I was dreaming about a mini-vacation with just my husband when the phone rang. I smiled. He was probably getting a break during this four-week separation and he was calling to say hello. His voice suggested otherwise.
One month later, my husband deployed to Afghanistan. My heart was broken and my plans were crushed. To say I was angry is an understatement. Not only was I angry with the Marine Corps for sending him away with just one month’s notice, but I was angry with myself for making plans. I should have known better than to assume our military life would continue in the way we had expected.
There is no denying that military life is hard. It is rare that military families are able to plan in advanced for much of anything. But lately I’ve been thinking about what would happen if I turned my focus from the negative aspects of this lifestyle and instead thought about what is good in it? What if there was a way, amidst the perpetual difficulties and frustrations, to find peace?
Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. […] And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV) When I struggle with my military life, I have a choice. I can choose to complain and remain miserable, or I can choose to focus on those things which are noble and praiseworthy and will lead us to peace.
There will always be something to complain about, but by changing our perspectives we can discover the blessings present in our lives. Here are some of the lovely things I try to focus on during the difficult times:
- When I feel overwhelmed by my tasks at home, I remember the selfless dedication our soldiers have for our country in order to maintain our safety and freedom. I have the opportunity to give my love and support to one of them so that he can carry out his duties. When I stay strong, he stays strong.
- When I am angry or bitter about how our plans have been interrupted, I think about virtue of patience and how good things come to those who wait. When the time finally comes to be together again, we will cherish it that much more.
- When I am struggling with the difficulties of deployment, I remember that I am slowly building strength and perseverance which will carry with me for the rest of my life.
-When I get frustrated about my husband’s demanding schedule at home, I remind myself that he is home and not deployed and am grateful for that.
- When I am anxious about moving to a new place and sad about leaving friends behind, I think about the ways in which people have touched my life in the past and the joy it has brought me to have known them. New places bring the opportunity to meet those people who will open new doors or become friends for life.
- When I am sad for my children because they are missing their daddy, I think about how they, too, are learning perseverance and patience and the importance of family. Our family bond grows stronger the more we rely on each other during the difficult times.
-When I find myself complaining about the kids, I think about how lucky I am to be able to stay home with them and remember how much more difficult it is for my husband when he can’t even see them or hug them for months at a time.
-When I feel completely overwhelmed by life in general, I count my blessings. I thank God for the good health of my family, for food in our bellies and a roof over our heads, for our family and friends, for each new day I am given, and for the experience of living a military life.
When I turn my focus to these things, I find that my mind becomes calmer and my heart becomes peaceful. It is not always easy to think this way, but the best we can do is keep trying. The more we try, the easier it will be find those things which are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.” And the more we can find these things in our lives, the more God’s peace will fill us.
What things can you find in your life which are true, noble, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy? I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Lisa White is a Marine wife and mother of two. She has been through three deployments and four moves in her eight years as a military wife. She has a Master's degree in Health Education, but has spent the past five years being a stay-home mom and learning about life through deployments and mommyhood. She has a passion for writing and uses it as a way to share her experiences with other military wives in her blog, A Chance to Bloom. Her goal is to provide inspiration and encouragement for making the most of military life.