What I Wish I’d Known Before Boot Camp

A military mom learns how to turn her child over to God

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Posted in , Nov 4, 2014

Edie's son, Jimmy, at Parris Island, SC, boot camp for Marines

Today a friend of mine sent her son off to Marine Corps boot camp. As I think about the journey she’s about to embark upon, I can’t help but reflect on my own journey.

We sent our son off to Marine Corps boot camp in July of 2006, and although there are some things that have changed, a lot hasn’t. There’s so much I wish I’d known when he entered boot camp. And even though I can’t go back in time, I can share some of those things with you today.

1. There’ll be days when the tears won’t stop.
This is an emotional time for those who have a loved one entering the military. Instead of a gradual letting go as a son or daughter leaves for college, it’s a sudden change.

One minute they’re home, under our loving care. The next minute, they’re embarking on becoming part of our military defense. Give yourself permission to experience the gamut of emotions that are coming.

Edie's son, Jimmy, at Parris Island boot camp for Marines in South Carolina2. There are people who won’t agree with the decision your child has made.
This one was hard for me. I knew the sacrifice our son was making. Beyond that, I knew why he’d chosen to make it. He wanted to make a difference by taking a harder route because he felt it was his responsibility.

It hurt me deeply when people criticized my son, but I had to learn to let it go. Their criticism stemmed from their own struggles and issues, and reflected much more on them than on him.

3. Your prayer life is about to become real in ways you never imagined.
The most amazing part of the time my son spent in the military was the change in my prayer life. I saw God work in ways I’d never even dared hope. I had time of sweet communion when I felt like I was sitting in the room with God.

I had other times when it felt like I was sweating blood and still the prayers wouldn’t come. Most of all I saw God do a work in me, giving me peace when the world would have me believe there was no peace, and showing me what it meant to be a prayer warrior.

4. Never take time together for granted.
Having a son in the military made me hyper aware that we aren’t promised a certain amount of time together with those we love. I learned to treasure the times we had together and appreciate them more.

It made me more determined to experience the moments as they happened, instead of wishing something could have been different.

5. He will come home different.
Not bad different, but good different. He’ll have been through something that tested him, and he’s come out the other side stronger and more confident.

It’s not as obvious as a swagger; he knows he hasn’t arrived. But he’ll carry himself with a quiet pride at what he’s accomplished in a few short weeks.

6. When he comes home, you will also be different.
God was at work in me just as much as in my son. I learned what it truly meant to turn my child over and trust that God would take care of him. This brought a foundation of peace to my own life that I’d not experienced to this degree.

These are the things I’d go back and tell myself if I could. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tags: Soldier,Peace
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