September 21, 2012

Military Spouses, You are Strong Enough to Give Out Grace -

Who has seen this sign? The phrase? Something similar? 

Before I begin to talk about this in more detail I want to say that I do not harbor any ill-feelings about it. The creator of this sign is one of many who have had this same sentiment over the years.

I have harbored the same sentiment on and off throughout the years.

Dear Wonderful, Amazing, Courageous Military Spouse--

I am a military spouse. 

I have been one for almost 14 years. I have seen 7 or 9 or something deployments. I have 4 children and a mess of animals and a home in constant need of repair. We have missed birthdays, holidays, and vacations together. I survived two blizzards, severe health surprises, and most of a pregnancy or two without my husband. If I sat down and thought about it I could probably give *some* of the details of us being separated during deployments or TDYs, etc. But I won't because it's something we did and now it's done.

You "get it", don't you?

I want you to think about your first time apart.  Was it during training or a TDY or did you get to dive in all at once with a deployment? There's something about that very first time. It will always stick out as the longest one. At least for me. Maybe for you, too.

When I look at this saying I know the sentiment behind it. I have felt that way before. However, I have a few thoughts now that we've been through many separations. 

First, unless you've been a military spouse or someone who works with a spouse who must be gone many months out of the year (there are civilian jobs, too.) there is no point of reference. One simply does not know ..until they do. Remember the preconceived notions of how deployments were going to go before jumping in? It is one of life's silly times of  "I know exactly how to handle this..." and then voila, you don't. 


I can't count the number of times I've heard, "I could never", "how do you do it?", and the fave, "you're superwoman!" 

Here's the deal. They *could* do it and they don't realize it. We do. We come from all walks of life. And when that spouse deploys life has to go on. So it does. 

As for being superwoman... I'll take that! (kidding... I very rarely feel like that.)

The point is.. that spouse whose husband is going away for a day, a weekend, a month, etc. needs grace from someone who has been there longer and harder. They don't understand what they have not experienced. Give them grace and encouragement. Woman to woman style. There is no doubt in my mind that they do not speak with the intention of doing harm or being inconsiderate. They merely have not walked in our shoes.

And that is okay.

Let me go a step further. Those darn welcome home videos. I hope I am not alone when I express that I do not watch them. They bother me. Not because people are being reunited... I LOVE that part. I truly do. Please don't think I'm anti-American for disliking them. I assure you I am anything but.


As a military spouse I understand that moment... the moments leading up to it... and the ones that come after it. It goes a little something like this:

I am sooooo excited you are coming home!!!!!!

--Oh crap, that pile of laundry in our bedroom has to go before he gets here.

--Kids, you have to STOP doing (that thing) that I let you do that Dad doesn't... don't even bring it up!

--Geez, I need to shave. And find my makeup. And figure out what to wear. Do I buy something? Oh gosh... what do I need for tonight???


--Time goes slower.

--The wait is terrible now but the bus is here.

--There must be a million guys in desert uniforms...will I miss him? Or.. pick the wrong one?

--Eye contact, hugs, kisses, welcome home... (the video portion)

--He has to get his bags... so the waiting continues.

--Idle conversation on the way home but the realization of not needing a plan for "tonight" kicks in. (Am I wrong??? hehe)

And then we begin our "new normal" all over again. The integration of the returning spouse back into the family dynamics. And it is a slow process. But we can do it... again.

Guess what, all those families who love to see those videos... they give people hope. They make them feel proud. They see the epitome of raw, real love. 
Dear sweet military spouses... it's okay to let them have that. Give them grace. They do not know and it is okay that they don't. Seriously. It's okay. In fact, we're strong enough to do that. We are, you can ask them how strong they think we are. And then let them call you Superwoman... because that rocks! 
Remember this before you light up some unsuspecting, unknowing non-military spouse:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  1 John 4:7-8 
Give them grace.
Your military sister,


Anonymous said... are so funny but so right with the moments leading up after deployment!!! Thank you for your encouragement!! Aimee

P.S. - And you are not wrong about not needing a plan for "tonight"!! ;-)

Deb said...

I did not know you were a MilWife, Angela.

I have several online friends who are military spouses and have dealt with deployments. I AM in awe of those women, because while I probably could summon the strength to do it if I had to, it wouldn't be very gracefully (I am a weenie when my hubby goes away for a week), and I am grateful that I haven't been tested in that way.

Thank you for sharing.

Shanabo said...

Great post, Angela. Spot on. We military wives are certainly strong enough and should have learned how to approach life with enough humor to handle the comments of the poor dears who don't get it. The hardest for me was when my sister called me while my hubby was deployed to say, "It wasn't him. You can relax. It was a Marine plane." The breath was knocked out of me for a moment. I handled her phone call with patience, but inside I was weeping and praying for the families of those Marines who were being notified as we spoke. So many levels of ignorance in the civilian community, but you are correct that doesn't mean we have to make it worse by lashing out.