Wednesday, June 01, 2011

War! Huh...What is it Good For? Absolutely Nothing?

"In The Beginning"       by Crystal Neubauer

Today my step-son is heading home for a well deserved 2 week leave from fighting in the war in Afghanistan. The longer he has been away, the more difficult it is to talk about him without tears springing to my eyes. I am so excited to be able to put my physical arms around him and see that he is okay and show how much I care for and have missed him!

And as much as my heart is bursting with desire to spend every single moment he is home with him, I know how torn this young man will be, between spending time here with me and his dad and his dad's side of the family, and spending time elsewhere with his mom, step-dad and their side of his family. And of course there are the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, not to mention the siblings and friends who have prayed for him, missed him, and can't wait to spend time with him.

So as I think of him heading home on a plane at this very moment, I simply feel grateful and excited for him. Grateful that he will be able to spend the next two weeks being surrounded by his family and friends and their love. Grateful for every second of time he is out of harms way and for every night we can put our heads on our pillows knowing he is not hunkered down in a hole somewhere being shot at with a gun in his hand.
"To Serve and Protect"           by Crystal Neubauer

And as I think of how much he has matured since he enlisted, even more so since he left to fight the war, I am in awe. While speaking to my husband on the phone this morning of the celebration that was given to the soldiers upon arrival at their first stop here in the US today, he expressed his own gratitude for how he already feels like he is home. He is already seeing with new eyes and a new appreciation all that we tend to take for granted around us.

He will be forever changed from this experience. No doubt there will be emotional wars he will need to fight, even years from now, as his body and mind continue to process and deal with the stress he is under daily during his time of service, but this time away at war is also shaping him into an incredible man, with a perspective on life that many men well beyond his years have yet to gain.

"Almost Home"        by Crystal Neubauer

This evening, after working her second day on a new rotation for her Podiatry internship, my daughter will be moving into a new apartment in the city with five roommates. She has been excited for the transition, looking forward to being able to share an apartment with these friends and no longer having the long commute from the suburbs, but today she is feeling the stress of all that she has on her plate between work and moving and life.

There are a few conflicts arising, as would be expected, from six adults trying to coordinate moving into a four bedroom apartment, and she has found herself in the unfamiliar position of having to speak directly and negotiate with so many personalities in a way that is truthful but doesn't harm. She feels a little anxious about it, worrying about hurting feelings but not wanting to stuff her own. And I see how this is a type of war as well - on an inner level. But that through it new communication and life skills are being learned.

 "Follow Me"         by Crystal Neubauer

It is hard to learn to speak up, speak directly, truthfully, and clearly about our needs sometimes. Depending on our pasts so many of us, especially women, have learned to just acquiesce and defer to the needs of others, putting ourselves last and denying our own needs, but then resenting that our needs aren't being tended to.

Would my daughter be learning these skills of self-care so young if she wasn't forced to deal with the natural conflicts arising from moving in with so many roommates? She feels uncomfortable today, as we tend to do, after asserting herself in a healthy way when she isn't used to it, but her emotional muscles are developing and so is her sense of well-being and self-worth. I'm proud of her for being open to hearing my advice and resisting the urge to blast out of her frustration or deny and stuff her feelings.

I couldn't help but reflect on these two very different "wars" my grown children are in today and see the value in it for each of them. And it led me to think of my own battles of late, those that are, for the most part, unseen. I woke today in the midst of an ongoing personal struggle with the deepest sense of gratitude for what the battle is teaching me and how much it is helping me to grow. If it weren't for this "war" I am fighting, I would not be learning to find my own voice, to set limits and hold healthy boundaries, let alone to recognize that the source of my fulfillment and love does not come from a place or person outside of me, but from Gods love planted inside of me, from the love he wants me to have for him and for myself, from which I am then able to truly love and be loved.

There are wars in life we are all required to face. Perhaps a financial battle is required to get you to look at how you handle money. An illness may increase your faith or change your perspective on equating your self-worth to your level of productivity. Overcoming addictions or bad habits and attitudes may force you to face and root out issues from your past, but bring you the long lasting peace you never believed could be yours. What of the battle of accepting one's aging appearance in the mirror? Or learning a new job skill when you thought you'd be retiring at the company you once worked? Accepting the illness or death of a loved one? At times these battles may seem overwhelming, purposeless and certainly unfair. But is it true that war is good for absolutely nothing? No, it is not without it's purpose, and I can honestly say, I am grateful for the wars I am facing today.


  1. I am grateful that your step-son is coming home, & will be surrounded by love & family, and grateful that your daughter is beginning some of the adult skills of negotiation with respect.
    But I am so, so grateful for that last paragraph, Crystal. It was just what my heart needed to hear today.
    Thank you for letting the words flow...
    Sending love to you & your family.

  2. Well said and many thanks Crystal. Enjoy precious time with your step-son.

  3. oh, the wars. a needful reminder that everything serves a purpose, and that God can use it for good--even the awful stuff. hugs.

  4. Anonymous7:53 AM

    My entire family appreciates your son's service and we wish him well. A big thank you to him.

    Your post was very moving and thought provoking. Well wishes to all.

  5. Beautifully written Crystal. Wonderful words of life, wisdom, and love.

  6. Crystal what a wonderful flow of emotional beauty with this piece... the connections is there and speaks loudly.

  7. oh Crystal! These new pieces are wonderful and simple and speak such deep truths. I am always so intrigued with your work and the stories you tell. I am never disappointed when I visit your blog! I hope you enjoy the time with your family.

  8. Anonymous3:26 PM

    Great insight, once again.
    There really is something about human nature, and our need for wars and trials to make us better human beings.

  9. Hi Crystal!
    I just discovered your blog, through The Pulse from Seth Apter.

    I love your collages and the way it reflect your emotions. Thanks for the inspiration.


  10. Anonymous3:13 PM

    Just stopped by to comment on your piece in Seth's's wonderful! Then I lingered a bit to look at your other works...very nice indeed!!