A year into military life and it’s amazing how much my mindset has changed. Things that once seemed foreign and confusing, words or phrases that meant nothing, timelines and dates that had no relevance are all familiar parts of my life now. Two months shy of meeting Chris, I told a girl engaged to a deployed soldier, “I could never do that… I just don’t think I could ever…” Let the record stand, I have dropped, “I could never” from my vocabulary.
This lifestyle is ludicrous. Their life-cycle, work routine, work load, expectations on both the family and the soldier- it’s a night and day difference from the business world. The military affects the entire family and there is nothing predictable about it- one day at a time. The other side of the coin is the perspective, attitude and approach of the soldier and family member to their line of work- They make all the difference- but don’t all of our attitudes?
Three weeks into our second deployment together and there are a few things that people have begun to ask or share- I know it is meant well, trust me, I truly do and I love their heart, but I want to offer a different lens and a suggestion during a deployment and in my case, being 8 months pregnant as well…
“Don’t you just miss your husband? You just seem so fine?” Of course I miss my husband. If I had it my way he would never leave, but that’s not the reality nor a request I could ever make- one, because he took an oath to the Army and two because God has called him to this for a season. There is a difference between grieving his absence and missing our life together. I have to make the best of today and enjoy what I do get with him in this season- emails, texts, face time- those are all privileges and gifts. He didn’t leave me or pass away, he is just away from me for a time.
“You poor thing, I just feel so bad that you have to be alone.” Please don’t. There is no need for pity; I married military and took a vow to love, respect and support my husband- this just happens to be what that entails. There is joy even in the season that my soldier is away. Why? Because God has a plan- things to learn and do that will ultimately equip us for the next chapter. I have incredible community around me and a hope in the Lord that He goes before us- I don’t feel sorry for me and please, you shouldn’t either. Suggestion, ask the military spouse questions so you can better understand their life or where they are at. Best thing you can do is build a friendship.
“How are you? No, how are you really doing?” Most of the time a military spouse will probably tell you that they are fine and the reality is, you’ll most likely never know if that is the truth or not. There is a circle of people, just as I am sure in your life that you allow in to see the hurt, the questions or fear, but you can’t live in that- it will destroy you. Most of the time I am good- I make the best out of my days, the most of time with friends and treasure the moments I get to hear from my husband. Suggestion- Ask a specific question- what the weekend was like, how the kiddos or dog are, if they have plans for dinner. Their world looks different- They are building a new routine, adapting back to a “single type of living or parenting and supporting their soldiers new/ unpredictable schedule. It’s not ideal, but 9 months is a journey- one day at a time and you have to choose to celebrate the small victories, the countless small blessings along the way & seek the Lord- those things allow you to be good, no really, good.
Above all- the best thing you can do is pray for our soldiers and the families. Every marriage, every family, every person- they are all walking something different and I promise feeling the effects of the lifestyle. It’s not something you can fix-it often times just needs to be walked out. Prayer, opening your family/ home and building a friendship with these spouses/ their families is the best thing you can truly do.
To the millions of soldiers, spouses and families that have gone before me- thank you for your dedication, commitment and strength. You have set examples to follow, inspirations to lean on and perspectives to hold. America truly is the home of the free because of the brave.
To the families & friends that are directly in the lifestyle- I love your heart, your concern is appreciated and your prayers coveted. We can all continue learning- thank you for your prayers and support.