For Those Who Love Someone in Uniform

If a friend were to flip through your camera roll later today and look at all of the Fourth-of-July moments you captured, would she notice what’s missing in every one of them? More accurately, would she notice who isn’t there?

It would be obvious to you as you watch her scroll through the pictures and videos of your little ones waving flags along the parade route, the live concert you caught on the boardwalk, the sparklers illuminating your driveway, or your dog’s reaction to the fireworks going off in your neighborhood. The red, white, and blue blur of activity wouldn’t be enough to make you forget about your loved one in uniform: 

  • Your adult child who serves as a soldier, sailor, or airman
  • Your husband who works as a police officer or firefighter
  • Your family member who is employed on the frontlines

How do you manage your emotions on a day like today when you feel the weight and worry of your loved one’s absence as much as you feel admiration and respect for his role? 

A Solemn Reminder 

The Fourth of July and related holidays remind the rest of us of the sacrifices being made by those in uniformed services all year long. These special occasions also draw attention to the battles their family members face, especially the anxiety and fear they fight while their loved ones risk their lives in dangerous roles. 

Over the last year, I’ve watched my friend “Maria,” a mom to a son in the military, model what it looks like to entrust her adult child to the Lord and seek His wisdom when it comes to navigating their new normal. When her son first chose to pursue a career in the military, Maria and her husband were surprised. No one in their family had any recent military connections. Looking back, she admits her perception of those who entered the military was way off base: 

I mistakenly thought that those who entered the military did so because they had been in some sort of trouble and needed to rehabilitate in a structured environment or they simply didn’t know what else to do with their life. In our case, our son began taking interest in a career in the military at a young age. When he was thirteen, he became part of a group that is an auxiliary of the Air Force. Through that experience, we saw his interest grow. This also provided us the opportunity to begin to learn about military life. And, boy, did we have a lot to learn. We still do.

In this interview, Maria shares some of the lessons she’s learned as a mom to a son in uniform. She shares some of the challenges she’s experienced along the way and offers encouragement from God’s Word that will anchor your heart in truth, especially if you’ve ever found yourself struggling to entrust a loved one’s career path to the Lord. 

Lessons Learned Back Home 

Q: When your son chose to pursue this career path, did it align with your expectations and hopes for his life? 

Maria: Our desire for our son has always gone beyond his career. We have made every effort to instill a love for God and the conviction that all of life is about worshiping God by serving Him with the gifts that He has uniquely given each of us. It is all about discovering how and where we can most fully serve Him by living out who He has created us to be. In living that out, we will also find the most fulfillment and joy. 

We have been blessed to see that God has clearly led our son in the way in which he can use the gifts that God has given him in a specialized way. Doing so also requires that he sacrifice for the greater good of others. He has counted that cost and determined that it is worth it. Who are we to stand in the way of that, even though from a human perspective the risk could not be more high?

Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a mom of a son in uniform?

Maria: Someone has said, “Military life is having a plan. Then a new plan. Then another plan. Then the first plan. Then a brand new plan, only to go back to the second plan.” I have grown to accept the fact that our son does not have much say on what he does and when he does it. Essentially we are continually learning a new level of flexibility as a family. 

As an example, one particular week two years ago, our son surprised us by coming home unexpectedly—twice. The first time was a stopover en route to an assignment. While calling to wake us up in the middle of the night, he rang our doorbell. The call was intended to be a thoughtful notice in order to not startle us. We cherished the brief time together and sent him off the next day thinking we wouldn’t see him again for some months. After reporting to his station, it turned out there was a miscommunication between departments and he wasn’t going to be able to do what he was sent there to do. He chose to head back home and surprised us again in the wee hours, this time resulting in an extended stay of six weeks. 

This journey can be a bit like a roller coaster ride for sure, and sometimes I find myself wishing I could get off to avoid the emotional ups and downs that come with it. My bent is toward planning things in advance. God is reshaping that and stretching me in good ways because that simply is not possible for those connected with military life.

Q: It’s expected that uniformed professions include inherent risks and dangers. How do you manage worry, anxiety, and concern for your son’s safety? 

Maria: When our son was taking steps toward making a commitment to military life, the Lord graciously reminded me of a truth that He impressed on me while still pregnant with him. At the time we were living in another country away from all that was familiar and this was our first child. I was feeling some apprehension about all that was involved with having a child in a culture that was still relatively new to us. The Lord made it clear in my heart and mind that He loved the child I was carrying even more than I did and that His care of him extended beyond anything that I was able to give. It is in that love and care that I anchor my heart, knowing that God loves our son so much more than I possibly could and His watchcare over him is perfect. 

