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  • Writer's picturePam

Through the Eyes of a Soldier's Mother

Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember the ultimate sacrifice men and women gave for this country. For most of us, it’s a day for friends and family to get together, kicking off the summer. While in many ways I’m looking forward to our day as well, there is also a heaviness in my heart. You see, when you have a son (or daughter) that has experienced war firsthand, I’m not sure a mother’s heart will ever be the same, which means Memorial Day takes on a whole new meaning.

As a mother, we instinctively want to protect our children. When they are young, we jump in to protect them from a skinned knee (or forehead in the case of the picture!). When they are in high school we want to protect them from being picked on and teased, wanting again to protect them from another kind of pain. We worry when they start driving, and it’s there when we start to realize that we have no control over their hurts and what happens. We can no longer really protect them. Now imagine a mother’s heart when their son is ½ way around the world at war. You don’t know if he’s lonesome for home, bored crazy because he’s waiting for the next mission assignment, if he’s scared beyond reason because he’s scared for his life, or even if he just watched his buddy die. For this mother’s heart, and I imagine every parent’s heart of a soldier, it will never be the same; and our hearts don’t even compare to the hearts of these soldiers, and what they are going through.

The time that my son served in Afghanistan was one of the most difficult times of my life. I will never forget him walking down the gateway to his flight out on his deployment. Tears still roll down my face as I think about it. I remember such mixed emotions of incredible pride that our son was willing to take on such an incredible thing, and at the same time greater sadness than anything I had ever felt before, wondering what he was walking into, or if I’d ever even see him again. Awful. From that moment on, my heart was forever changed.

In the months he was gone I don’t think there was ever a moment where I was free from worry. Even in my laughter there was a heaviness, wondering what he was doing, or how he was doing. It was almost like I was in a fog – going through the daily motions yet not fully able to take in each day. I remember feeling guilty if, for a split second, I was having fun. How could I be laughing and having fun not knowing if he was okay? We lived for, and anxiously waited, for any form of communication from him. A phone call, an email, a letter…anything. When that phone call finally came, we never wanted to hang up. We had times of just quiet on the phone, but it didn’t matter because we knew he was on the other end of the line. Hanging up meant we had to let go again. I remember a span when at least 6 weeks went by without a single form of communication. I wouldn’t, and couldn’t, let my mind go as to why we hadn’t heard. All I could do was pray, trusting and claiming in that promise God made through His Word, that He was right there with him. Truthfully that is the only peace I found, was through my faith in Jesus. I prayed, I begged God, to protect him physically, emotionally, and spiritually every single day, multiple times a day.

One of the happiest days of my life was when I waited “patiently” for him to walk back up the gateway on the day of his return. Many mothers with similar hearts were waiting there with me (and fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, friends) stretching our necks to see if our soldier was the next soldier. As soldiers came through the ramp door, people in the airport stopped to watch, clapping and cheering as each one entered. The pride we felt had never been stronger. And then I saw his face, there was my son. Smiling as he turned the corner into the airport; thinner, a little worn, much more a man, was my son. That was a hug I will never forget.

Those reunions that you see on TV or on the internet, are emotional and good, but what one has to realize is, the war is not over for the soldier or his family; that soldier is still at war. The struggle for them in many ways has just begun; trying to fit back in to a life that they once knew yet doesn’t feel right to them anymore. Trying to understand the self-centeredness of Americans when they’ve seen the poverty, hurt, and war is a battle unto its own. Their lives, and the lives of their families, will never be the same.

God answered my prayers of my heart. It wasn’t immediate. It didn’t look like it I thought it would. It didn’t happen in the time frame that I was hoping for, but He did answer them. He used that time to mold and change me, along with my son. He used it for good, even in my pain as a mom who struggled (struggles) letting go. He used it to teach me full dependence on Him. He changed my heart to feel even greater compassion. He used it to show me that He is faithful and always keeps His promises; maybe not exactly how I envisioned, but I now see that God’s ways are far better than anything I could ever dream of! He brought me to a place that I believe God is for my son, for me, and trusting that His ways are always best even when the circumstances may not appear that way. For that I am thankful.

So, why did God choose to answer my prayer this way and not someone else’s? I do not know. He is God and I am not. I do know my heavy heart hurts for them. I do know to a certain degree the amount of pride they must feel, along with the indescribable grief. I do know the sacrifices not only the soldier made, but the family that was home supporting them. I know that God is good. I know that God is for you and for me, even when things appear differently. I know that it is my responsibility to pray for the families of those who we remember today as they remember their loved one. I also know it’s my responsibility to pray for the men and women serving today, along with their families, for their protection, provision, and peace so that you and I can live free. This sacrifice that we take for granted every day, for the freedom to “post” our thoughts and opinions, to live freely, has been paid for at a great cost. So, my heartfelt gratitude on this Memorial Day, and every day, goes out to all who gave of their lives, to those who continue to serve the country, and their families at home. That is what makes this country great.

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