October 31st marks the beginning of the holiday season. For many, the holidays will be very difficult to "get through." For the spouses who have lost their loved ones in military service and for those being deployed to fight in wars raging around the world, Halloween marks the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas with a time of sadness.
My team and I work with many veterans, their partners, and their children. I think most people who have lost a loved or even had those deployed, dread this time of the year because it only emphasizes the loss that much more. Suicide rates increase during this time of year and we at Encouragers are on high alert for signs of grief, loss, sadness, and isolation. We have not lost one veteran in our care to suicide since we opened in 2014, and we fight against the day we will loose our first.
The Encouragers difference is love.
Sometimes it's easy to forget the ones who have been sent home but whose minds are held captive by the horrific memories that war brings. At Encouragers we work hard to help release some of the pain of those memories and pray for those who struggle to find a reason to stay alive.
The worst part, I think, is the rejection and hatred Americans and those living in America speak toward our service men and women. They are the saviors of the world, they serve with everything they have, even with their lives, and the thanks they receive is pitiful to say the least. We should be celebrating our military, lifting up their praises, but we don't. Most service people don't like the phrase, "Thank you for your service" because they feel it has become something people say, more of a habit. People don't understand and won't take the time to understand the heart of a servant. At Encouragers we take the time to listen to them. Often, we are told we are the only ones in their lives they can talk to. They tell us they don't want recognition and hollow platitudes, but they would like to feel appreciated. They would like to see you smile at them instead of spit on them. They would like a hug more than a slap (physical or emotional). They would love for others to not forget the act of service they performed. They want love and not hate. Is that too much to give for those who protect you and keep you safe?
The next time you see a service person in a restaurant, buy them lunch. The next time you see someone in uniform at the checkout stand, shake their hand and tell them to stay safe. The next time you see dog tags hanging around the neck of a stranger, take the time to get to know them. You may be saving the life of someone who feels no one cares.
“I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
If you'd like to learn how to live intentional, check out my book of the same name: Live Intention. Live the life you always wanted, but never believed you could. Available at Barns and Noble, Amazon, and iTunes https://www.christianfaithpublishing.com/books/?book=live-intentional