Frequently people think compassion and love are merely sentimental. No! They are very demanding. If you are going to be compassionate, be prepared for action.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
If you’ve visited this blog more than once you may have noticed that I’m a bit of a control freak. I often try to disguise this trait as helpfulness. But to be brutally honest, it’s almost always a control issue. My family and friends are good natured about this part of my character, but I know it’s a trial.
I’ve had to battle this tendency a lot, but never more than when it comes to my kids. For example, I’ve had a definite opinion about their course to adulthood since they were born. In my mind, there was never a doubt they’d each attend college, get married and generally live happily ever after.
I had many reasons for this collegiate expectation. For one, their father set the example. My husband is an engineer with a master’s degree, and it never occurred to me that his sons wouldn’t follow in his footsteps. Also, I never finished college and that had been one of my biggest regrets. I’ve been very vocal about the roadblocks the lack of a college degree put in my path.
So, when our oldest son came home and informed us he wanted to join the Marine Corps straight out of high school, I was blindsided. I was also emphatically against it. As a matter of fact, I plugged my ears and sang the Star Spangled Banner to drown out his attempts to convince me it would be a good idea. Obviously not one of my finer moments as a mother.
I remember quite clearly the conversation I had with God as I lay in bed later that very evening. I had a lot to say to Him on the matter. Looking back I can’t help but wonder if He didn’t fight the impulse to plug His own ears to drown out my whining.
Eventually I stopped fighting back and began to listen to what our son had to say. He won me over with these simple words. “Mom, I know you’re worried. But I feel God’s call to join the military. And you know I’m safer in the middle of His will–in the middle of a war–than I ever could be out of His will.”
Of course he was right, and I felt such joy and pride in his decision that I could hardly stand it. Those words, that simple belief in God, has held me through many a sleepless night.
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.