Saturday, July 23, 2011


"Hey, where are you going Soldier?", the Sergeant asked.  Stopping in his tracks, the Private felt the warmth begin to well up inside.  Gosh, how he disliked those words.  It implied he had no direction in his life, as a matter of fact, it made him feel like a kid all over again.  Was he wandering into an area he shouldn't be?  No, it was some burly dude trying to prove a point.  The Sergeant was the one in control of the situation.

I don't have any facts to present, but I'm sure this type of an exchange happens far too often for most Soldiers.  However, if one is ever going to move up the promotional ladder, they'd better learn command and respect.  So, they answer back, the best way they know how.  "Going to the bathroom, sir",  the soldier states.  But underneath, one wonders.....

Four days ago, we welcomed back our oldest son from a year deployment to Afghanistan.  Thankfully, he is  safely back on U.S. soil.  At least I think he is, from what little we've seen of him.  He's been on the go day and night, night and day.  Anywhere other than home.  As a parent, you'd like to sit down and have some meaningful conversation of his past year's experiences.  But that happening appears to be one that will take place later rather than sooner.  And that's been frustrating.   Certainly we want him to re-connect with old friends and reintegrate into society, but it appears to us, his methods closer portray a man on the run.  Not necessarily from any one person,  but the authority thing.  We haven't put any boundaries on his return...afterall, he's almost 21 years of age.  But trying to find some reason for his actions led me to think of this.  Is he trying to avoid the question, where you going? or maybe what are you doing?   I wonder.  I know I would.  Strangely, we haven't asked either of those questions.

I think maybe it might help to pose some statements and then some questions.  I know I'd like to see the picture a little more clearer, how about you?  One mother told me yesterday she feels safer with her soldier in Afghanistan than she does with him back in the States.  That caught me off guard, yet when I thought about it further, it definitely made some sense.  She further related that when her son was at work overseas, she knew what he had going on.  At home, there were far too many other things taking place, namely girls and partying.  Another parent suggested in the little time they'd seen their soldier home, he appeared in a word they could only describe as....scattered.  It was their desire to have their son come back inside himself and get grounded again.   And then yet another family wore the facial expressions of disappointment as they talked about their soldier.  Had there been a real intimate reconnection yet between them?  It appears not.

So are parents and spouses expecting too much too soon?  Maybe......Is the battle line already being drawn that seperates, "you don't know what I went through and what I saw" to someone that wants to be there if only as a "pair of ears".

I'd like to offer some thoughts that are going through my mind today.  It might hit home with you.  It might at least cause you to stop and think, regardless if you are a parent or a soldier.  For my wife and I, this past year has been the most difficult year of our lives.  Hands down, the toughest.  While our son was performing missions on an average of nearly one per day, we were struggling to maintain our faith, our hope and somehow provide a "stiff" upper lip.  We were to be cheerleaders when it was the furthest thing from our conscience, yet somehow we had to go there.  Our role was to provide a "mind's eye to home" for our son.  I think we did that the best way we knew how.  Did we shoot a gun or encounter an IED?  Were we ever ambushed?  Did we encounter an enemy far too hard to trust?  I think you know the answer to those questions.  No, no and no.  However, most family members faced a different type of battle.  Maybe it was financial.  Or the children couldn't cope with a parent being gone and they became depressed, school grades suffered and behavioral issues cropped up.  Perhaps it was loneliness thinking no one could understand what they were going through.  Simply, it could have been lack of support.

Patience rewarded with a great, big hug

Whatever the case, both parties have endured a tremendous amount this past year.  It hasn't been all bad, though.  There has been some unique stories of hope and faith and PATIENCE.  And that's where I think we are right now.  We need to be in PATIENCE mode.  Both soldier and family member....steadfastly asking God to give each of us the right words for understanding.

If we follow God's lead regarding this time in our lives,  I don't think any of us will have to ask the question....the one our soldier doesn't want to hear and the one we don't want to ask....."Where are you going"?       

"My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.
Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body".-Proverbs 3:1-8



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