"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Military Man's Promise

There is a "poem" (as many have called it) circulating the internet. Someone, somewhere, at some point, renamed it to "A Military Man's Promise" or "A Military Couple's Promise". While I know whoever renamed this had the very best of intentions, somehow the original posting of this was lost. The original title and the author. 

I have struggled greatly with this.

Because I wrote it. I entitled it "Promises" - "A Soldier's Promise" and "An Army Wife's Promise". 

I wrote this while my husband served his second tour - in the heart of Kandahar - for eleven months.

I soaked my keyboard in my tears, my face, my hands, and I wrote it in one sitting. This is very much the work of my heart - the vows between a soldier and his spouse, between my C and I.

The vows of every military couple.

And so I am sharing it again and I ask that you share it as well because there are a thousand voices behind it. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands.

The voices of every soldier who has ever not known what to say and for every spouse who thought she was alone. 


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A Soldier's Promise ...

I cannot promise you every night of my life. I cannot promise to be beside you for every difficult moment, every trial, every hardship. In truth, I can promise you that I will not be with you for most. I will leave you at inconvenient times. I may miss the births of our children. Any special date to us may be tainted with the anniversary of the death of one of my friends. I will ask you to take over whatever life we have built together for months and years at a time. And will then crash back into that life that you have used your sweat and your tears and your heartache to keep together and try to take it back as I knew it before. I will shut you out at times because it will be the best way for me to hold it together at that moment. I will lie to you. I will tell you I don't know things when I do. I will not always tell you where I am going, when I will be back, or who I am with. I may not call you for weeks and months and you will not be able to call me. You will ask questions that I won't answer. You will know answers to questions that you will hope you never need. I will share things with my brothers that you will never understand. They will know things about me that you never will. They will be a support to me in some things that you cannot be. I will miss birthdays. I will miss anniversaries. I will have to get to know our children over and over again. I may need time to process things that seem natural to everyone else. It will seem that someone - or something - will always take precedence over you. You may lose me long before you ever thought possible. I will uproot you and ask you to re-establish our family anywhere in the world, in any season, at any time - over and over again. Sand and mud will be tracked through your halls from the boots I am too tired to take off. I will leave you when you beg me not to. I will stand at attention while you cry beside me. I will not turn my head and I will walk away. I will knowingly break your heart. And I will do it again - and again.

I cannot promise you all of me. I cannot promise that to our children. I cannot promise you much of anything.

But if you will have me, I can promise that as I march away from you it is not without sharing your heartache. I promise you that every time I break your heart I will be breaking mine. Every time that I cannot answer you I will be protecting you. Whenever you want to call and you have no number to dial I will be wanting to do the same. I will protect everything that we have created together with every fiber of my being while you do the same back at home. I will honor you in everything - every moment that we are apart and every moment that I am with you. I will fight harder and push further knowing that I do so for you. I will see the faces of our children in every life that I protect. And I will carry you with me in everything until my sandy boots once again sit just inside our door. 

An Army Wife's promise ...

I cannot promise that I will not become frustrated when you leave me and the world seems to fall apart around me. I cannot promise that I will not curse those who sent you when the dryer breaks, and the transmission needs to be replaced, and the dog eats the couch all in the same week - most likely the week after you deploy. I cannot promise that the sand and mud that cakes my floor will not cause me to give you harsh looks and rude thoughts. I cannot promise that my heart will not be torn in twelve different ways when you march away from me. I cannot promise that I will not let my anger show when you refuse to answer questions. I cannot promise to understand why you share things with your comrades that you will not share with me. I cannot promise that there won't be times when my heartache makes its presence known before my pride can mask it. I cannot promise that I will not show my worry and my concern when it is best for you not to see it. I cannot promise to understand why you do so many of the things you do.

