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“Dear Commander’s Wife . . .”

“Dear Commander’s Wife . . .”

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:7-10).

Stashed away in my “archives” was a letter printed in our overseas base magazine, dated April, 1988. I do not know who wrote it, but I saved it because it expressed heartfelt appreciation from one beginning a military career to one nearing the end in a way that was particularly relevant in our military culture.

Dear Commander’s Wife,

As you leave for a new assignment I want to thank you for all your kindness while you were here at our base.

Somehow you seemed to know how nervous it made me to be around the commander’s wife, and you always said just the right thing to put me at ease. You even sought me out, shy and alone, and now I feel comfortable talking to you at parties. I even realize you can feel lonely, too.

I like the way you treat everyone the same with a gracious smile and word to all. Thanks for asking us to call you Mary (or Sue or …) and for not wearing your husband’s rank, or any rank at all. We’re all proud of our husbands, but we can’t really rest on their achievements (even if we did help a lot!). We’re all just people, we need each other; and you showed me that I’ll be accepted and liked, or not, for my own actions.

Many of us need for you to go more than fifty percent of the way (and sometimes more than one hundred percent) and maybe that isn’t fair, but it’s true. I’m so glad you remember what it’s like to be a bride, or new to the military. This is an overwhelming organization and it can be intimidating and frustrating. But it does seem like a wonderful, patriotic life, and I’m proud and happy to be a part of it.

I know you didn’t seek the position that, to paraphrase Shakespeare, has been “thrust upon you.” But you’ve treated it as a privilege and a duty and have risen to the occasion. Even if you don’t expect it, we look to you for guidance. Thanks for sharing your experience, common sense, and good judgment. . . . Remind me to never be pretentious or power hungry, and, please, don’t let me gossip. Gossip is poison!

As I watched you on base, it seemed that if there was any good you could do for anyone, you tried to do it—the Golden Rule in action. I hope those contributions give you the satisfaction you deserve. You always encouraged us to work or teach or participate in base activities freely according to our own goals. I know I don’t need to tell you that many active career wives find time to support their husbands, and their units, because it is important to them and they enjoy it. And by the way, I appreciate your showing me how to help our friend when her husband was passed over. You put it in perspective and as you said, all careers have low spots and high spots.

We young wives need training and encouragement and opportunity as we learn from you. Please remind the other commanders’ wives. Do you remember learning to manage a home, husband, and baby? I know you do. For me, right now, it’s a lot. I feel guilty if I go out and frustrated if I stay home. I’m seeking balance in my life. You help me by encouraging me to participate and get out occasionally—but don’t ever let me neglect my husband or children. I know you wouldn’t.

So, for so many things, some that have even helped us both I hope, I say thank you. You’re really a special lady, one I’d like to be like someday.


A Lieutenant’s Wife

The Scriptures that came to my mind from this letter are those that speak to servant leadership, pure living, generational mentoring, and humility at all levels:

“ . . . whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26).

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12).

“A kindhearted woman gains respect . . . “ (Proverbs 11:16a).

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3,4).

This letter to an unknown commander’s wife was written during the days of the cold war. If it was true then, it is even more so now in these seemingly endless days of the global war on terror. The drumbeat of today’s operations tempo, sometimes with surprise deployments interrupting what was a “normal” hum of family life makes for a stressful and uncertain military career. But the opportunity is there to live the life as credited to this leader’s wife—in integrity and the modeling of a good attitude and positive perseverance.

And let us never forget—people are watching. Let them see the fruit of the Holy Spirit as demonstrated in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which will bring the fragrance of life in Christ into any setting.

Questions to Share:

  1. Is there a commander or commander’s wife who has inspired you to godly living? Share one story of that leader with your spouse.
  2. What attributes do you want others to see in you which can be admired, respected, and modeled?

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