There is an army acronym that chaplain’s aren’t ever suppose to say, so I will just allude to it. It means messed up beyond all repair. If you have been around army folk for more than about a day, I am sure you have heard it. On the phone a couple of days ago my wife said to me, "You aren’t coming home that way are you?"
I laughed at her and asked her if she had been watching too much news again. We get the news here. I know the general population is hearing in a variety of ways that soldiers are coming home from Iraq screwed up, messed up and generally changed in a negative way. I know the vast majority of people evaluate hardship by the standard of depreciation. I got it. What did it cost me? How have I changed? What are the negative impacts on my life? What Line of Duty injuries did I suffer? This being the primary metaphor for thinking about loss leads us to only one conclusion….that of diminishing returns.
If you are in a military family, waiting at home for your soldier, or a soldier about to return home, let me give you some advice. Turn your bullcrap meter on and leave it on for a while. There are a lot of "voices of diminishing return." Do yourself a favor and challenge their logic, their opinion, their historical perspective and their knowledge about you. The outcome of this deployment is not predetermined in your life. Judge for your self what it’s impact is one you, you are the only subject matter expert on YOU!
Think about your life, the life of your parents, the life of your grandparents and our nation. When we have gone through tough times in the past was the effect always negative? Has the "law of diminishing returns" been a historical fact in your life, or in the life of our nation? No, it has not. Rather, with adversity comes strength. Trouble yields the path to triumph and heartache gives way to hallelujahs. This has been true since time begin. It is true today. And it will be true tomorrow.
So dearest wife, "No, I am not coming home messed up beyond all repair, neither are the people I serve with. I am coming home the same way I left. I am coming home ready to transform into what ever life demand of me. I am coming home to serve you, my family, my nation, my God. But, most importantly I am coming home to continue mission." And mission is this, "Love the Lord your God with all your might, and your neighbor as your self." Rather than the "law of diminishing returns" try this one on for size. It is the "law of love."