Friday, November 7, 2014

On Raising a Man...and a Soldier.

When Trey was about six years old, I was given the book "Raising Up Boys" by James Dobson (it had been on my Christmas wish list). I read to a certain chapter where Dr Dobson detailed statistics and probabilities that seemed to fate my son to a life of crime, addiction, depression and suicide. Overwhelmed with despair, I crept into my sleeping son's room, knelt by his bed and prayed in desperation. And I heard God ask me if I trusted Him to see my son as more than a statistic. Of course I did. And I held on to that like a promise.
I have raised my son with a set of values, beliefs and principles. I raised him to believe in things, be willing to fight for those things, to hold on to his faith, to live life like an adventure. And now that he is 18, he is living out all of that...and, to be honest, I may have days where I wish I could take it back! Not all of it...just redefine "adventure" to something like "live really close to your Mom-always!" But it would appear it's too late. The course is set.

When Trey was four, he told me when he grew up he wanted to join the Marines and be a soldier. At some point, he'd stopped talking about it and I stopped thinking about it but a couple of years ago he told me that he planned to join as soon as he graduated high school. At my request, he agreed to wait until he was 19...he turns 19 this February.

By May...he'll be gone. He'll be in boot camp.
In the past few days, we've talked about it several times. I asked him if he'd finished registering for next semester and when he told me no, I started to chide him but he reminded me he's not going to school next semester...he'll be gone before the semester is over. Bree and I were discussing Thanksgiving when we realized that this is the last Thanksgiving for the next four years that we are guaranteed Trey will be home. And then I read that President Obama has approved the deployment of 1500 more troops to Iraq.

I have to tell you...I have had friends and family members serve in the military for as long as I can remember. I had friends in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and cousins fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've had friends who had family members-even their sons-serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines...and I have prayed for them, diligently. But I think I realized that I didn't pray for them nearly enough. I have been praying for my son as desperately as I did that night 12 years ago. And I realize that for the Mamas out there, I had no idea as I dutifully prayed for their child what they were going through. I still don't. Not yet. I just know the anticipation of it...and I am going to be bluntly honest and tell you that I don't fully trust the United States Government to make the best choices when it comes to my son. When I look at Korea and Vietnam and then I look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and ISIS I feel like we are making the same decisions and the same mistakes. I think we fail to fully understand the culture and the people and what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against when we make military decisions. As I am not a military strategist, general, soldier, etc I could be absolutely wrong...but that is the way it seems to me. And now, the decisions the military and Commander in Chief make affect me in a very personal way. And that is scary.
My son is-understandably so-one of hundreds of thousands to the US government and military. They don't know about his comedic timing, ability to take amazing pictures, love of Ultimate Frisbee and video games. They don't know that when he found out he was in the same college class as his Mom, he didn't run to his adviser and beg for rescue but actually enjoys it! They don't know that he is a favorite with all little kids and most dogs. That he hopes to make movies one day. That he is the best answer God could have ever given me in my prayer for a son.

And then God reminds me that He does...He knows all of those things.

I trust my son to know the desires of his heart and to go after them. Because of my raising, and sometimes in spite of it, because of the goodness of God, because of the love of so many friends around us my son has grown into a remarkable young man. He will make a fine soldier. And I will wave him off with pride when he leaves for boot camp and I won't cry until he's gone and each time he comes home and has to leave again I will do the same. Because that is the best thing I can give know he is loved, that I am proud of him, that I support him, and that I am praying...and that I trust him and God  that whatever they do is for the best. I'm holding on to that. Like a promise.

Mamas, I am praying so hard for your soldiers. For your hearts. For our leaders to make wise decisions. Because I understand more than ever how personal it is. Thank you for being brave, for being wise, for modeling how to do it right so that bumbling Mamas like me have a model.

Here's to hoping and praying for the day the sword is beaten into plowshares.

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