Being His Hands: Military Edition
Some people have a gift.
They look into your eyes and see something’s troubling you. They just know. They ask the right questions. They learn you’re overwhelmed or hurting or grieving or in pain. They find solutions to alleviate some of your burdens. They encourage you, love on you, dive in and help in just the right way. They are God’s hands in your life.
I am not one of those people.
I’m that person who should be observant—I’m a writer after all. Don’t writers see everything? Not this one. I get so caught up in my fictitious world that I miss the one around me. Is that you? Oh, not the writer bit. (We’re an odd breed.) But maybe you’re caught up in your busyness, and everything else is just a blur. It happens.
Or maybe you’re in between. You’re the kind of person who sees the issue, but you’re shy. You don’t know what to do or what to say… So you take a second look at that family who shares the pew with you or give a warm smile across the aisle, but go your own way, wishing you could help. But…not.
This series is for you.
This series is for me.
It’s meant to make us aware of situations faced by those sitting next to us in the pew and to equip us to reach out…to be the hands of Christ.
~ Jenness Walker
They met. Fell in love. Got married in a perfect wedding ceremony with all their friends and family present. They had a beautiful family.
But their happily ever after looks a lot different than ours.
Theirs involves weeks of separation for training. Months apart during deployments. Being uprooted from their homes and starting over every so often. Fighting various battles at home and abroad. Knowing their ’til death do us part might come sooner rather than later. Yet they square their shoulders, put on a smile, and face whatever each day brings them.
I can’t imagine living like that. I don’t pretend to know what their lives are really like. I do know they are heroes, all—not just those who fight for the land of the free, but also those who keep the home fires burning.
But even heroes need help once in a while…and that’s where we, the Body of Christ, come in.
For this article, I contacted some of the strong women I know who have/are living the life of a military spouse, asking what had been or could be done to make their lives easier, especially during deployments. Here’s what they had to say:
For the soldier
Find ways to stay in contact.
~ The pastor of our church emailed my husband on a regular basis. That meant a lot to both of us.
~ The church sent CDs of the services so he could listen to his home pastor preach.
~ The church members got together and sent care packages to him.
Hold them up in prayer.
~ Before a deployment, the church would call my soldier up to the front and pray with him.
~ They prayed for him every week while he was away.
For the spouse
Help them feel like part of the family.
~ Our church hosted a marriage conference recently. Though my husband’s on deployment, they did everything they could to make me feel included, even surprising me with a video message from my spouse.
~ Invite the spouse of the deployed person over for dinner once in awhile. Life without the spouse there tends to get very lonely and the occasional evening of fellowship would go far in making them feel remembered and cared about.
~ One thing that meant a lot to me was when a family invited me and my daughter over for a holiday cookout. Holidays can be difficult, and there are times when it’s not possible to spend them with family. They might be all alone and an invitation to participate in a holiday celebration would mean so much. Even if they turn down the invitation, it still shows that they’re thought about and cared for.
If possible, create a ministry specifically for them.
~ A Bible study would be great, especially with other military wives. It’s so nice to learn alongside others who are going through the same thing.
~ Having a military ministry headed up by someone who isn’t active duty (because we move so often) would be wonderful.
~ Our church had meals every Sunday for the military and their families.
Find practical ways to demonstrate your care.
~ When my soldier came home, the pastor and his wife went on base with me to meet him, taking pictures and video for us. It was so nice to have them there.
~ When he was ready to ship out, they let me know they were available on that day. They were ready and willing to come hang out or do whatever I needed on the day he left.
~ It’s nice when a person offers “if you need anything, let us know.” It means so much more when they are specific (i.e. What need do you have this week?). I may or may not have had something they could help me with, but it would have felt like they genuinely cared and were not just spouting rhetoric. Better yet, just go ahead and act on their own (i.e. Mow the lawn).
~ While my husband was gone, my church was very supportive, always being willing to help me with things with our vehicles, kids and other house concerns. Then, while I was away for long periods of time, they checked on our home for us and made sure things were running smoothly.
~ For stay-at-home moms, we don’t get a break when our spouses are gone. A once-a-month or even every-other-month Mom’s Night Out would be amazing.
~ Even an hour or two of someone watching the children can be a huge blessing, as many times, far away from family, the spouse is responsible for those children 24/7 without help and without a break.
~ When the soldiers come home, just don’t forget to be available to help during the transition back to “normal” as well. It is an adjustment, and it’s tough, no matter how good your marriage is.
Every situation is a little different. No one is exactly alike. But ask. Listen. And become the hands of Jesus in the ordinary lives of these not-so-ordinary families.
Thank you, Bethany Plummer, Elsa Garcia (and friends), Christa Fulton, and Stephanie Cantrell, for sharing your thoughts and experiences! And thank you, military families everywhere, for your sacrifices and your service to our country.