In reality, our son was never ours. He is a gift entrusted to our care for a time. The time we have had has been a tremendous privilege and blessing. In addition, there have been times when the Holy Spirit has prompted us to pray for our son’s safety, not knowing why. We have later learned that that prompting came at a crucial moment when circumstances were pivotal or even dangerous. This has made us more keenly aware of the need to be sensitive to God’s leading and quick to intercede.

Q: How have you adjusted to your son’s irregular schedule? What advice would you give to a mom struggling with her adult child’s absence during holidays, special occasions, or other important family moments? 

Maria: The irregularity of the schedule continues to be a learning experience for us. We have always been a close family and genuinely enjoy one another’s company. Because of that we cherish the time we are able to spend together and strive to be fully present during those times. In a real sense, the traditions and hoopla that can easily overtake holidays have been stripped down to what matters most, and that is a good thing. We try to have regular times of connecting via FaceTime and calls to maintain the communication in our relationship. 

We make it clear that there is no guilt when circumstances are beyond his control and it doesn’t work to be together or connect on a given day. We seek ways to support him through encouragement whenever possible, while also trying to include him on what happens on the homefront.

Q: How have you seen this role impact your son in a positive way? What are some reasons that you are grateful he chose this path?

Maria: We have begun to see our son grow in his awareness of the spiritual battle around him as he has embraced the course God has marked out for him. He knows that there are weapons formed against him that extend beyond the physical realm, and the only way to stand against those are to constantly depend on the strength and wisdom that God gives when asked. The people and situations that have served to shape and guide his life have been orchestrated by God. There is a humility that comes with acknowledging and living in that awareness. 

Q: What has the Lord taught you about Himself through this journey? 

Maria: There is a passage in Deuteronomy 1:29–33 that speaks strongly to my heart on this journey:

“So I said to you: Don’t be terrified or afraid of them! The Lord your God who goes before you will fight for you, just as you saw him do for you in Egypt. And you saw in the wilderness how the Lord your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God, who went before you on the journey to seek out a place for you to camp. He went in the fire by night and in the cloud by day to guide you on the road you were to travel.”

The context of this passage is Moses speaking to the Israelites as they were on the brink of entering the land God had promised. They had forgotten the incredible way God had led them in the wilderness and began to doubt His promises as they looked around them and considered what they were up against. They needed the reminder of God’s faithfulness and tender care of them. God carried His chosen people just as a father carries his son. 

God has not changed. He is just as faithful today as He was to the Israelites. His tender care of my son is not limited to time or location or whether or not he is in uniform. I can rest and be at peace knowing that God sees, He knows, and He is in control.

Q: If you were sitting across from another mom who was struggling with the weight of her child’s career path, what truth from God’s Word would you want to share with her? 

Maria: The particular career path is not what matters most. The condition of your child’s heart and the relationship he or she has with the Lord is what transcends any and all careers. If they are seeking the Lord and desiring to use the gifts that He has entrusted to them for His glory, wherever that path may take them is the safest, most secure place they could possibly be. 

Our job as parents is not to figure out what that particular path is or seek to control the situations that we think may best guide them. Instead, we must help them grow in their relationship with the Lord and thus their ability to learn to recognize His leading in their life. God is more than able to accomplish His purposes in the lives of our children. And as I said before, He loves them far more than we ever could. In many respects it comes down to our own trust in the Lord and surrendering our will to His.

Q: What is your prayer for your son? 

Maria: My prayer for our son comes from Ephesians 1:16–19,

I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.

If our son grows in his understanding of who God is and becomes more deeply aware of how He is at work, I believe he will be prepared for all of life, no matter where it takes him. Along with that is a desire that he would humbly rely on the Lord for his daily, moment by moment needs and be quick to make much of what God does in his midst. 

Q: Do you have any other advice for a mom in a similar situation to yours?

Maria: The short answer is to run to God’s Word and remain there. You will be held securely as your footing is firm on the immovable rock. Take every thought captive and be transformed by the renewing of your mind in the truth.

To our readers in the United States, Happy Independence Day! After you’ve enjoyed a barbecue and some fireworks, settle in with this episode of Revive Our HeartsWeekend as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Dannah Gresh, and more celebrate a different kind of freedom—the kind that’s only found in Christ. 

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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