because the blood would rush from his face and he would look at me as though trying to memorize my face. He’d kiss me goodbye and then… he would leave. There was always a packed bag in our trunk and in our closet that came with the knowledge that I was not allowed to know where he went or even when he would be coming back. Those days were hard days.
On a Sunday two weeks after we had gotten married in the Salt Lake City Temple, I got a call around 2:00 in the morning from my husband’s commanding officer.
“Mrs. Beverley,” he said, “your husband has been hit by a grenade. I will call you when I get to the hospital and I know more about what condition he is in.” Then the crazy, insensitive man hung up!
I remember falling to the floor and shaking uncontrollably. I was convinced that he was in pieces somewhere and whatever was left of my husband, if anything, was never going to be the same. I remember numbly calling my sister, whose husband was also a Ranger, and asked her to come sit with me while I waited. For what seemed like an eternity, my sister and I sat next to the phone while I cried uncontrollably, waiting for the dreaded phone call.
When it finally came, I was told that I could come pick up my husband and that he was going to live. The drive to the hospital to see what shape my husband was in was one of the longest of my life, but when we arrived at the hospital, his fellow soldiers met me with an amazing story that they couldn’t explain. I, of course, knew what had happened: his priesthood and the sacred covenants he had made in the temple saved his life.
My husband and his four-man team were clearing a bunker system at night when the accident happened. My husband was the team leader so he stood in the number one spot in the line of men. The number two guy was responsible for throwing the grenade. In most cases the soldier would pop the pin, cook the grenade (hold it for a few seconds before throwing it in order for the explosion to hit the intended target and detonate without giving any warning), and then throw it. This time, however, the soldier thankfully did not “cook” the grenade, but when he threw it, he aimed too high, causing the grenade to hit a beam just inside the room they were clearing — and it then bounced back out towards the soldiers. My husband says he remembers hearing the ping of the grenade off the beam and then glancing down with his surefire gun light and saw the grenade at his feet. He had just enough time to turn, grab his men and push them back before the grenade detonated and blew them all off their feet down the long corridor and into a cement wall.
Bryan then said he heard an intense ringing in his ears and moaning from his men. His body was covered in blood and it took a minute before he realized that most of the blood wasn’t his. His men were, in most cases, more hurt than he was even though he took on most of the blast from the grenade. They were all in bad shape, some barely missing death as the shrapnel that blasted through their bodies barely missed vital organs. The miracle for Bryan was that he had shrapnel only in his legs and only below his knees.
When my sister and I got to the hospital, Bryan’s commanding officer couldn’t believe that he was going home with only shrapnel in his legs. He held up Bryan’s uniform that had been cut off of him. It was completely riddled with holes from top to bottom. Not one of them could explain why none of the pieces of shrapnel pierced through his garments and into his body. We of course knew his life was saved because of the promises Bryan had made in the temple and the covenants to serve the Lord no matter what circumstance he may be in. Covenants have power.
In the days and weeks of recovery that followed rehabilitating Bryan’s legs, the beautiful gift the Lord’s protection had provided us was breathtaking. We thanked God on a daily basis that he saw fit to bless us with His protection. I am aware that not all stories like this one have a happy ending — that not every soldier lives and not every prayer is answered — but I do believe that the Lord in all of His endless mercy knows the beginning from the end and is aware of our needs at all times. I also believe that covenants cause protection.
A covenant is described this way in Come, Follow Me manual for young women: “A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and His children. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey these conditions. Making and keeping covenants qualifies us to receive the blessings God has promised.
In a beautiful talk by Sister Carole Stephens at a BYU women’s conference session, we learn more about covenants and the protection they offer us during times of danger and uncertainty. She said, “Our pathway back to our heavenly home is . . . well marked by covenants. These covenants and ordinances will provide safety, direction, and protection on the path home and prepare us to enter into God’s presence when we reach the end of our journey.”
In one of our Come, Follow Me discussions earlier this year, we talked about the signs of the Savior’s birth and ultimately His death. In our family we talked about the importance of being prepared for the Second Coming of the Savior and of the remarkable events that are occurring and will occur before He comes again. Some of our children showed excitement and anticipation while others voiced concerns and fears. We reminded them that the scriptures tell us that “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).
Being prepared in the last days includes making and keeping sacred covenants. There is protection and power in the making and keeping of those covenants. It is in the keeping that we prove our worth to our Father in Heaven and our trust in His plan for our ultimate happiness. When we trust Him our capacity to do becomes greater. We don’t have to fear the future, but instead we can act in faith and hope, knowing that His protection, be it physical or spiritual, will always occur because we chose to obey and we chose to follow His Son.
I am truly thankful for the gift of covenants. These two-way promises are eternal in nature and beautiful in reality. The reality is if we make and keep sacred covenants, the Lord is bound to bless and sanctify us. He promises to never leave us unaided or alone, to lift us up when we fall, and to protect us when we stand in need. God’s gifts are endless and eternal. When we do our part and do our best, He will fill in the holes the we miss, mend the cracks that we create, and help us complete our masterpiece with faith and not fear — one beautiful day at a time.
Janette Beverley is a lover of life, family, music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, and has five amazing children and one equally amazing husband. Janette is excited to be writing for LDS Blogs and sharing her love and passion for finding the miraculous among the mundane, the awe-inspiring among the obvious, and the uplifting among the underestimated. To read more of her work, you can visit Janette's personal blog here.