When I was a relatively new Army wife, one of my mentors was very blunt about what it meant to be a soldier. She talked about the trinity of the military man - God, Country, Family. The sign she gave me with this written hangs on the wall in my hallway to this day.
I do not think I am overstepping in saying that when we marry a military man or woman we are asked to share in the sacrifice. I do not think it belittles their service by saying that we are also asked to serve. And I'm not saying that when we marry into this life we become martyrs - Lord knows that is not what I am saying. I am saying that if you are going to live this life, embrace this life, and find your purpose, you must make the choice to serve. You must be willing to sacrifice. Like our soldiers, your love for Country must be greater than you love for self. Your faith in God must be bigger than your desires for what comes easy, what seems "normal," what this worldly place tells us is "most convenient".
This life is not convenient. It isn't easy. It isn't "normal" (such a horrible word).
I am not saying you need to go out and volunteer until you pass out and attend every fundraiser and pack care-packages until you have paper cuts all over your fingers. I would never say that. To wear yourself down serves no greater good. We cannot do it all but everyday we must do some. So I will say, if there is only so much you have to give: give one thing that covers the whole.
Love your soldier.
I mean really, really love him. Be patient when his gear covers your freshly mopped floor, or his boots leave dirt on your just-vacuumed carpet. Hold the guilt when he tells you that he has to go for a week or two or three for training and he won't be able to attend your best friend's wedding with you, or he's going to miss your son's birthday, or he can't stay home with the kids for that girl's night you already planned three weeks in advance. He carries enough guilt in his heart already. Don't think he doesn't think about it. Don't think he needs to be reminded. He already knows. Give him a kiss, tell him, "It's okay," and pull his duffle bags out of the garage.
Trust that he misses you, that he wants to be with you, that he only does what he does because he loves you. Trust that if there was a way that he could serve his country without leaving your side, he would find it. Always, always trust.
Be proud of him. Standing behind C a few days ago while he took command of his troops, knowing the kind of man he is, knowing how he leads, was one of the proudest days of my life. I am hopeful for the future that awaits us. I am hopeful for everything that is to come. I am confident that whatever obstacles are ahead, he will overcome and lead his men through. I am always proud - on the big days and on the small days - because I married a man who would give his life for any man beside him. I married a man who believes in something bigger than him, than me, than you. Who will always give without asking anything in return. I married a man that makes me so very proud to stand beside him because of the father and the husband that he is. I am so very grateful for what he has given. So very proud. So very blessed.
Understand his sacrifice and do everything to honor it. By getting out of bed when you really want to mope and sleep and feel sorry for yourself you honor the sacrifice. Being a good mother to your children, teaching them the importance of service, not complaining that you are doing it alone in front of those who need to know how important what he does is most, honors the sacrifice. Being present, living each day, loving the life you live, the person you chose, honors their service.
Love without keeping score, without giving guilt, without demanding more in return. Love across miles, across countries, across phone calls, across a war zone. Love with your whole heart, your entire being, in everything you do. Love so deeply that it reaches beyond borders, into the darkest of circumstances, into the heart of the one who defends everything that your's holds. Love in the way that teaches your children, that makes them know what love really is, where goodness comes from, where strength comes from.
When you love your soldier, you are serving your God, your Country, your Family. You do not do one without the other. Love your God. Love your country. Love your family.
Love your soldier.
Love is an action, it is a doing, it is a choice.
Choose it today. Choose it tomorrow. Choose it everyday from here after. Every choice becomes simpler and every outcome becomes greater when, above all else, you always choose to love.
"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.