When I see it—in actions, words, or formal presentation, it’s always a favorite combination . . . power with tenderness . . . When I first read Eric Blehm’s book on the life of Navy SEAL Adam Brown, "Fearless", I was struck by this description: “Known for his compassion, Adam was always the first to do something like break open a light stick for a baby to play with or give a candy bar to a terrified child. But he wasn’t the only one. In a group of men whose business is killing, the fury they release upon the enemy is rivaled only by the humanity they display for innocents caught in the crossfire.”
When we were writing the first draft of the HomeBuilders Bible study, Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready, we did what was suggested and got a copy of the Command magazine published by Officer’s Christian Fellowship in order to track down an article by Anne Borcherding entitled "Share My Calling." The article begins with Anne telling the reader about a conversation she had with her husband, Rob, when he explained: "‘This isn’t just a job for me. This is my calling, and I need you to share my calling.’ As he described his commitment to the Army, my husband’s voice was filled with emotion. It grabbed my attention. Rob and I were attending an intensive marriage retreat before the first of three deployments to Iraq. God opened my eyes that day to an essential element of both Rob’s service in the military and our marriage.”
A friend in North Carolina introduced me to “standing for your marriage” as a concept and movement. I had always known there were those who refused to give up on their dying or dead marriage—but I had never heard it called “standing”. Since then I have paid close attention to articles, books, websites, testimonies, and seminars about standing. I know in the military community the stresses on a marriage can cause either the husband or wife—sometimes both—to say, “Enough! I’m done!”
During the debate over the pros and cons of marriage vs. living together I would often read that one party would say, “Why get married? It’s just a piece of paper. We already FEEL married.” In the military, that twisted logic just doesn’t hold up. A military marriage begins with one piece of paper—the marriage certificate. If you are not married “on paper," your relationship doesn’t count. Shortly after the official marital documentation follows the military ID card, another important piece of paper. Without that important document, there are no privileges that come with being a military dependent.
I opened my email one morning and read a message from a sweet military wife whose husband was in Afghanistan. She had been reading postings on Excellent or Praiseworthy, and was grateful for the encouragement. Then she closed her comment with, “I’m so thankful for America, a free country that allows me to know what true freedom is in Christ!”
In just about every artistic rendering of a soldier’s homecoming, be it a song, a movie or a television commercial, we are left with an emotional high that tells us all is well again. But if military wives assume their reunion with their husbands is a fairytale ending to their separation, disappointment is almost sure to set in. “I have seen way too many military wives build up a fantasy in their minds about what life will be like once their husbands are home—and then be destroyed when this fantasy was not a reality,” says National Guard wife
“I know it’s a red light!” I growled at my wife. My teenaged daughter groaned in the back seat, “Dad!” That moment Sunday evening was huge. My wife was anxious because of my poor driving. The beast of pride had welled up inside of me. It could easily have led to isolation—icy, short interaction for the rest of the evening, and sleeping back-to-back. There is a war going on for our souls
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.” Whatever our role, our position, our organization—we should strive to be the best. Agreed. But what if there was more . . . ? Don’t all people essentially want the same things? And, in part, don’t we all on some level deeply desire to be successful? I would say, “Yes!” When people think of “success,” we frequently assume professional development or promotion, superior financial security, nicer “stuff,” good reputation among peers and colleagues, and the quality of relationships we enjoy. I think we would agree this is a fair representation of elements of success. So you say, “Okay, Chaps, we got it. So where are you going with this?”
We do not want to miss this grace—this pure grace of God that gets us from the excitement-building, heart-racing, glee-producing “Welcome Home” moment . . . through the adjustments and transitions which characterize reintegration. Hebrews 12:15 reads, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God . . .”, and reintegration done well will validate that it is God’s grace, and grace alone, that smooths the return home. His greater grace takes you from "I can't do this anymore' to 'I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Likewise the pure grace of God in reintegration takes us from “I didn’t expect homecoming to be anything but sweet” to “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). This grace is so powerful, so cleansing, so redemptive that I can only call it “reintegrace.” Indeed, God can take the strain of deployment and the uncertainty of transition and fashion it to be good because of His pure grace and mercy (Psalm 119:68).
Moving can require a litany of give-aways: spices, cleaners, opened food packets, and an odd assortment of containers from refrigerators and cupboards. Somehow a stack of things always seems to remain that needs to be shifted to friends or family whether moving across town or across the ocean. My neighbor once left cinnamon, salt and a variety of seasonings for every occasion. Another friend gave hairspray, bathroom cleaner and cat tray liners—and we didn’t even have a cat. Sometimes we leave or get items we’ll never use or don’t know what they are. More important is what we leave behind emotionally when we move.