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A Mother’s Prayer for Her Soldier Son

Man’s best friend teaches her son the priceless lesson that kindness always pays.

A Mother's Prayer for Her Soldier Son

The day our younger son Rick left home for the Marine Corps was a heart-wrenching one for me. Beside the fact that I just hate good-byes, this was my “baby” going off to become a fighting man. I couldn’t help worrying that military training would destroy Rick’s loving, compassionate spirit.

Dear Lord, make him tough, if necessary. But, please, Lord, I prayed, keep him tender. Now who but a mother would make a request like that?

Rick endured the rigors of basic training and Officer Candidate School. Then, after advanced instruction, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina. There—seeking a little off-duty peace and quiet of his own—he rented a small house out in the country. Always athletic, he looked forward to the solitude of his daily six-mile run along picturesque fields and meadows.

A problem developed, though. It seems that on each farm there were several large dogs. They didn’t take too kindly to this strange intruder racing through their territories. Every day, by the time Rick made it back to his house, he was tripping over a whole pack of yelping dogs, most of them snarling at his heels. It was not the tranquil time he had envisioned. Hoping to discourage the attackers, he tried kicking, swinging a stick, yelling. Nothing worked.

One day, Rick phoned home. “Mother,” he began, “you know those dogs that have been making my life miserable? Well, I remembered you taught us that ‘kindness always pays.’ So I decided to give it a try.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Yesterday, as I ran,” he said, “when my patience had been pushed to the limit, I just stopped in my tracks, whirled around to face them, stooped down on one knee, and talked to them in my best ‘pet-talk’ voice. And you know what?” Rick’s voice was smiling now. “Those dogs started wagging their tails and kissing me on the face, each trying to get closer than the other.”

“What happened today when you ran?” I wanted to know.

“You wouldn’t believe the difference,” Rick said. “It was so peaceful! Passing one farm after the other, the whole crowd fell in and ran as usual. But this time they ran with me—not against me. I must have looked like the Pied Piper by the time we got back to my house.” I smiled into the phone, picturing my young, still-sensitive son. For Rick had solved his problem. And God had answered a mother’s prayer.

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