by John Griffin
They say the greatest sacrifice is to give your life for that of another.
Hard to top for sure. Our men and women of the Armed Forces take the cake when it comes to paying the ultimate sacrifice for each of us. We don’t really talk about it enough, in my opinion, but we do at least talk about it. What we don’t talk about is the enormous sacrifice the families of these soldiers, airmen, and marines make. The husbands and wives who stay behind to run the business of family on their own is a tremendous load and burden. There are children who suddenly don’t have a mother or father for extended periods of times. There are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts that experience a constant state of worry while their loved one is deployed. They do all of this because they love. They were not the ones to volunteer. They did not necessarily sign up for this. They do, however, support the decisions of their loved one as best they can because that’s just what you do.
As we celebrate Independence Day this year I certainly want you to stop and remember all of those serving our country past and present. I’d also like you to think about those individuals that serve our country by holding a family together in the absence of a warrior off to work. Some of you know a soldier. You miss them and think about them from time to time. It really hits home when there’s an update on the news about some skirmish overseas. With time, we eventually get back to our normal day in and day out of American freedom. This is perfectly ok. It is. This is what a soldier expects you to do. For some people, though, there is no normal to get back to. They live with the “deployment” 24/7. Sure, they put on a good face and act like they’ve got it together because they’re tough as nails. They have to be. But, it is hard. Excruciating, sometimes.
As a nation, we should be better about considering the daily battles the families of our military go through. As a community, I think we can do better than “should”. So, what to do? Good question. Not knowing the answer to that question is a major reason why more people don’t do something a little more often to help out these families. Here’s a short list of some things you can do that can literally change someone’s world this year.
Don’t ask, “How are you doing?”
Just make an effort to say “Hi” and a hug is always pretty great, too. Her loved one is gone, how do you think she’s doing? Better yet, tell them you’re praying for their family and then actually go pray.
Yes, they can manage on their own, but pitching in from time to time frees up an already busy schedule to knock something else out on the to do list. Again, careful not to ask if there’s “anything you can do,” but just call ahead and say I’m coming over to mow – be there in 30.
This is a big one. The best I’ve heard is telling them that you’re free all week and would like to hang with little Johnny. When can I get him? This actually works double-duty. Mom/dad gets a break and Johnny gets to do something fun and different. If it’s dad that’s deployed, do some stuff with Johnny that his dad might have done with him.
Invite Them Over
Sometimes a little interaction can take their minds off of the everyday stresses in their world. Don’t be weird. Just hang out. Game night of Taco Tuesday is always a good excuse. Remember, when you’re spending quality family time on the weekends is probably the hardest on her because she’d like to be doing the same thing.
REALLY Invite Them Over on Holidays
I don’t think this one needs explaining. However, remembering birthdays and anniversaries makes you extra awesome here.
Bring a Meal
You can do this randomly or set a day of the week that is your day to cook for them. Don’t cook? Buy. It’s such a little investment that will go a long way.
You’re at the market anyways. Call and see if there’s anything she needs why you’re there. She can pay you back later and would gladly do so to save the trip.
Invite the family to go with you. If they already attend somewhere else, think about going with them. Make sure they have a support group of believers that are praying and available to help in times of need.
This is really the biggest one. They go through frustrations that we don’t know about. Be careful not make generic statements that have no intention behind them. Be a real shoulder to cry on or sounding board to talk to. Let them unload some of that burden or share the joys of the latest piece of good news. This only works if you care. If you genuinely do then this is the best gift you can give and costs nothing.
This is a list that could go on and on but the above are some pretty good staples to start with. I was a soldier and never really deployed for any long or extended period. The thing is, gone is gone, to family. Whether it’s 2 months or 2 years, it’s scary. It gets really lonely. No one naturally wants to burden others with their business, so most of us probably would never know of the struggles that exist. Even the strongest of the strong will benefit from any one of the above offerings. So, yes, please remember our military this 4th of July. But also, please, please don’t forget about their families who stayed behind and are making that great sacrifice right along with their soldier. It means the world to them to know someone else is aware of what they’re going through. You’ve got the time, I promise. You’ll be glad you did and you just may learn something along the journey. Consider it your own little sacrifice – your way to do your part to pay for this wonderful nation we call America. Happy 4th, everyone!