A friend of mine is missing her husband. No, she didn’t misplace him somewhere; he’s in the National Guard and is on his annual training. They are recently married, so the pain of separation is doubly hard. She has some people who scoff at her loneliness. A little “Suck it up and drive on!” doesn’t really do a lot to alleviate the sadness.
It got me thinking about how easily we dismiss people and their feelings, instead of encouraging them. Nowhere is encouragement more important than in the life of a military family in times of a deployment.
As an Army wife, I not only encourage my husband, but I am encouraged by him. There have been times I have had to draw in his strength and courage when we are facing a deployment. As he calmly packs his bags, speaking of when he returns like it is just around the corner, I am crumbling inside. I pull from his bravery until I have enough of my own to make it through.
There are times when he has been deployed, and I can hear it in his voice…the exhaustion, depression, and stress weighing him down. I have a list of worries I want to dump on him, but they are shelved for the moment. With a bright smile that I know he won’t miss, I peel away those layers burying him.
As a mom, my kids have seen me cry for their Daddy. They have wrapped their little arms around me and made me smile. But mostly they have seen me smile as we talk about him. I have found reminiscing with the kids is the best antidote for the missing Daddy blues. Giggling about how Daddy dances while he’s driving, or watching my son do his Daddy impression helps us dissolve in laughter instead of disintegrating into tears.
And there’s nothing like another military spouse to help pull you through your toughest days. She has your same grit, determination, and struggles. She can sympathize and understand. During deployments, I’ve had Bible studies with my Army sisters, where we have drawn strength from His Word and each other. We have taken turns cooking dinner, watching each other’s children, and being a much-needed shoulder.
Encouragement, given and received, fortifies us, binds us, and shelters us. Encouragement becomes the cadence that we sing, as we march through lives filled with long separations that can leave us short on patience and hope.