But I can promise that for as many tears of sadness and frustration and anger that are shed there will be double that of tears of pride. I can promise you that for every time you are away from me, I will learn to cherish the times that you are with me. In everything I will honor you and honor your sacrifice. I can promise to teach our children to do the same. I will use every moment that you are not with them to showthem the amazing man that you are through my actions and my pride. I can promise that there will never be a night where you are not the subject of my final prayer and the keeper of my dreams. I promise to try to be understanding that there are many things I will never understand. I promise to keep you with me in everything and to do my best to keep grace in this life. I will be strong for you as you are strong for me and I will carry you with me in every moment until your sandy boots again sit just inside our door.

Written by: Megan Williams
© 2011, all rights reserved
Do not use without permission.

You can find the original posting HERE.
(Please always remember to share properly - linking to the source and/or with permission of the writer.)

52 comments:

  1. My husband was in special forces...10th group. And quite frankly, truer words were never written. I don't know if you husband is still active duty...but one day he will retire, and all that heartache will be worth it. I know it is now...but all that patience and love and hurt..it has built something truly precious. It just needs time to flower.

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  2. Christine, he is still active and plans to be for the long haul. Thank you for your kind words! I DO believe this life is full of blessings, and joy, and goodness. I do believe every moment of it is worth it. I feel incredibly privileged to live this life. THANK YOU to your husband for his service and thank you for taking a moment to leave a comment!!

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  3. My husband is currently serving in afghanistan and I can't begin to describe how this actually comforted me. Reading these was like I was reading my life as someone else wrote it. My husband and I have a 14 month old who looks at pictures of daddy on the wall and wants to kiss them and says dada... breaks my heart he's not here with us but I know he is where he needs to be at the moment. Thank you for writing these I will never forget them <3

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  4. The first time I read your beautiful poem it had been posted on facebook by a friend of mine who had recently lost her husband in Afghanistan. They have 4 young children and she has had to live the defence lifestyle with much secrecy as he was special forces. My heart broke all over again for her reading your poem. It is so beautiful and so true, thank you Megan for sharing so publicly your heartfelt emotions so that all us "military wives" can gain some benefit from your wise words. Thanks again.
    Bellablue

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  5. I love this poem. My husband is active duty in the Army and I'm still new to it all, I haven't faced a deployment yet, but somehow, this poem just hits home!

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  6. This 'poem' is amazing. Megan, you are truly one to be respected and honored just as much as soldiers are. You poured your heart out and told it exactly how it is. I pray that I have the strength as you did when our time comes for deployment. I appreciate that you shared your heart and that it is the TRUTH. It's not a story, it's thousands of peoples lives just as you said. You fall in love with a soldier and the pain of seperation and inconvience come with it....that doesn't make you OR your partner love one another less, it forces you to prove how strong your love really is. Thank you for sharing!
    -Katie Hall

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  7. @Amber, My prayers are with your husband. I find a strange comfort in these promises as well. When C left this last time Eli was 5 months old. When he returned he was nearly a year-and-a-half. I was so terrified that Eli would not know him. AND HE DID. There wasn't any fear or hesitation, he knew his daddy. That was incredible to me.

    Safety to your husband and strength to you!

    @Bellablue, my prayers are with your friend. I cannot tell you how it affects me when I hear of and see widows of this war post these. There aren't any words for it. THANK YOU for sharing and commenting. Thank you for your kind words!

    @Ebeifuss, WELCOME to the military life!! If there is anything you need, PLEASE email me! : )

    @Katie, it is very much my belief that all spouses who stand by their serviceman have earned that same respect. But the honor can remain with C. : ) I am honored to just BE his wife. And you are so right. This life doesn't cause less love. I think, like you, it is just the opposite. This requires a GREAT, great love. THANK YOU for commenting!!

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  8. This was so beautiful...My husband is in the RAAF and has been away for weeks at a time but luckily never months..This is a beautiful story and made me cry...THIS is truly the insight to a service family..SO honest and inspiring..Thank you for sharing, I have shared this with my friends and family..xx Bel

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  9. @Jamie, thank you!

