Today I have a dear friend that God so graciously placed in my life who is embarking on the same journey we started not long ago….only hers is so much more than mine. I sent one son to serve but had 3 beautiful kids still at home. She is sending her two sons, her only children to boot camp at this very moment. She will walk back into her home to be greeted by silence. There will be no more crazy game nights playing chicken foot…no more arguments about silly sibling things…no more birthday cakes…no more family drives to Texas…no more lots of things like Easter, Mother’s Day, Birthdays…but there are new things that will bring joy too…
There will be pride in what her sons have chosen to do…there is the absolute unadulterated joy at that first letter in the mail and every one after that….there is the feeling she will get when she knows her boys have passed one stage, and then the next and then the last and hardest; the Crucible….there is the moment she will hear their voices for the first time since they left home…there is the sight of their new, manly faces after 13 weeks of the hardest recruit training in the military…there is the first hug that feels like home….there is the hours spent on family day just staring at their beautiful faces…there is the new way that they walk through the world…the way they stand at ease no matter where they are…there is walking through the mall and having a stranger thank them for their service…there is their presence in her home for a few precious days when it is all over. It is like nothing else and there will never be anything else like it.
So as her boys swear in and say goodbye, I thank her. I thank her for her sacrifice, for her way of being graceful in the choice her children have made. I thank her for allowing herself to be drafted when they made that choice. I thank her for the children she and her husband raised…the way they are strong and willing to do what others cannot do. I thank her for giving her boys to our country, because that is what she has done. They will always be her sons, but she has given them to us so that we may remain free. I thank her when thanks is not enough. I pray for their well being…that they remain healthy and strong…that they hear the voice of their Father in Heaven when they are struggling…that they lean into Him when all else fails. I pray that they have the strength to put one foot in front of the other when there is nothing left inside to continue on. But most of all, I pray that they feel the love of those who are far away but stand behind them in everything they are endeavoring to do….that they would know without a shadow of a doubt that they are not forgotten and that they are loved!
I am in a season of strangeness…somewhere in between where I am not quite sure what is going on or how I feel, but I know that God is working and the moment He chooses to reveal the mystery I will be here, waiting.
There have been some unexpected things that I didn’t see coming…hurtful words, omissions that I have had to fight tooth and nail to fend off the offense that wells up in my heart. I want so much to entertain the hurt, to cozy up to it, to hang out with it and make it my best friend, to wallow in it…but that is not who God has grown me up to be. If I want to go forward and deeper with Him, I cannot walk backwards.
I am also living in the land of the unknown….and the scope of that keeps growing. Pretty much all of you know that my son Tyler is now in the Marine Corps and he is about to start the school portion of his training. For over a year we thought that he would be in Pensacola for that, but literally at the last moment, he was assigned to a school that is located in North Carolina….AND the school that we thought was going to be a year is now only 12 weeks. He was able to bypass all the preliminary portions of school that we all expected in Pensacola that would determine what aircraft he would be assigned to. He has been assigned to an aircraft and will be starting school for that in April. Needless to say, I am learning that there are LOTS of unknowns.
There other unknown is Brad’s work. He has started working out of town and there is no set schedule to it. It’s not a job where he works 3 weeks on and has a week off. He just works until they are done or are waiting for another delivery truck or things like that. Please hear me…I am NOT complaining at all. I am so grateful that he has work in this rough economy. I am just finding that I don’t like the “not knowing”. I don’t know when I will see him, I don’t know when I will see Tyler and I just get so tired of telling my friends I don’t know.
Even though it isn’t very long, this post has taken me several days to write. When I started it, I was just feeling really alone but now I am feeling God working…I am just not to the end of this learning stage yet. I just want to get to the other side of it, having learned everything I am supposed to learn, so that I don’t keep going around the same tree over and over again. I want those days to be over. I want seasons to be seasons one after the other, not repeat winter after winter after winter. Until next time…
I was thinking today that I should have started doing this a long time ago, but you know how that goes. There is always something else that keeps us busy or entertained or otherwise occupied. I don’t know exactly what I am going to say here, but I know that will come. Maybe it will even be a bit cathartic.
Just this past week, I was talking to someone about that time in a mom’s life when her children begin to leave the nest and move out into the world to live their own lives. She was talking to me about a Bible study that she is about to begin about the anonymous years in Jesus’ life. She compared those years to those of a mom. You are always someone’s wife or someone’s mom. Identity is wrapped up in the family. While there is nothing wrong with that, when the kids begin to leave home, it creates a kind of vacuum or loneliness that is very hard to describe. My first, Tyler just left the nest in October and I must say, the feelings that came with it were a huge surprise to me. He didn’t choose to go to college or join the workforce right away…he chose to join the United State Marine Corps….and as I am sitting here writing this blog, he is about to complete the most difficult thing he has ever done in his life.
You see, Tyler has always been a very smart, gifted kid, but he was one of those that just did enough to get by. He never quite put himself out there to live up to the ability that was inside him. He got B’s and C’s in school, even a couple of D’s instead of A’s like he could have. As a mom, this was so hard to watch. Don’t get me wrong, Tyler was and is a GREAT kid. I can count on my hands the times that I really had to get after him. He was (while living at home) always respectful and helpful for the most part. I just knew that I knew that he was capable of more. In October of his senior year, his friend Christian took him to a Marine Corps recruiter and he was hooked. I was shocked! I just never imagined that he would want to join the military! My sister has been in the Navy pretty much since high school with a small break in the middle and my youngest has talked about being a Marine since she was 8. But Tyler? No…really? Really.
He left on October 25th, 2011….one of the hardest days of my life. I knew it was going to be hard, but little did I know how my heart would ache…how my mind would question if I had done enough as his mom…how I would feel lonely in a way that was strange and foreign and uncomfortable. I will talk more about this later…
And now he has ONE more major obstacle to accomplish before he has the title of United States Marine….the Crucible…54 dreaded hours, 48 miles on foot, 29 problem solving exercises, 36 different stations, 3 meals (MRE’s) and 4 hours of sleep…all with nearly 100 pounds and an M16A4. And again, all in FIFTY-FOUR HOURS. This nearly 13 weeks is the most difficult thing he has every had to do. He qualified expert on the firing range, fought severe shin splints for the majority of boot camp and did not quit. He pushed past the laziness inside of him and put one foot in front of the other and WILL make it all the way. I know this because it is his time. He is putting everything up to now behind him and choosing to do more than is expected, more than he is capable of and living up to the potential that God has placed inside of him. There is only more to come. I know God has placed in him the ability to lead. I have seen glimpses of it. I just know…It is now his time.