Pole Barns, Softball and the Marines

I’m very grateful that nearly everyone speaks with one voice to my son about joining the Marines. Almost everyone has said, “Don’t do it!” There are a few who think he should join, most of them are recruiters.

But it’s been fascinating the watch people with many good intentions totally miss the mark in their desire to help. He’s been told, instead of joining the Marines, to work at summer camp…to help build a pole barn…to join a softball league… to not go into debt to the government, except in the case of student loans…to join the Air Force instead so he can sit in front a computer screen….

As nice as these things are, they don’t understand my son. He’s looking for down the road towards a life-time decisions. He is certainly able to build a pole barn or play softball, but those aren’t life-answering decisions. They are very short term. It’s like telling someone to go take a cold shower until the feeling goes away.

My son is looking for long-term direction and in an area that looks intriguing to him. Now, I’ll admit, he’s not in much of a listening mode right now. He’s nearly made up his mind and he’s not hearing things. But telling him to make a short term decisions based on things others are interested in, when he is looking for long-term stability based on things that he finds cool and exciting, doesn’t make sense.

For example, we watched a DVD seeking to encourage kids to not join the military if they are Christians and Sabbath-keepers. It’s just too hard. I watched it, thought it was well done and was relatively convincing. My son watched it twice and wasn’t convinced. As I pondered it, I realized that the DVD was answering the questions of a 25-35 year old. How do you answer the questions of a young, intelligent, “invincible” and strong young man who has no frontal lobe yet? I’m not sure you can. He’s thinking of excitement, fun, adventure and stability.

It’s like the bumper sticker I saw years ago – when I was 18-19. It said, “Join the Marines! Visit exotic lands, meet exciting people…and kill them.” I was young and thought it was funny. My son is young and thinks it’s funny now too… But I’m not as young anymore don’t think it’s quite so funny anymore. No wonder they get kids to join the military, because once someone becomes 25+ they get a little smarter about life and realize they aren’t invincible anymore.

So, although I think people are seeking to do good by giving my son all kinds of options, I think they are missing some things. I’m not sure they could hit the nail on the head anyway. I’m not sure my son will let them even if they came close.

It’s creating a lot of really good conversation around here right now. And it’s creating a lot of really good bonding too. There’s been a lot of openness about the good and bad points from all of us. I’m praying he doesn’t join. He’s not totally convinced he should yet, but he’s leaning that direction. I’m not going to stop trying to influence him away from it, but he’s almost 19 and can do it if he wishes. I cannot take that freedom away from him. God doesn’t take it away from me. I wouldn’t do that to my son.

I find the process he’s going through to be a pretty healthy one. I find he’s asking the questions, seeking to find alternatives (although he’s not hearing any that he finds appealing) and he’s praying about it. All those are healthy in regards to making decisions.

I’m just waiting for the day he takes the “Semper Fi” sticker off his computer…. I just pray that through it all, he will remain “Always Faithful” to the Lord in the process.

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