Today was one of those frustrating parenting days. The kind where my precious children argued over everything: who got the red bowl, the blue ball, and the stuffed horse. On top of that, there was an overdose of whining and screaming for reasons beyond me. It was tiring, chaotic, hard, and in some strange way, lonely.
Tonight, I trudged down the stairs after I’d finally brushed the last tooth, read the last book, and tucked the last child into bed. Collapsing on the sofa in the living room, I glanced at the television. My husband had just walked in from a meeting and turned it on. The movie American Sniper was playing. I watched for a few moments, and the weight of what soldiers must go through began to settle in my mind, feeling heavy and unimaginable. How tiring, chaotic, hard, and indeed lonely it must be for you to be stationed in a foreign place away from your family.
I thought of you and how much you must miss your family. How much you must wish you could just walk outside and play with your children, read bedtime stories, and tuck them in. How much you must wish you could take your spouse on a date, or go to your mom’s house for Sunday lunch. How much you must wish you could just plop down, put your feet up, and relax at the end of a hard day. But you can’t, can you? You remain in my thoughts, so I decided to write you. Though we’ve never met, you reminded me of something tonight. I can wake in the morning, hug my babies, and yes, probably hear sibling squabbles, because you, and so many others like you, are willing to pay a very high price so that we can live in freedom.
“Thank you,” doesn’t seem to say enough, yet really, what more can I say? Except maybe this: sacrifice, service for another, is indeed our highest calling. Jesus Himself taught us this and lived it out by giving His life for you and me. It’s hard to imagine such a love as this, isn’t it? You also demonstrate your love for others by your willingness to sacrifice and serve so that another’s life may be free.
Perhaps, “thank you,” is not enough. My freedom, earned by your sacrifice, should not be cheap. Though you are over there, and I am sitting here, freedom should cost me something as well. When I’m standing in line at Starbucks looking forward to my favorite latte, when I’m laying on the picnic blanket with my children watching the fireworks explode over the lake, when I’m sitting around the dinner table with my extended family, plates, and hearts full, it should cost me something. It should cost me my apathetic attitude toward living in this beautiful country. It should cost me my flippancy toward all of the privileges and blessings that are at my disposal daily. It should cost me my selfishness when my prevailing thoughts are about what I want or what I need.
While you are serving over there, I should be serving over here by loving and serving my neighbor as myself. While you are defending us over there, I should be defending those here who are marginalized, left out, and overlooked. While you are protecting us over there, I should be protecting us over here from the bigotry, apathy, and callousness that is prevalent in our society.
Your calling is high, Soldier. From the depths of my heart, I thank you for your service. But even more than that, I thank you for reminding me that my calling is higher still: to live a life worthy of your service and ultimately, Jesus’ sacrifice.
This Grateful Mom