As believers, we’re called to speak love and life to families who face the particular challenges of military life.
Posted in , Feb 26, 2018
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4, NIV)
I think everyone agrees that words do have the power to harm. Sometimes those daggers are hurled with the intent to hurt. Other times, words are just spoken in haste and without thought. Whatever the motivation, we all carry scars from injuries inflicted by words.
When our son first announced his intent to enlist in the military instead of attending college, his father and I were very careful about the words we chose in response. We wanted him to know how proud we were of him, but we also wanted him to think through what his decision could actually cost him.
We successfully navigated that minefield, and he felt our support and concern without feeling that we disapproved of his choice.
Others in our circle weren’t as careful. One day I was at a meeting at school and had another mother pull me aside and chastise me for allowing our son to enlist. She was quite vocal in her belief that we were going to ultimately be responsible for his death if we let him go through with what she termed “a foolish choice.” Another time, a person I barely knew proceeded to tell me that my son would become a murderer in the eyes of God when he participated in acts of war.
My son also experienced the cruelty of words. During his training, his platoon was taken off-base for an exercise. When they returned, they were held up by masses of protestors. They carried signs accusing these young military men and women of horrific atrocities. They shouted obscenities and threats.
I don’t share these stories as a bid for sympathy, only as an example of what we should avoid. We had a lot of friends and family who spoke words of hope and love when they heard about our son’s decision. I will always be grateful to them in ways I cannot begin to express. The words of others were often what sustained me during times of worry and fear.
As believers, we’re called to speak love and life to a world that’s hurting. Condemnation and hatred don’t make any of us feel better or help the situation.
Military families already face challenging circumstances. Let’s make sure that our words to them are affirming and encouraging, no matter what.