This book is not a comfortable read. It is not a glorification of military duty, nor is it a glossed-over view of godly marriage. It is not even evangelistic. But much of the book had me in tears, gripped by the same fears and relief and anguish that Brenda Hale, former Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, expresses in her own words — as told by experienced writer Rachel Farmer.
It tells the story of a young teenager of no particular belief falling in love with an English soldier stationed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It charts the course they took, through courtship, marriage, barrack life stationed abroad and at home, and then to their conversion through a friend.
It’s at times an intensely personal book, holding little back from the reader. At some points I felt as if I were intruding on someone else’s domestic bliss.
At one point, she speaks of burning ‘explicit’ letters sent between her and her husband, with whom she is passionately in love. I had to stop for a second at this point; was this something that should have been written in a Christian book? Would I feel so voyeuristic if this were a secular volume?
Yet Brenda’s raw emotion is at once true and refreshing in its honesty. She is ‘every Christian woman who has lost their husband’. She is ‘every Christian woman who has gone through trials in marriage’. She is ‘every Christian woman who has waited long for children’. She is’ every teenager who has met a boy and fallen head-over-heels’.
For this reason, the sensation of utter loss Brenda experiences when those military personnel arrive on her doorstep one fateful morning is one the reader shares. You cannot read this and not be deeply moved.
If this were just a tear-jerker, I’d advise against reading it. But I urge you to read this volume, to see how God led Brenda from the anguish of loss to a greater purpose, to a life of service to others and into politics.
We are not on earth just to fall in love or to live in loss; we are here to serve God, called to a glorious purpose. I married a soldier is Brenda’s tale, but it is not the end of her story. It is a compelling read and a challenge for both sexes, to see God’s leading in every situation.