One of the scariest things about returning home after a lengthy time away is the thought that since your family survived without you, why and how will they need you when you come back? There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First of all, whether they just barely survived by eating fast food and turning yesterday’s shirts inside out to wear another day or actually thrived while you were gone, you need to know that you were missed. No matter how they got by without you, there is nobody in the world who can love the way you love your family. Step one is to let them know that you and your love are back for them.
Secondly, since your family is still alive, your role may have changed and time needs to be taken to find out where you now will fit in. This can be a freeing experience when you come to realize that before you left, the most important thing that you may have done was cook and clean. Since you weren’t there to do that, it was still done, which means that they can do those things (not as well as you, of course), but that may free up your time to spend helping with homework or playing games with them.
The best way to find out how you will be needed now that you are back home may be to quietly watch how your family interacts and look for opportunities to enhance that interaction, without interfering or trying to change how they interact. Pray for the insight and opportunity to see and fill those areas of need that aren’t being filled. Ask how you can help; share your ideas that you have learned while abroad. Make yourself available and be open to whatever role you will now fill. The greatest commodity that you can give to your family, no matter how long you were away – is you!
Al Detres is a father of four and a Christian Minister inOregonwho has a son currently serving in the US Army .