The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.
- Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
When our son joined the Marine Corps, I came face to face with every parent’s biggest fear: that one of my children might die.
I did everything I could to avoid acknowledging that fact. Just thinking he wouldn’t come home seemed to up the odds that it would happen.
Because of when he’d enlisted and the specialty he’d chosen (infantry Marine), I knew he’d face deployment in the Middle East. Truthfully that was why he’d joined, so he could go and defend our country. But with all this knowledge came the certainty that I was no longer in charge of keeping him safe. This was tough, because keeping him safe (along with our other two sons) had been my goal for a long time. And all things counted, I hadn’t done too bad a job of it.
But facing his deployment made me examine my belief that I’d spent the past 18 years keeping him safe. It led to a night of wrestling worthy of Jacob himself.
Could I really claim I’d been the one to give him the tools to make wise decisions? Had I really been the one who prevented mishaps and catastrophes in his life? Don’t get me wrong: I’d certainly tried, and I’d been around to prevent some mishaps, but not many. Had I truly equipped him to face what was ahead?
That night, while I came to grips with the assumptions behind these beliefs, I realized my thoughts were just another attempt at control. I’d equipped... I’d given... I’d prevented. In reality, I hadn’t been the one to equip, give or prevent. God had. Oh, God had allowed me to help on occasion, but he’d been the one who’d orchestrated events to prepare my son for life. It was a good thing, too. I had no idea where my son’s life was headed. I could make some guesses, but so far my track record wasn’t good. But God’s track record was perfect.
Philippians 4:17 came immediately to my mind, giving me comfort and peace: And my God will supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. I could count on God’s promises to be true not only in my life, but also in the lives of my children.
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.