I have debated whether to post this...it's a bit of raw emotion...but after praying about it, decided to go ahead. Maybe I speak for other Mom's who are sending their son's off to war. I don't know. Warning....you don't have to read it!
Some of you have asked about Ryan and thank you for that. At the time, I wasn't sure what to post. The Station where he was supposed to ship from (here), said they had no paperwork on him whatsoever (despite the fact that he sat in THEIR offices for hours filling it out). Ryan also had sustained an injury to his hip, and well...this Mama's heart was hoping, hoping, that maybe he would get discharged or something.
Since then, Jeff has called the MI service office and they had Ryan's paperwork on record. Odd...since he filled it out HERE.
Ryan is in physical therapy for his hip injury and it looks like it will heal just fine--not something that will prevent him from passing the mil*tary physical.
Yesterday, he told me that he had 'one month and five days,' until he shipped. My heart started to hurt. Badly. Reality is setting in again after a few months reprieve and I have to face the fact that my baby, my firstborn is going into harms way. Then my mind would find another spot of hope...maybe he wouldn't have to go THERE. You know...THERE...the desert place they talk about on the news.
But then...last night, more news came that 20,000 more men would be sent THERE.
And this morning, it overwhelmed me. I am not one who cries much, but I sat and sobbed at the thought of my son going over there. I grieved for this young man...barely out of childhood, who truly has no idea what he has gotten himself into. I grieve for the innocence he is about to lose. I grieve for the burden he will have to bear for the rest of his life from the memories he will have from that place. And I question...is this God's purpose for Ryan's life?
It is a question that I cannot answer. But this I know...no matter where we go, God is with us. I know that Ryan is His child and that God will hold him tight--whether on a battlefield or on US soil.
So I begged God to give this Mama's heart some comfort. I opened my Bible. It fell open to Psalm 23. Nooooo.....that is NOT what I meant, God. I don't want to read THAT. That's the passage they read at funerals. Not THAT, God.
But that is where I was. I could not deny that it was reaching for my heart. So I read it. I read about God's rod and staff comforting me when I passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
And I realized some things. While Ryan is over there, I will live in the valley of the shadow of death...wondering each day if officers will show up at my front door. I'm really not sure how I will cope with that. I dread it. I don't want to be in the valley of the shadow of death. I don't want my baby to be there.
But the valley is where we are going and there is nothing I can do to stop it. (Well, nothing honorable, anyway, and yes, I have considered it.)
While I pondered all of that, I reached for a book called, "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23," by Phillip Keller. I highly recommend this book!
He was a shepherd, and explains the rod and staff. I needed to find out how a rod and a staff were going to help me walk through the valley. I can't write out all that I read--you'll have to get the book--but here are a few highlights:
The rod is a symbol of the Word of God, or the Bible. It can be a weapon of protection, a way to safeguard the flock. Picture a shepherd carrying a lamb, while holding a weapon that fights off any attempt to harm it. By reading my Bible daily, I can be protected from letting my mind go off in the wrong direction--in ways that are harmful for me and for everyone around me.
The staff is a symbol of the Spirit of God. A shepherd uses a staff to comfort, lift lambs up, and sometimes just to guide. There are times when the shepherd will apply a gentle pressure on the side of a sheep with his staff and will leave it there as they walk together--sort of hand-in-hand. Likewise, I have the Shepherd to comfort me, lift me up and carry me close to His heart as we walk together through the valley.
I cannot honestly say that I am all better now. However, I know that whatever comes, God will be there right beside me--probably carrying me--and I will survive. He never wastes our pain. He never doles out pain capriciously. There is always, always a purpose. And He has already walked this valley Himself. He sent His Son for me, for you...He knows intimately the pain of a Mother's heart.
And He holds my heart in His strong, loving hands. And there I am safe.