The Sacrifice of the Military Family

I am a proud Army wife. My husband proudly serves our country as our kids and I cheer him on from the sidelines. He is wonderful man. He loves his wife and kids and would lay down his life for us if need be. His job also proves that he is willing to lay down his life for people who don’t know him, let alone appreciate him.

But the personal pride and honor that come with serving your country also comes with great sacrifice.

The Sacrifice of Time

When Rylinn was a month old, Robert left for 6 months of training. We saw him twice during that time and talked on the phone regularly. But nothing will ever replace the deep sadness that we both felt about everything he was missing. But we managed to get through it, looking forward to the time when we’d be back together again.

When Rylinn was 7 months old and Mackenzie was almost 2, we got to spend almost a month together as a family before he left again, this time for Afghanistan. This separation was harder. We didn’t get to talk on the phone very often and we didn’t get to Skype. Our main form of communication was through Google chat. For me, it was hard to not talk to him. I never knew how much you could miss the sound of someone’s voice.

In the first 14 months of Rylinn’s life, he missed about 12 months. He was deployed when Rylinn turned 1 and Mackenzie turned 2. He was deployed for his birthday, my birthday, and a handful of other holidays. He missed Rylinn’s first words and steps. He missed Mackenzie’s first stitches. He missed my baptism. The sacrifice he has made astounds me and the pain he must be feeling hurts me.

Rylinn will be 2 in 9 days, and he will be in the field. So now, he has missed her first birthday, he will miss her second, and, unless things change, he’ll also be deployed for her third.

These are the sacrifices of a military family. I’ve been asked, “How can you handle that? Doesn’t it just make you angry?”

1 Corinthians 13:7 – Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

And here’s my answer: I handle it because I love him. We make it through the separation knowing that one day, we’ll be together again. He misses a lot and we compensate for that by making a lot of home videos. It makes me very angry! I hate seeing the sadness in him when he misses a big event in one of our girls’ lives. But love is what gets us through and love is the only thing strong enough to get any military family through any type of separation.

The Sacrifice of Love

Jefferson Bethke has a video on marriage that says, “it’s not the love that sustains the promise, it’s the promise that sustains the love.” I love that statement and I feel like it’s a great reminder for military families. It’s good to remember, that just because I don’t feel love the way I want to when he’s deployed, that doesn’t mean that the promise we made to each other on our wedding day is any less valid. The promise that we’d love each other and be together until death doesn’t go away when physical love isn’t there. During those times of extended separation we can’t forget that it’s the promise we made to each other on our wedding day what helps to sustain our love.

1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

The sacrifice that we make isn’t easy. Some say that it gets easier with time, but it doesn’t – it only gets harder. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder either, I hate that saying!

God is there and He knows what I am going through. The great thing is that even when I feel lonely because my husband is gone, I am never truly alone because He is always with me. I feel like He makes His presence more known to me when Robert is gone because He knows I need that. What a loving God we serve!

The Sacrifice of Fear
Death is a very real fear for a military spouse. We live every day not knowing if our loved one is still alive, not knowing if you’ll talk to him, and not knowing if you’ll ever see him again. If you dwell on, it’s terrifying and it’s easy to live our lives in fear of the “what if’s”.

It’s in those moments of fear that I think it’s even more important to trust in God.

Isaiah 41:10 – fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

We don’t have to be strong enough to handle the fear that come with deployments, but we simply need to know the one who can.

Psalm 112:7 – He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Trusting in God when the fear seems overwhelming is easier said than done. It’s hard to trust that God has it all under control and that He’s in control of what happens. I know I struggle with it. It’s hard to let go of it and give it all to God. To admit that God is actually in control of whether or not Robert comes home alive is a terrifying realization.

I know that I don’t see things the same way He does and I struggle with seeing the bigger picture of things. It’s comforting to know though that He has a plan for all of us, a plan to glorify himself, whether we can see it or not.

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

So in the meantime, we’ll pray for protection and safety, but we’ll also pray that God’s will will be done, whether I like it or not. I’ll accept God’s ways even if I don’t agree with Him. Because who knows better how anything should work than the One who created it? In the fear, in the separation, in the sadness, and the pain, I will turn to God because He knows!

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