He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. — 1 John 3:16
Military members and their families are very sacrificial people. They have a noble calling, and they are quick to sacrifice and to serve. Today’s dare will be a reminder that those same attributes are necessary in your home—with your spouse.
During deployment, are you keeping a close eye on the needs of your spouse? Are you ready to help meet those needs, sacrificially if necessary? Here are two “dos”, two “don’ts,” and two “musts” for sacrificial living while you are geographically separated because of wartime duty:
1. Listen and give understanding. Sometimes your spouse needs to “vent,” by email, letter or telephone. They need to talk through a situation, maybe even complain a bit. Our tendency is to want to fix it, and to become frustrated if we can’t because of the distance factor. This can be complicated by misunderstandings caused by the time factor, too, since situations can change throughout a day. But words of affirmation and encouragement are always appropriate and may be exactly what is needed to help your spouse through a tough spot. “You are doing everything in caring for our home.” “You are doing everything in fighting for our country” may be just the support that they need for the moment.
2. Seek help, or give your spouse permission to seek help. I remember when a neighbor of mine called to tell me that my next door neighbor, whose husband was TDY, needed help with a sick child. I did not know that was happening, but my neighbor did because her kids had the same “bug.” She couldn’t help, but hoped I could. I was so grateful for her call because I was able to step in at a time when there was a significant need. None of us are mind-readers, and the blanket statement, “Call if you need help” sometimes works, but often doesn’t. Military folks can be very self-reliant—to a fault at times. With current methods of communication, it is possible to call or email your neighbors or friends if you think there is something that they could do to help your spouse in a time of need. Make sure that you ask women to help women, and men to help men—unless the circumstances require differently (like a house or car repair, or some food or babysitting needed—you know the boundaries in those situations).
1. Make comparisons. If your spouse has a need, don’t say “You think you have it bad! Well, I have to ________________.” This doesn’t help. Go back to the “do” list and listen with understanding or help your spouse to get help. Self-pity does not translate well across the miles in answer to what your spouse is trying to communicate to you.
2. Accuse. The biting words, “You wouldn’t have this problem if only you had done what I said!” or “You could fix this if you would only do ____________.” Your concern and your initiative will help so much more than your criticism. Love listens, love shows compassion, and love helps.
1. Say “How can I help?” These are words of balm to a troubled soul. Sometimes the answer is “just listen.” Sometimes it is, “What I really need is ___________.” Your answer may need to be, “I can’t do that from this distance, but I can do ___________. Would that help?” People are not so interested in what you can’t do as they are in what you can do. Ask—and then step out in fulfillment of that need. That’s what love does.
2. Say “How can I pray for you?” Then do it. If you’re on the phone, pray over the phone. Pray over email. Write, “Here’s how I’m praying for you.” Or “Here’s the scripture I’m praying for you.” Then remember to follow up. If you know that your spouse has been praying for you in a situation, make sure you ask how that is going. Or report back with, “You remember that we prayed for _______?” “Well, here’s how God answered our prayer: ____________.”
Life is tough. Marriage is tough. Deployments are tough. You and your spouse are not enemies. . . . you are willing to lay down your lives for each other. That’s love.
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Identify the one greatest need in your spouse’s life right now. Pray for wisdom in how you can help, and then approach them using these “dos”, “don’ts” and “musts.”
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ . . . .Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” — Matthew 25:35-36, 40
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13
I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. — 2 Corinthians 12:15
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. — James 5:16
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)