I never envisioned myself as a military wife. In fact, I remember clearly stating to myself and others that I would never marry a man in the military. I wasn’t about that life. Why would anyone willingly choose a life so entangled with change, struggle, and sacrifice? No, thank you. Simple and predictable was my chosen path.
But God. He had other plans for me.
Falling in love with a Marine reservist seemed to be safe middle ground. At least I wouldn’t have to move or uproot my life. Adventure was never for me. Family, babies, and the cozy comfort of my familiar life was more my speed.
However, the ink wasn’t dry on our marriage license when the conversations began about rejoining the military. My husband getting laid off from his civilian job 2 weeks after our first son was born was the tipping point. We needed financial security and a place where my husband felt he belonged. I was tossed into military life, excited but scared to death.
It didn’t take long before we were loading up our U-Haul truck, heading east to our first duty station. Weeks led to a few short months when the Big “D” word came through my front door.
Deployment. 12-18 months. He was gone before our son turned 2.
As a new military wife determined to thrive in this life, I went in full force. I volunteered with the FRG. I attended the meetings and often found myself sitting in strange living rooms talking to new women about a life I knew nothing about.
These women seemed to have it all figured out. They were strong, beautiful, and seemed to move through this life with ease. They knew the lingo, the training cycles and how to navigate the weird medical system that was Tricare.
I desperately wanted to feel like those women looked. I wanted to be strong and independent. I wanted to talk and share about military life with confidence, I wanted to feel comfortable in a life that didn’t feel so comfortable. Being a new military wife was hard, but I knew if I “pulled up my big girl panties” and pushed through, I could make it in this life.
No one ever told me about Murphy and his terrible, no good law. You know the one where anything that can go wrong will go wrong, specifically during a deployment. There was no amount of strength that could keep me moving forward as the struggles began pouring down on me.
By the 9-month mark, I was in the depths of finals week, raising an exceptionally needy toddler and facing the hard reality that we were going to be homeless in less than 30 days. At no fault of our own, our rental property was being foreclosed on and there were no suitable homes available to move into. Fear consumed me as I faced the harsh reality that I wasn’t strong enough to fight this battle.
All my attempts to find new housing, secure a pack out, and provide for my family had failed. I had given everything and failed. I just wasn’t strong enough. I was nothing like the brave and confident military wives that had befriended me.
I will forever remember the moment I fell on the floor in my bathroom, crying out in complete desperation and fear. The deployment had broken me. I laid on the cold bathroom floor for what felt like hours, unable to breathe. Tears came that never seemed to run out. Deployment was so hard. I was scared, weary beyond belief, and angry at this life I was living.
It was at that moment I gave it all over to God. My attempt to hold on and fight through my struggles had failed, every effort made had come back empty. God was my last resort. I cried out to Him and begged Him for help. There was nowhere else to go.
I look back now, 12 years later, and recognize that breakdown as the turning point in my life. It was the moment where I learned that I was strong, but not in my own strength. I am strong because God is my source of strength. After that day, God came in. He moved mountains and made a way. He provided a wonderful townhome, a military paid pack out, and a community of women to help care for my toddler so I could unpack our new home and ace my finals.
Three months later I welcomed home my soldier, tired but strong.
I have learned over the years that by myself, I will fall. I will make mistakes, stumble and crumble under the stress of this life. But when I invite God into my struggles, He renews my strength. He fights my battles and allows me to experience peace in the process. Where God was once my last resort, He is now my first and most important choice.
I can thrive when I have Jesus on my side. I can face the struggles on this military life knowing that no matter what happens, who lets me down, or what Murphy’s law has in store for me, I am never alone.
I am strong, because God is the source of my strength. I can do this life and you can do. We are strong, but we are stronger when we have Jesus and each other. We are truly stronger together.