There are those couples who are familiar with deployments and can be vast sources of help in warning others of the dangers to the health of a marriage which can occur when we don’t take seriously the special challenges of living separately due to military orders. They have safely navigated the twists and turns, and know the unique conditions under which a couple needs to take particular caution. Do you know some of these couples? Look around. . . ask around. . .pray to meet this couple who has lived victoriously in spite of the hazards. They have much wisdom to share.
If you have had the chance to watch any of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, you have seen both the “thrill of victory” and the “agony of defeat.” I can only imagine what the athletes have thought and felt when extremely narrow margins have determined the outcomes of these competitions. The excitement of watching the performances of the individuals and the teams has included seeing how years of training has paid off in strong finishes or unexpected losses . . . It’s all been inspirational, and challenges me to put some of this in writing as I ponder what we can observe in the Olympics concerning the past, present, and future.
Growing up in Minnesota in the 1950s, February always meant two days off from school because of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and the celebration of George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. But sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s dates shifted—and what I had experienced as two “for-sure” days off became one “iffy” day off on a Monday—to celebrate “Presidents’ Day.” But there is an interesting aspect of these two presidents that our history books typically miss--the role of their wives and marriages in their leadership and presidencies.
When the same story keeps coming up, I pay attention. There must be something that God wants me to know or do—or share. So when my husband visited a chaplain’s office and saw a copy of the 1948 commemorative stamp of “The Four Chaplains”, signed by a survivor of the sinking of the U.S.A.T. Dorchester in 1943, I wasn’t surprised. The story of the four heroic chaplains was one my husband and I had recently studied and even included in a new Bible study. Perhaps you know about Reverend Clark Poling, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Father John Washington, and Reverend George Fox—but if not, let me share this amazing story.
Sometimes it’s a refreshing spiritual exercise for me to link several ways God has led His people to creatively convey His truth. I recently heard JJ Heller’s song “Your Hands”: “When my world is shaking, Heaven stands . . . When my heart is breaking I never leave Your hands.”
There is a story told about “two dogs” which battle within us. Some say it’s an Indian legend . . . some say it’s an old fable told long ago . . . but the story makes the rounds, and also makes a lot of sense. As the story goes, when a youngster comes to the old sage leader and asks why he feels so angry at unfair treatment, the older one explains, “It is as if there are two dogs inside of you. One is always good, peaceful, and loyal.
She was a lay leader in her unit—deployed for seven months. Before she left we spent time together talking about her hopes for spiritual growth in herself, and her unit, during this time away from home. So when she returned it was a joy to link up and hear about what she had observed and experienced from her time away—visiting foreign ports, leading the chapel praise team, praying and reading devotions for those who gathered for fellowship and study. But I caught some doubt and discouragement in her voice.
I am a husband fighting against the spiritual forces which might harm my family and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I will never surrender my marriage of my own free will. As the leader of the home I will never surrender the members of my family and will always be on guard for them to resist the evil one when he attacks—and be sure of this, he will attack. If I am emotionally captured I will continue to resist . . . .
“Communication is a lot like tennis. One person begins the conversation by making a statement, and then perhaps asking a question—like serving the ball. The other person returns the ball by responding to the statement and/or question, and perhaps asks another question. And so the game continues.” This is an important paragraph from the HomeBuilders Bible study entitled Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready (p. 39), meant to help couples in their communication skills before they are geographically separated. But the truth is that communication skills are vital to the life of a marriage relationship—deployment or not.
You know the movies where the operative receives the message that explains the job he’s asked to complete? Once the situation/circumstance is described, he hears “Your mission, should you choose to accept it”, followed by a summary of the mission. Then the method of conveying the message explodes and the operative is sent into action, working nonstop until the mission is complete. Kind of like a marriage, really.