“I don’t know how you do it.”
During my 12 years as a military spouse, many civilian women made this comment about the transiency and unpredictability of the military lifestyle. Family life in the military is one of constant adjustment, cancellations, and flexibility.
Once, while my husband Ethan was away at training, we received orders to move and I had to pack up our entire home with our toddler, alone. Another time, Ethan deployed when our third child was only two months old. Not only did he return home to a daughter who didn’t recognize him, but we also had to learn to manage his PTSD.
I know I’m not alone in this. Each military wife has her share of obstacles to face and lessons to learn. (And I know military husbands face their own set of challenges.) Being a wife and mom is hard enough—how much more so with these added stresses? Thankfully, Scripture reminds us of a beautiful truth to help us grow during times of both blessing and burden: we have Christ in us (Phil. 4:12–13). When we meditate on God’s Word, pray continuously, and lean into our local church community, military wives and moms can grow spiritually in this challenging season of life.
Meditate on God’s Word
We all meditate and focus on something. It could be the news, our social media feed, podcasts, Netflix, or self-help books. Some of these may be helpful. But Scripture charges us to meditate on God’s Word day and night for a reason (Ps. 1). It guards us against sin, trains us in righteousness, offers encouragement when we feel downcast, gives us understanding amid uncertainty, and strengthens us in times of weakness (Heb. 3:1; Prov. 3:5–6). Surpassing all these things, Scripture teaches us about God and helps us grow in love for him.
As military wives, we must be particularly careful about guarding our hearts and minds.
As military wives, we must be particularly careful about guarding our hearts and minds. For me, that meant limiting my information intake. When my husband was deployed, instead of focusing on news in the regions of the world he was in, I discovered true blessing in meditating on Scripture. I traded sorrow for joy, worry for peace, and a lack of discipline for self-control when I filled my mind with biblical truth in a variety of ways. Each day presents a new opportunity to combat our plaguing thoughts and doubts by prioritizing God’s Word.
Many events and situations are out of a military wife’s control, but there’s one course of action she can take: prayer. Surrendering worry and doubt through prayer reminds us we’re not alone. It assures us that God never leaves, forsakes, or abandons us, and it provides a way to share intimately with him.
Praying also complements meditating on God’s Word. Knowing and studying God’s character results in praise. Examining his promises prompts us to rehearse them back to him. Reading historical narratives and seeing the sins of others reminds us to confess our sins. Studying how the prophets, priests, and kings depended on God encourages us to bring our burdens to him through prayer. Continual offerings of confession, thankfulness, praise, and petition reflect externally the internal faith we have in God.
Prayer not only connects us to God, but it also connects us to others. As military wives and mothers, we can pray for and with our children. We can invite our friends, family, and church community to pray with us for our husbands. Some military couples faced with deployment or long training schedules choose a specific time of day to pray “together” even if they are miles apart. Last-minute deployments, cancellation of assignment orders, trauma, or injuries to the spouse are all concerns we can bring to the Lord in prayer—and invite others to pray about too.
Lean into Local Church Community
Because a change of station typically occurs every two to four years, military life is one of transience. However, we’re still instructed to not neglect meeting together with other believers (Heb. 10:25). Additionally, God has given us spiritual gifts our local church needs for its upbuilding and edification (1 Cor. 12). In other words, assembling with and serving in the body are not optional commands.
Investing in a local church may feel like a burden to the military mom who has to wrangle her kids alone. But every Sunday and midweek gathering allows us to pause and remember our Lord. Through the local church, God grows his people spiritually, provides accountability, and protects us from isolation. Leaning into the church community helps military wives abandon any tendency toward isolation and acknowledge the reality that we are not alone.
Finding a church community made every duty station feel like ‘home.’
For me, finding a church community made every duty station feel like “home.” Even if fellow members didn’t understand the military lifestyle, they were the people who gave me a place to serve, held me accountable, delivered meals, shoveled snow, and watched my kids so I could attend doctor’s appointments. The needs of our family were known and met because we were active members in the local church.
“I don’t know how you do it,” people would say. Military life certainly brings challenging seasons. But the Lord has provided everything I need.