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Joining the Military

When Guideposts blogger Edie Melson’s son decided to join the military as a marine right out of high school, it was a tough decision for her to accept. Here’s how she coped.

Joining the military. How one mom coped with her son's decision to enlist in the Marines.

I still remember that day. Our oldest son was in high school, and the Marine recruiters had visited during school. A vague idea of his had solidified into certainty: He wanted to enlist when he graduated high school.

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My emotions churned, and my stomach heaved. This was 2005, and we were in the middle of the Iraq conflict. The media was full of images that flashed through my mind. I knew enlisting was synonymous with going to war. Fear and pride fought as I struggled to process the ramifications:

  • My son being shot
  • My son a hero
  • My son unprotected
  • My son defending those who couldn’t defend themselves
  • My son injured or worse
  • My son, a man

My first response was not a proud momma moment. As they tell it, I stuck my fingers in my ears, hummed the “Star Spangled Banner” and refused to discuss the issue for several weeks. It had to be just a phase. My husband and I are both professionals. Our sons would attend college; that had never been optional. Or so I’d thought.

How I longed for the transition time that college would bring. It would be my chance to learn to let go as our son journeyed from boy to man. Enlisting in the military would make that transition almost instantaneous. I wanted his choice to be different, I wanted to un-hear what he’d just announced. I mourned the death of my dream.

Eventually, I did listen.

Our son sat us down and explained the call he felt to serve. In my heart, I began to make the transition. I chose pride in his selfless choice over the fear of what that choice might mean. I remember the lump in my throat as I swallowed hard. With tears in my eyes, I promised to support him as he began the process of becoming a Marine. 

I’ve blogged several times about praying for our men and women in the armed services. But I haven’t talked about why it’s so vitally important for us to do so. So today I’m going to break down the ways we need to remember our soldiers in prayer and why.

1)  Physical Protection
Any time I hear the word soldier, scenes of war-zone battlefields flash across my mind. It’s vital that we pray for the physical safety of our armed forces. In this new paradigm of warfare, there are no frontlines. Everyone who serves is at risk. Beyond the fact of the constant dangers during deployments, many injuries also occur during training.

2)  Emotional Protection
During deployment, our soldiers face situations that the average person can’t even imagine. War is an ugly thing. We need to pray constantly for God to gift the men and women who serve with the ability to process what they see and experience.

3)  Spiritual Protection
Experiencing war first-hand can shake even the strongest believer. Reconciling the God we know with the God who allows war to exist at all is difficult. We must pray that God will protect and strengthen those who serve in these situations.

4)  Homecoming
Truthfully, coming home from deployment can be the hardest part of serving in the armed forces. Moving from life at war to life at home requires major adjustments–physically, mentally and emotionally.

5)  Strength 
This is especially needed when it comes to multiple deployments. Going back on deployment is sometimes even harder than going the first time.

While our men and women in the armed services now know what to expect, they also know the struggles they’re facing. And the second and third time around, those emotional and spiritual wounds are often sensitive.

When we raise our prayers on behalf of those serving in the military, we join a swelling chorus of petitions. There is power in prayer and power in the number of people praying. So join me as we lift up our men and women who serve.

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