"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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Builders of Bridges

I saw that someone found my blog a few days ago by googling "military girlfriend, why civilians suck".
I'm not exactly sure why google sent them to me. 

I was saying to a friend this past weekend that I have learned to be careful in my opinions and my broad judgments over the last several years. I have been humbled beyond words for the thoughts I have held strong to in the past, for the opinions I was brazen and naive enough to share. 

I was an  impatient "non-parent" who had strong beliefs on how children should behave. I know I have given harsh looks in the past, thought rude comments in my mind and sworn the awful vow of "my child will never".

God gave me an autistic child who teaches me what it is to love every single day


I was a twenty-something who strongly opposed this war, who act-u-ally verb-a-lized that a soldier could not possibly love his/her family because of what they "do to them" when they enlist. I saw no harm in saying such words, had no intense pride in our flag, and always thought - somehow in all of that thinking - that I supported the troops. 

God led me to C.


It wasn't just marrying a soldier that opened my eyes. It took much longer than the moments of those said vows. It was the patient and kind and grace-filled Army spouses that I met very early on in this journey. It was their pride, their intense, intense love for their soldiers, their absolute pain in joy that I witnessed.

It wasn't my first deployment that taught me. It wasn't my first R&R, my first military formal, my first "dependent" ID card.

It was these women who spoke without judgment. Who held their tongues until they could gracefully teach. Who smiled softly at my ignorance and showed me what it was to be selfless but fulfilled.

It wasn't until I stood beside my dearest friend as she labored without her husband there and watched her beautiful daughter enter into this life. It was witnessing that unthinkable courage, that tainted joy. 

It was the first time I knew the person the flag was at half-staff for. It was the first time I ran my fingers across the name on his uniform that was my name too knowing he might not come back to me. It was the first time I saw the most heart-searing pain in my husband's eyes when he took the hand of his friend's mother and walked her to his memorial. It was seeing my littlest little waddle into his daddy's arms a year after he left. 

It was through witnessing my spouse give all of himself for something greater than us. It was seeing the great burden he carried, knowing the great burden he carried, and suddenly understanding why he did it. It was his grace and selflessness and deep love for the people of this nation. It was intimately knowing the very beating of my soldier's heart. It was realizing that somewhere in all of this, his love for country was my love for country, his sense of service was my need to serve.

It wasn't anyone's anti-civilian words that made me strong in this life. It wasn't returned frustration that brought me to where I am. It wasn't clinging to the Army and separating myself from the rest of the world that allowed me to find joy. 

It was patience and grace, courage and understanding. 

I firmly believe that people react to the life we portray. That if we are to demand understanding and acceptance from our civilian counterparts, we must first demand that we give the same of ourselves to them. 

We can and must be kind and patient and grace-filled and open.  We must live in a way that shows the beauty in the sacrifice of this life. We cannot ask this country to recognize the sacrifice of service if we do not live in a way that serves. In a way that emulates the values we hold fast. 

I have been brought to tears again and again by the incredible questions and conversations I have received and had with civilian friends and acquaintances.
They have given me the most hope.
I have been humbled again and again by the reminder of the words and thoughts of my past that have allowed me to bite my tongue for a moment, to think before I speak. I have been blessed to see the outpouring of support and quest for knowledge and understanding from my home community. 

There is no doubt that that came from an open dialogue. From sharing this life. From sharing the journey.

I know there will always be hurtful words - I know because I have said them. I know there will be people who we think will never "get it". I know because I have been one.

For every military spouse that holds the mindset that "civilians suck", a brick is added to the wall that so often divides us. Choose whether you are a builder of walls or a builder of bridges.

Build walls and close yourself in. Build bridges and change mindsets.

I hope you choose to be a builder of bridges. 


  1. Very powerful as all of your writings are straight from the heart. I posted this on FB as many can profit from reading this. Thanks again for your writings.

  2. I can relate too this, and find reading this comforting. I have been dating an soldier for almost a year now , it as teach me more about myself and too let go of self.


I LOVE comments! Thanks for sharing : )