Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. The fact this day is set aside so close to Mothers Day is without irony. Certainly there are many men who are military spouses, many left at home while their wives deploy to faithfully care for a home and children, but the vast majority of the spouses are women. Many of course are mothers. Regardless, the praise of the husbands or wives, is often, though certainly unintentional, neglected amidst the high praise the service member spouse receives. What many people today don’t understand is in the military family, the greatest battles are often fought by the spouse at home, not by the one on the front lines.
When a military spouse is left at home while the other is deployed one of the biggest struggles it is not how to manage as a single parent or single adult. They are not single, merely alone. What they do have to struggle with, on top of managing a house, kids, maybe a job, bank accounts, bills, dead car batteries, leaky faucets, and snakes in the garage, are the emotional and intimacy issues that come from being alone. The one they love is still in their life, but just out of reach. There are phone calls and Skype but these do not provide the emotional security a physical touch can assure. Then there is also the constant worry that while they are not single, the next knock at the door could be word telling them they suddenly are. The military spouse is a hero too.
Not to neglect the men who may stay at home while their wives deploy but with Mother’s Day just around the corner it seems fitting to focus today on the women. Take a moment, and read the words of Proverbs 31:10-30,
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
This year, with the potential of another deployment looming, probably more than ever before I read these verses with the military spouse in mind; the military mom struggling to maintain a home while their husband is away. The work the Proverbs 31 woman does is certainly impressive and maybe to envied. To think about her maintaining her house, home, and reputation while alone would elevate her character all the more. Substitute husband for wife in these verses, he for she, him for her, should you choose. Nevertheless, could you live up to this image of an honorable spouse, especially alone?
I recognize the difficulty of being in a military family. I do not believe there has ever been a time I have been gone where something has not gone wrong at home. A leaky roof, car trouble, broken bones, and a host of other problems have somehow found a way to target our home while I am away. I recognize, though it is difficult to truly empathize with, the frustration and stress my wife has had to contend with. I have heard it in her voice; the stress, frustration, and anxiety of dealing home alone. And while I truly appreciate all she has done and sacrificed, there will never be enough words to thank her. There will never be enough words to thank any military spouse. I can echo the praise of verse 29, however, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Realizing most of you are not in a military family, this Mother’s Day I urge you, challenge you, to take a moment, and express your gratitude to a military mom (or dad). Do as verse 30 challenges us to, “Honor her for all that her hands have done”. Military wives and mothers face challenges most households never will. For days, weeks, months, and sometimes years at a time they must assume responsibilities and roles never meant for just one parent. They do so with often very little help and certainly very little gratitude.
Find a military wife and mother and adopt them. Pray for them, care for them. Cut their grass, change the oil, cook them dinner, take them to lunch or maybe watch the kids and give them a day at the spa. Show them the appreciation they deserve but so seldom ever receive. Just as our service men and women on the front lines need a break occasionally, so do the wives and mothers on the homefront. After all, they are serving too. Honor them for all they do.