Today I sent my eldest daughter off to Israel for an 18-month service in the Israeli army. I swear that my heart stopped and lungs collapsed for a short time with my final goodbye. It was very hard—but what should I have expected?
Shayna will be what is called in Hebrew a chayal bodedet, a “lone soldier.” This is a category for Jewish kids that serve their time in Israel without family present. We’ve been comforted greatly by the overwhelming support we’ve received from the Messianic community and our long-time friends in the land. Shayna is loosing us for a time, yet she is gaining many new parents that will watch her, care for her, and be a blessing to us all.
Shayna lived in Israel as a little girl. For much of her youngest years, her Hebrew was stronger than her English. Shayna set through countless meetings where she heard me speak of Messianic ideals, the centrality of Israel, and our role as disciples to do something important with our lives.
I should have expected that one day she would live-out everything she learned and, in turn, believed in.
As parents we’ve pounded into our children ideals and now that they are now becoming adults, they are making choices to live them out. So Shayna will be away from us for a time and we are not sure where this choice will take her in life. That is scary. It would have been easier if my children had never grown up—but they have, and they still are. I am proud of and honored by Shayna. God be with her, because for a time I am not.
As my children grow up, I am seeing how important it is to impart a deeply shared vision as best we can, and more than that, to be consistent in raising them in those ideals. I now have two adult children. A son who today is celebrating his first year in marriage to a wonderful woman—he is dedicated in his studies and aspires to teach. And my Shayna Maydel, a strong and beautiful woman who will soon be walking the streets of Jerusalem with a M16 strapped to her back.