A friend of mine recently asked me how I handle being a military spouse during so much domestic and seemingly unending international unrest. Her brother had just joined the Marines, while her father had surprisingly been deployed even though he had been in the Navy Reserves for decades. She, and many others, did not have the option to make the gradual move into the military as I did (spouses and family members: you are as much in the military as your loved one is!). If you were (knowingly or unknowingly) thrown into a similar situation, I urge you to seek peace for your heart in this era of earthly unrest. That is certainly easier said than done, so I have put together a few tips.
1. Make the choice to be blissfully ignorant on gruesome, in-depth stories. This in no way means that I am unaware of national and international happenings, but the modern media has the uncanny way of bringing out the gore and disgust in every single situation. I like to keep updated on the gist of what is going on, and will certainly be doing some mindful research once we find out where my husband is going to be deployed. Granted, the majority of stories on the news are not pleasant, but out of your heart flows your life song (Prov. 4:23), so we are cautioned to be mindful of what we feed it. This is one (of many) reasons my husband and I do not have cable television. For us, it is a practical way to filter what we choose to view and listen too.
2. Connect with the community. The entity that is the armed forces is a labyrinth you cannot go in to alone! Solomon writes, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:12), and that is certainly true when you are arriving at a base for the first (or 100th) time or are going through your loved one’s life insurance when he or she is away. The Lord instructs us to be equally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14), and I have found that imperative for establishing friendships. Two things that are not usually talked about are how high the domestic violence and divorce rates are in the military, and, sadly, I have seen both firsthand over the past few months. I have found that the vast majority of strong Christians do not fall in to either category. They can not only become wonderful resources when paperwork is unclear but can also be there during difficult and lonely times.
3. Do not mourn your life. The attacks on Paris a few months back made every negative comment about my pregnancy appear to be true: “You’re foolish for wanting a big family in this world”, “Will your kids even know your husband while he pursues his Army career?”, “You’ll barely have the baby before he’s probably deployed”. That night, for the first (and only) time, I mourned my pregnancy and cried for my little baby, still safely tucked under my heart. But the next Sunday at church, our pastor quoted something one of the ISIS terrorists said: “We will defeat the West by our faith and by having more children.” That statement put things in perspective for me. I felt that, obviously, those who do evil in this world don’t put their lives on hold for me, so how dare I put mine on hold for them? As a nation, I don’t think we’re much different than the Israelites of the Old Testament. The feeling of dissatisfaction dwarfed the people of Israel on their journey from Egypt to Canaan. When they didn’t see immediate results, they shunned God and turned to bitterness and resentment. But this is not what God desires. So instead of living in fear-turned-bitterness, I live with honor because my husband is doing something worthy, and that makes me proud.
The biggest way I live out honor for my husband and my country is continually submitting my spirit to the Lord. There are many times when things are out of his control or are thrown at us last minute (hello, surprise move to Texas!). It definitely does not help for me to stress myself or my husband out over a decision way above his command-level, and thankfully, we have a loving Heavenly Father who takes up the burden of our anxieties. Easier said than done, I know, but practice makes progress!
When I am asked how I sleep at night, especially when Liam is away, I turn people to Psalm 131. It’s short, so I memorized the whole thing. When the going gets rough, I center myself in prayer and cling to the Lord, and, “like a weaned child, I am content” (Ps. 131:2). It is rarely easy; I especially applaud those spouses, siblings, and parents who may have not chosen this for their loved one but are submitting to the Lord’s will anyway. Keep the faith, it will pay off.
May the Lord bless and keep you and our troops,
PC: @mrskmarino via #belovedlife