True heroism...is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
- Arthur Ashe
During our son’s first deployment to the Middle East I often found myself fighting overwhelming fear and worry.
Although I had some people around me who knew what I was going through, I hadn’t yet developed the wisdom to reach out to them when the fear took over.
Luckily I didn’t always have to.
The support I so desperately needed occasionally rang my doorbell and stood on my front porch. Women who had walked the path of praying for a soldier at war, among others, often reached out before I had the chance to self-destruct.
I remember one instance in particular. I was at home late one afternoon. My other two sons were out playing and I was alone. I sat with my Bible unopened in my lap as I flipped through TV channels, looking for something to take my mind off of where my son was and what he might be doing.
The ringing doorbell dragged me away from my impending pity party. There on my front porch stood a woman from my church. Jane and I knew each other, but not well. She was a teacher at our sons’ school and we had kids close in age. More importantly, she had a husband in the National Guard.
I invited her in.
“No, I can’t stay.” She took a step back and reached into her purse as I joined her on the front porch. “I just wanted you to know you’re not alone.” She pulled out a giant Hershey’s chocolate bar and handed it to me.
The shock on my face must have been obvious because she grinned. “I know chocolate can’t make up for the fact that Jimmy isn’t here, but I wanted you to know people care about you as much as they care about him.”
My tears made thanking her almost impossible. She saved me from answering by wrapping me in a much-needed hug as she continued to explain. “Someone brought me a candy bar just like this once when Terry was deployed. For some reason it made a big difference. I wanted to do the same for you.”
This short visit was a turning point for me. It took me out of myself and made me realize I was part of a very special community. The simple gift of a candy bar showed me that God and his people were actively thinking and praying for us.
It’s this knowledge–that God is working through his people and hasn’t forgotten us–that provides the biggest comfort a military family can have. Don’t hesitate to reach out and let a wife or mother know you care. A small gesture could be exactly what they need to turn the corner to peace.
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.