Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Right Words

There are times in life when you have to share something really big with someone you love. And often times, there's not a particularly right thing to say in response. Over the years, Joel's had to take on the difficult task of sharing with loved ones about his upcoming deployments. Sometimes there's just silence, sometimes a word of encouragement, and often times the question of why he has to go back.

Joel and I have both experienced responses that make us uncomfortable and even angry. Going overseas is a hard task, one that we've both signed up for in many ways. But it's even more difficult when you know people at home who should be standing next to you in it, criticizing it. When Joel got back from Iraq, someone who I have known for my entire life and have so much respect for, said that they didn't understand how Joel could leave his wife and child and go overseas for so long. They thought what he was doing was wrong. I was so surprised, so angry and so hurt that I just left in the middle of the conversation. I had no words.

There are those who decide that after just telling them about his upcoming or current deployment that it would be a great time to tell me, his wife, how wrong the war is and what a waste of lives of those who've been lost. Really? This is the best time to get into a political debate? My husband's in the middle of a war zone, and you're going to choose now to tell me how wrong the reason behind the fight is or why those who have given their life for it have died in vain? I call them heroes, not mistakes.

And then there's the inevitable "Will he have to go back?".... usually right after he gets back. Well, he's not retiring, so probably, yes. Do people think that a soldier who's deployed only has to tally up so many overseas deployments before the government is like, eh, you've had your share?! I know we're still fighting in two wars, but we'll just find someone else?! Come on.

The truth is, there isn't a perfect response. I guess the old rule of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" is still a good one. The best responses are a warm hug (or a firm handshake in Joel's case), a "we're praying for you" and "we stand behind you in this".

But the best response yet, was a card Joel got in the mail from one of our Sunday School kids. Here are a few lines:
"Dear Mr. ______,
Thank you. Thank you for going to protect our country and even to protect a people who are not your own. And thank you for inspiring the generation coming behind you, to stand for your country, to protect your loved ones, and to trust that God will be with you. Please be safe... You are in my prayers..."

I can guarantee you that card is going to the Middle East with him. And I'm sure it'll be those words that stick, and not all the negative ones he's heard along the way.


ekittner said...

We pray for all of you, we support all of you, we love all of you!

Emmy said...

Oh yes, it does not matter what your politics or beliefs are; the people that are willing to go fight and support our country should be supported and celebrated no matter what!


You write well Jill, don't stop writing what and how you feel. Your writing conveys well the feelings that a couple has while separated due to a deployment.

Oh and my favorite is when someone compares a long distance relationship (like Purdue and Ft Wayne) to the separation caused by a deployment. HA if they only knew!

Jill said...

CSPURGEON - Thanks so much! HA! You're so right. I know people are trying to empathize... but it's SO not the same.

Jill said...

ekittner - We sure appreciate all you do for us!

Amy said...

Hey! I just bloghopped over here! My hubby just recently joined the Army NG and he's leaving soon for his Basic and AIT training. We'll miss him, but it's comforting to know he's not in a war for the time being. He struggled with feeling selfish for enlisting because he knew he'd have to spend time away, but I promised him it was a very self-less thing to do.

It is so aggravating to know that people are so insensitive, and sometimes downright rude about your husband. You guys have so much support from people who you may not even know and I hope that those people will be the ones who's voices you hear during hard times!

Jill said...

Amy - Welcome to military life! I hope that you both adjust well during this time. In my experience, the times of separation make a marriage stronger and I hope that's your experience, too.

Joel & I try hard to keep positive with criticism. But the important thing is that WE know that what he is doing is the right thing and we don't expect others to understand that.

Please let me know how things go for you and your husband!