The dawning of December this year brings with it more excitement than it has held since the Christmas Hunter turned three. Jake left in mid-August for Army basic training. Freshly out of high school… stuck between the boy he used to be and the man he will one day become.
It was harder on him than some in his group. I don’t know if it was because he had a sheltered life, that he was a homebody, or the fact he had never had anyone in-his-face screaming and cursing when he didn’t do things perfectly. More than likely it was that all these things collided at one time, hundreds of miles from home, with no telephone or computer…his only means of communication left…handwritten letters. And to one born in the instant communication generation…it seemed to take a lifetime.
The first weeks were hardest…he was homesick…thought he had made a mistake…and wanted to come home. Oh, how I remember the days from my own boot camp experience. It is the natural progression of emotion that takes place during basic as the individual is broken and the team built. Just about the time he decided he wanted to stay…he suffered stress fractures in both knees. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions for both the boy transitioning into warrior and the mother who could not go and “fix” things…could not put her arms around her little boy, pat him on the back, and tell him everything was going to be fine.
As I sort through the basket on my desk, stuffed with important bits of his mail and the letters he wrote; I run my fingers across sentences written from his heart… words taken from devotions… and scriptures he clung to in the days when he felt alone… sentiments expressed as he came to grips with exactly what he has signed up for…his commitment becoming a reality.
“I am a man of a forceful nature; but glory and doom walk hand in hand. I can not cast these emotions aside. I am troubled that I am being trained to hunt, kill, suppress, and destroy another. If someone were to ask me what the most stressful, most depressing or most unsatisfying part of my life was; it would be now. The way it is here. Do what you are told. You can not go and you can not stand to stay.”
“Give your cares to God and He will lift your burden.”
“The days drag on yet we still live our lives. We can not feel, notice, or sense the earth’s movement, but we know it moves. God is in the motion. Like the earth, we can not see it, but we know that He is there.”
“My faith has definitely grown stronger in this place.”
It is to this last sentence I cling… it’s what I’ve prayed for night after night, day after day…draw him to You; Lord…put your arms around him when I can not. It is in this place where mother and son come together, two hearts closing the miles… with one prayer…to guide…to protect…to always know God’s presence… not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.
He graduates MP training in January and will be stationed in Missouri…just six hours from home for one year. And on those orders…the word feared by mothers across the United States… deployed. His response when I tried to press for information, “I have three words for you where that’s concerned, Mom…hazardous duty pay!”
So for now we focus on the joy of homecoming, the closeness to home of his first duty station, and the fact that after the first of the year we have the freedom to visit anytime he has a couple of days off. And as always…we trust in God, the giver of life, the divine protector, the guardian of children and soldiers alike.
Yesterday afternoon when he called, laughing and telling animated stories of his training, talking excitedly about what is left in the syllabus; joking with his friends in the background…I realized the boy is indeed a man... and both he and his mother’s faith has definitely grown stronger in this place.
Psalms 139:13 “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Jeremiah 1:5 (a) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”
Matthew 10:28-31 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (29) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. (30) And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (31) So don’t be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows.” ~NIV