Throughout the past 23 years as a military spouse, I can think of numerous occasions on which people have looked at me and said, “Thank you for your sacrifice.” While my reaction has always been to redirect their thanksgiving to my husband, there really is a lot of truth to it. I don’t have an elevated sense of self-worth or believe that my “job” in the military is tougher than my husband’s and I’m definitely not all about wearing his rank. However, I really do believe that military spouses understand what it means to sacrifice. John 15:13 tells us that, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Now I know that no military spouses are out there on the front line fighting. But stay with me for just a minute.
For most couples, getting married means settling down and establishing roots. Not for the military couples. We move frequently, often times to areas where we know no one. We restart our career with each move, or step away from the working world to maintain stability at home. I speak from experience, as I know the struggle it has been to obtain and maintain teaching certificates in four different states. I know what it’s like to possess a driver’s license from one state, a license plate from another state and yet an insurance card from a third state. There’s nothing like standing at the gas pump struggling to remember which zip code is current. My type “A” personality does not like that I can’t plan how long we will live in a location or specific house. In fact, we own 7 sets of decorative curtain rods that I refuse to get rid of because they might fit in a future home. And the kids. It breaks my heart to watch them have to say goodbye to their friends every few years.
On the other hand, we sacrifice many friendships because the minute people find out we are a military family and they realize we will be leaving in a few years, they “don’t want to get attached”. Yes, we’ve been told that verbatim. Being a military spouse has forced me to sacrifice and give up many things. I’ve had to give up my plan for where my kids will grow up and graduate from high school. I’ve had to give up trying to plan and be in control of our lives and surrender it to God. And I’ve realized that only HE knows what is best for us, as He sees our path from beginning to end. God carefully places our family in locations for just a little while to accomplish good for His kingdom. He has placed my family right where we are for such a time as this. Whether it be to meet and encourage new friends, to lead someone to Christ, or to be a light to a new neighbor, our moves are never in vein. They fit beautifully into his master plan for our lives.
Since I have started to realize this, my obedience in moving and getting plugged into a new area has become exciting! What other occupation allows for this and PAYS FOR IT?!?!?!? This has completely changed my mindset from an attitude of, “Ugh we have to move again” (and dreading that next set of curtain rods) to focus on the fact that we are so blessed to be called to serve in an organization that requires this! Yes, there may be some sacrifice involved along the way and it may not always be comfortable. But I’ve learned that it’s outside those comfort zones that we really grow. Jesus Christ is our example of the ultimate sacrifice, and by that I’m encouraged. Twenty-three years ago, my husband took an oath to lay his life down for others. And I took vows to love him and stand by him. It’s been well worth the “sacrifice” of this lifestyle. Despite all of the moves and stresses that accompany being a military spouse, I wouldn’t change a thing. The thought of living in one place for 23 years really sounds kind of boring to me!
Valerie and Bob Williamson served on our Military Ministry leadership team for two years. They now live in Charleston, South Carolina but they are still part of our family and we miss them dearly! Thank you Val and Bob for all that you do for God and His Kingdom!