    @Bel, thank you thank you!

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  10. This is everything I have ever felt and was never able to put into words... It is so beautifully written :) Your words remind me of why I need to stay strong (& admittedly it can be hard & at times I struggle), for my husband, for my son... & I still and am sure will always cry every time I read this :) Thank you for having the courage and strength to put into words what most of us fail to make sense of :) I thank you on behalf of myself, my sister, and every other military spouse I know xxx
    Sarah

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    1. Sarah, THANK YOU for being so very, very kind. It is my honor to share them. : )

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    2. I am not sure how I missed this before now, but someone plagarized it on Facebook this morning, so I came searching for its original author, and found you:)
      I am currently writing a book about being an Army wife, but from a perspective of being also being prior service (hoping to shed some light on the thought and tactical processes of what gets lost in translation in military marriages). I would like to feature some of your work if possible. I'm not sure I will ever be published, but have had great reviews through the writing process so far... Please contact me at newleaseonlife12@gmail.com if you are remotely interested in having some of your writings featured, in critiquing mine, or coauthoring some work.
      As I read your words, they felt like my own, as I think we use similar styles to relay our meaning and I am interested in knowing more about you. I will warn, I am 2.5 week post neurosurgery, so I am slow at reading and writing right now, but using this recovery time to attempt to finish my book.

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  11. Where do I begin, I am surprised I even got through this poem, trying to read while I'm balling my eyes out. You have just captured an Army wife's life so perfectly, my life. Everytime my man comes home I am forever biting my tongue or thinking oops I forgot he hasn't seen our daughter do that yet, or know what she likes or her routine etc. Thank you for helping me remind myself to be more thoughful towards him.

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  12. I'm new to Army life. Not new to long distance relationships... It hits home but I can DO THIS! a reminder that we have to trust them even when we don't see them. A civilian woman has it so easy... Read the "letter to a civilian woman" it says it perfectly.

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  13. Oh my... I love this. I was crying the whole time I read this. I miss my man so much, though we talk a lot. He is in Japan right now, and he comes home tired from work, and me not being there to comfort him...makes me so sad.

    This is a perfect promise, and thank you for giving me more reasons to be there for my man.

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  14. how do you cope with someone you love, when he leaves out the door and you dont want him to go... He used to be in the Army.. I wear his dogtags everyday, When you love someone and dont want to watch them go, but they go anyway.. how do you know if you will see them again or not

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    1. I am working on a post to respond to your comment.

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  15. This poem is amazing!! It's perfect for some journaling on a 2 page scrapbook insert for my husband's military scrapbook. Do you mind if I use it? I'll give props with your name and website where it can be found. It's a beautiful poem, made me cry because it's all true! Even 7 months after my husband returned home from Afghanistan, I still don't understand most of what went on but what he has told me, I don't want to. It's heart breaking and heart wrenching!! Deployments are always the hardest on a marriage and for the children. It was a very trying time for us, especially after my husband was hit by an IED, he lives but has nightmares every night, it breaks my heart! Anyways, my heart and prayers go out to both the wives and the soldiers!!

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    1. Angela,
      You and your husband are in my thoughts and prayers!! By all means, use it! What a wonderful idea! Do you mind sending me a photo when you finish it? I would love to see it! Thank you for commenting and please email any time!
      -Megan

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  16. Hiya there,
    This poem is beautiful and as all have said above it really does sum up the life that we have to live. It is a constant challenge but things like this and people like you help me to have the strength to get through it. My partner came home from afghan a year ago and is currently deployed in Kenya for 2 months and it has been one of the hardest times of my life, but I am more than proud of him and everyone who sacrifices for our country.
    My email address is davey_rebecca@hotmail.com
    It would be lovely to get to know some people that go through this daily as myself and my partner are not yet married but will be next year I have not had the chance to get to know many going through the same, and I would love to support people and share my experiences.

    Thanks again for the beautiful poem I will show it to my partner when he is next home.

