I will never be with anyone in the military.
Those were my words as a single woman over 16 years ago. Growing up with my mom in the military, the last thing I wanted was to continue living the military life. I was tired of being the new girl AGAIN after yet ANOTHER military move. Just when I would put down roots and build friendships, it was time to go.
I had enough of that life.
But when my hubby entered my life, all those thoughts went out of the window.
With him, I saw a future and hope.
So here we are 16 years later. We have celebrated some truly wonderful moments, like the birth of our sons, new promotions, and finishing my advance degrees. But we have also had moments that stretched me to the very end of myself. I have watched my hubby leave for several deployments and school, leaving me at home with four young sons.
Through all the years, being a military has taught me a lot about having a attitude of gratitude.
I have to admit sometimes it can easy to see all that you lose being separated during deployments. You think of the birthday celebrations, anniversaries, or school events you have to attend alone. The nights you console your children as they cry missing their daddy while you wipe away your own tears. You can be consumed with the loneliness and anxiety of waiting for the next phone call hoping he’s safe.
For every negative thought, I disciplined myself to replace with an even more powerful grateful thought. The nights of loneliness taught me to be thankful for the nights we are home together. Instead of being on my phone, I look forward to looking into his eyes while we talk about our day. I get up at 4:30 in morning so that we can pray together as he leaves the work. Oh, how I LOVE the sound of snoring. It is music to my ear. It means he is home safe, with me.
I could count the says we are separate, but I have learned to be present in the ones we are together. I hide love notes in his work bag, send loving text messages appreciating what he does for our family, and meet him at the door when he comes home from work. Hearing laughter bellow from our living room while I hear my hubby and the boys play warms my heart. I appreciate that these moments are even more significant that any military separation will ever be.
So it is never about what I’ve lost, instead it is seeing all the moments that are right here in front of me.
Every day is worth celebrating.
Very early in our marriage, my hubby and I would make any day a day to celebrate. There was no such thing as an event too small to rejoice. We celebrated being able to have a date in the middle of the day or making progress in our finances. We celebrated when I finished one of my graduate classes or when I worked out consistently for a week.
We quit waiting for when to happen and embraced the now. As a military family, you just don’t know where you will be next year or even if your spouse will be home next month. You can plan and you can hope, but there are no guarantees. What we do have is now. We have this moment to appreciate and celebrate the milestones of our relationship.
We’ve learned to enjoy the good, keep our perspective during the challenging, and to create a life worth remembering.
God is always in control.
From the outside looking in, it may seem that we are in a powerless situation in which the military dictates our lives. Yes, the military may make life a little more challenging and definitely more interesting, but I’ve learned God is always in control. I may not understand the changes. I may not like that we have to move someplace I don’t want to go. Even in those moments, I am able to change my perspective to be thankful.
Every shift has worked together for our good. Every deployment has bought my hubby and I closer. Every move has shown us that God will provide and has the best in mind for us. Every change has helped me to trust God’s provision for our family wherever we may go.
Wherever He leads us, He provides for us.
More importantly, I learned I cannot rely on my own strength. My body has limits. My emotions could get in the way. My mind would sometimes wonder on all the what ifs. Being a military wife has helped me develop a bold faith that has kept me hungry for developing an ongoing relationship with Christ. I need Him to guide me, to strengthen me, to comfort me, and to give me peace. This military journey has helped me appreciate the access I have to God.
Whether you are or are not a military wife, I hope that you choose to have an attitude of gratitude when it comes to your marriage. Choose to be present, celebrate everyday and be thankful that God is in control.