My Marine was out on a mission. Of course I never really knew the “when” or “where” or really even “how long.” But it is toward the end of a six month deployment cycle, so know I how long these missions should last and I knew that he was overdue to get back.
So here are my choices:
1. Get fearful and worried and imagine a worse case scenario, or…
2. Refocus my attention, take my negative thoughts captive, and continue to pray for my son.
It’s hard to compartmentalize all of the “what ifs” as well as the “and buts” of no news when you should be hearing something. But that’s what we have to do until we hear from them.
Every day one of my military men is deployed, I have a knock at my door. When I answer it, there stands Fear and Worry asking to come in and have a cup of tea. Their tea is bitter and tasteless. They overstay their welcome and get me to imagine a funeral scenario by them time they are done with me. They are VERY bad houseguests and they are VERY bad friends.
So I’ve learned to slam the door when they come calling and instead I purposefully do something productive until there’s another knock at the door.
This time, there stands Hope and Faith. I invite them in and they bring in coffee and chocolate and other comfort foods. They are very good guests. They are even better friends.
Here are some practical things to do when you are tempted to walk with Fear and Worry:
• Go for a walk, run or do a yoga video workout.
• Pet a dog – there’s a reason there are therapy animals in combat zone hospitals and in stateside recovery units. There are even puppies on college campuses during finals. Petting a dog will make your blood pressure stabilize and your stress go down.
• Send someone else whose military member is also deployed an encouraging text with a picture that will make her laugh. My daughter’s boyfriend recently googled “apologetic hamster” and got bonus points when he sent it to her.
• Gather some groceries that have been on your shelve for ages (check expiration dates) and take them to a homeless shelter or food pantry. You’ll clean out the cabinet and help someone else at the same time.
• Set the timer for 15 minutes and clean out a junk drawer, a messy kitchen cabinet or the kids clothes. You will declutter and de-stress and feel so much better.
• Watch Zoolander, Galaxy Quest, Mystery Men or Back to the Future.
When I finally heard from my Marine, some of my concerns were confirmed: three of his men had been injured in a helicopter incident. But he was fine. I knew that he was fine because I would have gotten a phone call if he wasn’t. But I also knew my Marine loves his men as much as he loves his family because they are his family. I knew that if anything happened to them, then he would have wished it had happened to him instead.
But as the medical reports came out the next few days, we were to discover that there had been a miracle in the field that day. The incident “should have” probably claimed some lives and instead of major injuries, there were only a couple of broken bones and everything would heal amongst the platoon.
No news may be good news, but the worse case scenario you imagine in your mind is probably more destructive than anything that actually happened.
So walk with Hope and Faith and eat their chocolate, drink their coffee and feel the peace that passes understanding as you wait.