    Thank you Rebecca

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  17. A true insight to the reality of military life. So nice to see everyone there for eachother. Its this kind of thing that makes the whole journey worth it :)

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  18. I read this on a friends facebook, and I love it! Made me cry! I am a new follower!

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  19. I was a military wife for only a year, then my husband was honorably discharged after four tours overseas. But there are things he cannot tell me, and will never be able to. And there are parts of his life I will never be a part of, even now. There is this one truth though, we need each other, even when there are pieces missing. These essays are true, and have touched my life.
    Thank you.
    P.S. When "Chesty" Puller left the Marines he told his wife all the energy he put into his military career was now for her. She too was glad she hung in there.

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  20. When dealing with a man in the Army it is hard to understand things or task that they encounter, unspoken acts your words have truly put me in the state of understanding, thank you for shedding a light on a dark situation.

    Thank You!!

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  21. I am an Australian who is about to marry an American soldier and just reading this has made me realise how life will be for us. I have yet to face a deployment but I sure do know it will come one day. Thank you for such a beautiful poem, no words could be truer..

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  22. i have a boyfriend in the Army he is 18 years of age which is no age really i feel so proud of him he will be going to afghanistan next year in june i will be so very upset for him to leave me. i feel so proud of our soldiers and i have so much respect that our soldiers are willing to put their lives on the line for our country. i have a brother who was only 18 years of age who was a fallen soldier in iraq he loved his job and was a very happy young soldier he was a rifleman his life was taken at such a young age but he wanted to protect his army mate from being fired at as his mate had a 3 week old baby girl back at home who he had never met before so my brother took his life for him i love my brother soooooooo much and he will always be my hero he is the brightest star in the sky!!!! but this is a gorgeous poem every word in this poem is so exactly true. xxxxxxx

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  23. My eyes were filled with tears while readind this. I hope and pray that everything will be alright for you and your family.

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  24. Megan ... as the father of two soldiers ... a son and daughter-in-law in the Canadian military with service in both Bosnia and Afghanistan ... I thank you for the expression of what they feel for one another ... and can attest to the bonds they have for each other and their little girl. The Best Man at their wedding was KIA in Afghanistan just mere months after we all celebrated so wonderfully ... we include his boots [figuratively] inside the door as well, he is home now forever ... may God protect and also comfort all military spouses and families.

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  25. These poems touch us so much we used them as our vows as I married into the life of an army wife here in the UK.

    Thank you

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  26. This has truly made me feel 100 x Better. my boyfriend Just listed into the army it's really hard to get used to this whole life style knowing I can't go see him when I want because we're not married but these promises sure gave me reassurance that everything will be ok and that I'll see him soon

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  27. I'm an army girlfriend and I'm new to this life style my man has just been deployed. We have plans to get married. He tells me all the time.. These promises have really hit home. we have been together over a year now. I cry myself to sleep with the thought I'd he going to be ok.. These promises have reassured me that it will be ok! Thank you so much

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  28. I have been marred to my soldier for 7 months now. I have been lucky and not faced a deployment. He has deployed before so he knows what to expect when it happens while I do not. Just during the times he is away at training or school get to me. We spend as much time as possible together. I know I have not had to go through what most others have but I do really love this Promise. I got about three lines read before I myself was bawling. This is very heart felt and makes me see that he hates it as much as I do at times. Thanks.

