A few years ago, one of our staff had the chance to talk to an active military dad during an airport layover.
Jim, an officer in the Air Force, had been away from his wife and kids for four months, and he had missed Christmas with them for the second time. It was tearing him up that he couldn’t be with his family.
Jim was an impressive guy. He was clearly intelligent, purposeful and faithful as a dad, and he was so respectful and humble as he talked.
Jim’s son, a teenager at the time, was six-foot-three and was talking about quitting basketball because it wasn’t going well for him. Jim talked about trying to encourage and be involved with his son through that challenge even from long distance. He told him, “Son, if you quit, what are you going to do to fill those hours?” He also challenged him to take on a few more adult responsibilities, like helping with some of the driving duties when his siblings needed to get to various activities.
That’s a small slice of real life for military dads and families.
That’s what they go through. They miss so much, and they try to deal with those real, everyday issues from halfway around the world.
Jim should help us appreciate what our military men and women are going through—and you can probably sympathize especially with the dads. We should all be reminded what an awesome privilege we have in being fathers and getting to spend time with our children, even if some of us don’t get to see them as much as we’d like.
Jim left the embrace of his family to help protect people he will never meet. As much as we might complain about things in our nation, there are people like Jim who are sacrificing for our rights and freedoms.
As the saying goes, “Freedom isn’t really free.”
There’s a price that some have paid with their very lives, and others continue to pay a price in the time and opportunities they are missing with their spouses and children.
That sacrifice and dedication should speak volumes to us as fathers, and as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, let this be a reminder to show appreciation for those who serve our country.
What similar experiences have helped you appreciate the privileges and freedoms you have? Share your insights on this and other fathering topics at our Facebook page.
Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
- Say “Thanks” to someone you know like Jim, who is sacrificing to serve his country.
- Get your kids involved in doing something nice for someone in the military. Send a care package. Do yard work or some other household tasks for the family who’s missing their loved one.
- Start a new 4th of July tradition that’s all about helping or serving someone. Have your kids help with the ideas.
- What does freedom mean to you? What images or stories come to mind? Share those with your kids.