I'm not a young Army Wife. This is not my first, or my second, or my third or my (you get the picture) deployment. And it doesn't matter. I miss my soldier as much as the next wife. My kids miss their Daddy as much as any kids would. Deployments are hard regardless of who you are and what number this one is for you.
I learned a lot during this deployment. It changed me. Let me share: 1. I learned that I am stronger than I think. No military wife is ever ready for deployment. From what I hear from other wives none of us really feel that we are strong enough to go through a deployment. But at the end when we look back,
I’ve made a list of things people hate to hear when their spouse is deployed. Perhaps you could add to this list, but these are the statements about which I’ve heard complaints: “I’m sorry.” “I know how you feel. I was a single mom.”
Have you ever pushed the “Send” button on an email or text. . . .and then wished you could “take it back”? Once it’s gone, it’s gone. . . .and if you’ve experienced this feeling of regret, or maybe even panic, you know that email & texting are great tools but have their limitations. Without tone of voice, without context, without a smile or a frown, without really knowing how the other person is going to “receive” your message—it’s hard to rely on technology to communicate everything you want to your spouse.
It’s unusual for a wife to speak at her husband’s military retirement ceremony. More “normal” is for him to give her a gift—maybe a bouquet of roses—and then speak about her sacrifices as a military wife. Then she usually receives a commendation—pictures are made with her—and much applause is given to her, as it should. So when I heard about this poem, recently included in the printed retirement program of a dear friend,
She was a strong woman. Perhaps that came from being the oldest of seven—no doubt a rowdy bunch. Perhaps it came from growing up during The Great Depression and having to work hard at home. Perhaps it came from having two pretty strict parents who expected a lot from their kids. She was strong even in the days when it wasn’t the “norm” to be a strong woman.
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!”
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