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  29. i may not be married to my boyfriend yet but he is in infantry in the army and this touched my heart like nothing else i have ever or ever will read .It gave me the strength i needed and i hope that it dose for everyone because the men and women in the forces need our complete love and support and sometimes them knowing that they have someone to come home makes all the difference.
    -God bless our troops and all the soldiers that stand prepared to defend what they love

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  30. Just came across this when looking for the right things to say to my girlfriend. I'm just starting off on my long road in the army and without really looking I found my lucy. Turns out neither of us were looking for what we have found but to say we have a spark is an understatement. We have only had two weeks over Christmas to see each other as we started chatting through facebook and in 6 days I go back.
    Not all of what you've written applies to us but the words you have put together pull on the heart string and parts of it explain exactly what I want her to know.
    Thank you for writing this, within this I have found a way to say what I need to, to let her know that I will be coming back and to walk away from here will break my heart. All the best to you and you're family and thank you once again
    KJ

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  31. Cynthia McNeal-RileyJanuary 14, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    I am not a military wife but I am a military brat and I saw my mother struggle as my Daddy, my superhero, spent so much time away from home defending what out country stands for. I didn't understand it at the time and even as a grown woman I can only imagine the trials and tribulations my mother went with practically raising three kids. Your testimony gives me insight as to what my mother was going through. Thank you for sharing and being an inspiration for so many military families. GOD bless you and please continue to be a blessing. GOD isn't finished working through you.

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  32. I would like to know if I could have the permission to use "Army wife's Promise" for my speech competition. If I could also change wife to girlfriend? All rights still go to you. Please let me know as soon as you can. Thank you!

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    1. Sorry, Abby, to respond so late! Of course you can! Just be sure to cite the source. :)

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  33. God Bless you all. You are all amazing women. Have the hearts of angels. Patience of saints. All of you are blessings. Because of your love, your soldiers can do what they do. May all of you be blessed with only Health and Happiness.

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  34. It is day 5 of my partners first deployment 6 months into his first posting. It maybe day 5 but I have already experienced a lot of these feelings and thoughts but can understand the rest. I'm am writing my journal for him when he comes back and his Easter card to go in his special package. Thank so much

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  35. I am about to go thought my 1st development as a amry wife and have never been so sacred in my life not to be alone but bc its has to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do to know the one person I love more than anything in the world I may never see again and I found so much truth in this bc there are already things he cant tell me and I know there are so much more to come but I know than our love is so worth the wait and I wouldn't have it any other way hes a solider 1st and my husband 2nd and I couldn't be more proud to call him mine thanks so much for this I needed it more than you know

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  36. The Yuma County Library District is sharing poems with the public tomorrow for National Poem in Your Pocket Day. One of our library workers chose this poem to share with our patrons. May we have permission to print this and hand out to the public? Thank You, Sherri Levek Library Assistant I Yuma County Library

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  37. I am not a military wife yet but my heart is with all the women who has loved one in the army.

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  38. Former 7th SFG still cant tell my wife things will never tell my children. This is conformation to me that someone understands. Thank you it is perfect

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  39. Former 7th SFG still cant tell my wife things will never tell my children. This is conformation to me that someone understands. Thank you it is perfect

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  40. Former 7th SFG still cant tell my wife things will never tell my children. This is conformation to me that someone understands. Thank you it is perfect

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  41. I live this poem u read it evrerytime I miss my husband, he is currently in south Korea and we couldn't go with him, it's gonna be year this August, and its hard to be apart, ur phone becomes your best friend and every where u go u see all families together and the kids ask why? And u almost drop in tears and trying to hold them back. And all I can answer to my kids its that be happy that ur daddy works hard so the families stay together, that's our sacrifice!!!

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  42. Hi Megan, my husband is currently serving on a submarine with the Navy. We have a 10 month old baby boy who my husband has only met twice since he was born (he missed the birth and tons of firsts) and won't be around for a while. This poem brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for writing this. I really would love to share this poem with him with your permission?
    -MS

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  43. I would like to use this for my retirement giving you credit on my program.

    Colonel Susan M Perry

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    1. Yes! Absolutely. Thank you for your service to our great nation, ma'am. Enjoy your retirement. - Megan Williams

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  44. My mother was an army wife for 17 years until I was 13. Thankfully my dad was not away as much as a lot of guys are., ,, I have so much respect for all you ladies. I honestly COULD NOT do it. I just know I don't have it in me.

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I LOVE comments! Thanks for sharing : )