Are you a cutter? A bully? A straight ‘A’ student? A sex addict? A fighter? A runner? A ‘screamo’ listener? A druggie? A crier? A gamer? A chain smoker? All of these ways are fairly common for military teens to use as quick-fixes in coping with feeling out of control. Is this how you survive when you’re told to ‘just deal?’ Your life isn’t easy, but quick-fixes are only that. Perhaps God offers us some long-term fixes that will last. Interested? Read on.
I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world when Maria moved in across the street. We became best friends almost immediately. She was the sister I never had. We were both sophomores, we liked similar music (serious GAGA girls!), could wear each other’s clothes (which we did a lot), and loved doing our makeup over and over again! We were together all the time, but on that rare occasion we weren’t, we texted about 50 times a day. Once we texted 338 times in one day! Her dad was in Iraq and my dad was in Afghanistan; both in the Army deployed from Ft. Campbell where we lived.
One day we came home on the school bus, and when we got off, we noticed an official-looking car in front of her house. I had this sinking feeling in my heart and I felt like I was going to throw up. We both knew what this could mean. Maria immediately teared up, which made me starting crying out loud. I grabbed her hand and we walked quickly to her front door. Of all the times we spent together, we only talked about the possibility of losing our dads once, and that was just too scary to ever bring up again. We weren’t stupid; like all military brats we knew it could happen, but the thoughts were just too horrible to dwell on.
Maria’s dad had been killed by a d**m roadside bomb! I felt angry and sad and helpless and scared all at the same time while I tried to be supportive of Maria. The next two weeks were a blur. Before we could hardly deal with any of this and say goodbye, Maria’s family had been packed up and moved to San Antonio where they were from. This is when I truly understood what ‘dependent’ meant. Maria was powerless to change anything. It was all happening to her. She had no control to stop the move or get her dad back or anything! It was the worst day of my life when my best friend pulled out of her driveway!!!!!!
That Sunday I pleaded with God at Mass. I could not understand why. I felt so bad for Maria, but I was also petrified that it could happen to me and my family. I felt very vulnerable and exposed, like being naked in front of a thousand staring people. I realized I had absolutely no control. I begged God to protect me. I wanted him to hold me. I believed he was ultimately in control of everything, but I needed some assurance at the human level. When I got home, I came across a song by Natalie Grant called “Held” that had sad but reassuring words. It seemed to really fit where Maria and I were. I sent it to her. The words are below and you can hear the song on the music playlist to the right:
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To Think That Providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
Were asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held
This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow
If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior
This story from the Bible is found in the book of Daniel. It takes place in Babylon where the people of Israel had been brought from Jerusalem into captivity. Daniel and three of his friends had risen to prominent positions with the king because of their skills. You’ll see in this account that the three friends seemingly had no control over their fate (with the exception of bowing to a false god). The king would do with them what the king would do. They could not stop him. However, when you look closer, you’ll see that while they had no control over their external, bodily situation, they had complete control over their faith and their internal values and beliefs. In fact, by holding solidly to these and trusting God with the outcome, they watched God display his control. Ultimately it led to the king and others worshiping God. The three friends’ attitudes and actions can give us a strategy to use when facing times when we feel like we have no control.
As I pray your Scripture back to you, make these things realities in my life:
“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”
When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; you alone, O Lord, keep me perfectly safe.
This map will show you the Babylonian empire as well as the city where Daniel 3 took place. It even has the plain of Dura where it says, “King Nebuchadnezzar had a gold statue made, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and he had it set up in the plain of Dura.”
Although the word ‘control’ is used in Scripture many times, the concept behind ultimate control is found in the much-used word, “sovereign.” The Lord God is referred to as sovereign because he is ruler of all, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Ephesians 1:21, 22 states, “Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things.”
(ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French soverain, based on Latin super ‘above.’ The change in the ending was due to association with reign).
Here’s a prayer that is a paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5-8. Try praying this several times this week.
God, I trust you from the bottom of my heart;
I won't try to figure out everything on my own.
Help me listen for your voice in everything I do, everywhere I go;
You’re the one who will keep me on track.
I don't assume that I know it all.
I will run to you, O God! And run from evil!
Then my body will glow with health,
my very bones will vibrate with life!
1 Peter 5:5-7
Psalm 46 (God Is with Us)
Watch this performance of “No Control” by Bad Religion. Does this song provide any hope for you? If so, why? If not, why not?
This video is from the movie called “The Hiding Place.” The Ten Boom family in Holland during WWII was hiding Jews in their house from the German authorities. This scene shows them being raided and carried off against their will. While they had no control over the external circumstances and could not fight the Germans, their spirits were set free knowing they were in God’s hands. This is a true story.
The fact is that most deployed parents return home safely from the current war zones. While fear of death is a very strong emotion for anyone, it can be especially strong with Military teens.
No one can assure you with absolute certainty that your military parent will remain safe during their deployment, but the statistics are HIGHLY in your favor. Relax some.
Consider how you might take personal control to support and engage your deployed parent with notes, emails, photos and other things that say “I Love You!!”
Here’s an early Disney cartoon with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck called “Moving Day”