May 2017

By Faith

What Being a Military Spouse Teaches Me About Living What I Believe

If you’re serving in the armed forces or married into the military, there’s a high probability your social media feed is flooded with memes about life as a military spouse.  And given that this time of year is the beginning of “PCS* season,” there’s at least one or two articles about the unique challenges faced by military spouses. (Like this one.)

Here are a couple favorites:

(*Please note, PCS means permanent change of station… which is a bit misleading. It means you’re permanently leaving the place you currently call home, but the next location is only “permanent” for a year or two, maybe three if you’re lucky.)

Each year, the Friday before Mother’s Day is nationally recognized as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. It’s a time set aside to say thank you to all those who serve and sacrifice alongside their military spouse.

Personally, I think the timing is suspicious. It’s awfully close to Mother’s Day. It’s on a Friday, not on a Monday, which means the military members have all week to “remember.” And the closet conspiracy theorist in me wonders if a bunch of folks at the Pentagon realized they needed to appreciate spouses right before they asked us to pack up our lives and transplant ourselves to Timbuktu. “Let’s be sure everyone feels loved and appreciated before we hijack normal.”

If you haven’t realized by now, humor is vital to surviving life as a military spouse. So is faith.

More and more I’m realizing that the privilege of this military life is that it asks me to physically live what I believe, rather than just believing what I live. When I take the time to evaluate what I believe in any given situation, those beliefs to become prescriptive for how I live. Choosing to live what I believe guides me in the moment and directs me for the uncertain path ahead. And let’s be honest, there’s a LOT of uncertainty in life as a military spouse.  By pausing to ask myself, “what do I believe as a military spouse? Am I living it? Or am I believing what I live?” I have found a compass for a life best defined by a GPS repeating “recalculating route.”

 

Here’s what I believe:

  • As a military spouse, when we said, “I do,” it was our equivalent of raising our right hand and agreeing to serve alongside the one wearing the uniform.
  • They pledged to “protect and defend” but we pledged our love and surrendered our lives to follow. Where you go, I will go. What matters to you, matters to me. What guides your life, guides my life.
  • Just as they offer a salute as a sign of respect, we salute with our lives. We believe in something greater than ourselves.

And while I know many military spouses who differ on their perspective of God and religion, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that military spouses live BY FAITH.

Consider these examples:

By faith we go… we leave what we know as home and go where we are told, when we are told to leave.

By faith we make a home and live as foreigners in strange lands.

By faith we exceed expectations because we choose to believe and hope for the impossible, improbable, and unlikely.

By faith we believe what we cannot see and may never truly know.

By faith we look to the horizons expectantly, full of hope for tomorrow, even as we strive to bloom where we are planted.

By faith we sacrifice.

By faith we bless the next generation (by the way we live today.)

Those seven statements characterize the life of every military spouse I know (including my mother, grandmother, and their friends.)   But I didn’t write them. They are recorded in the Bible in a passage sometimes referred to as the Hall of Faith.

Perfectly appropriate, in my opinion, because as demonstrated by how we live, military spouses are heroes of faith. And I think it’s important to spend at least one day reminding ourselves, and each other, of the tremendous faith we possess.

Friends, let’s make Military Spouse Appreciation Day more than a meme and a banner on social media. Take a moment to look around at the Military Spouse Hall of Faith. It’s a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on to run this race with perseverance.

I know for me, that’s a cheering section I couldn’t live without. To my mom, my grandmother, and all my military spouse friends: Thank you for living what you believe. Thank you for choosing to live by faith every day, sometimes hourly, to support a husband or wife who wears the uniform.

What Do You Believe? {a few verses to help consider a deeper faith} Romans 4:20; Hebrews 11; Hebrews 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 30:19; Proverbs 16:9; Jeremiah 29:12-14