Dependent: A Military Special
Written by: Kalyn
Dependent. It is a word you are quickly associated with when you marry into the military. You, as a spouse or loved one, attain the label of “dependent” to your soldier. This term marks your military ID, your insurance, your title, etc. for the duration of your military journey. As an army wife, 17 years into this journey with my solider, I have always found this term incredibly ironic. Dependent: “to rely on or require the aid or support of another”. In many ways that is true. You depend on your spouse in a marriage. You depend on your soldier’s military position, often for financial means in the household or for insurance benefits the military provides. The irony of it however, seems to scream at you, when you are facing a twelve-month deployment, are six months pregnant and the sole leader of your household- working, lugging the trash out each week and checking the oil in your car. You don’t feel very much like a “dependent” on the nights when you find the basement has flooded; there’s four inches of standing water and your soldier is on the opposite side of the world unable to answer a call or email. Oh, the many MANY times that I have sat on the floor and cried, thinking this was anything but a dependent relationship with the military.
Yet, it was those moments, on the floor in a puddle of tears, that I realized that I was never alone. There was another in the midst of this relationship. Another, who was with me through each lonely night, every baby appointment I went to alone, every dead car battery, solo holiday and lengthy countdown. Jesus. The One who is with me always. He is ever faithful and I am DEPENDENT on Him. That perspective changed everything.
Our second deployment was the doozy for me. I was pregnant and chronically ill, no longer blissfully unaware of the trials of deployment and realizing that I would most likely deliver and bring a newborn home alone. I knew I had a choice; be miserable and loathe the months to come, or surrender the struggle to the Lord and place it in His hands. In faith and to be honest, desperation, I chose the latter. I chose to be dependent- fully dependent- on Jesus.
I could share endless accounts of His faithful love and provision for me over the years, but perhaps my favorite testimony was the ending to that second deployment. Being so ill while pregnant, the hospital sent multiple red cross requests to my husband’s unit. Each time, they were denied. I lost hope of him being able to come home for our daughter’s birth and instead made plans for facetiming and transitioning home without him. Ten days before she was born, I received a call at 3 am. It was my soldier calling from an airport in Germany saying he was on his way! A visiting commander had come through his base and signed off the request. The Lord had made a way. He arrived a day after my due date and nine days later, our miracle baby was born.
Many think that deployments and separation are the hardest parts of military life. While some of that is true, it is what follows deployments that I find the most difficult. Reintegration can be the make it or break it phase. It is one thing to learn to live independently from each other while apart, but it is an entire separate battle to learn to become a unit and become dependent on each other again. This can be even more difficult with children. The spouse that has been away often envisions home life to be exactly as they left it, while the spouse who has been living solo and parenting solo has had to adapt and change the usual routines. Tensions and confusion pop up amid the joyful and emotional reunions. Small issues seem to become huge mountains. PTSD rears its ugly head- both for the returning soldier and the family. In my experience, the months that follow reunion, those are the hardest moments of them all.
I can say with absolute certainty, that if it was not for my ever-faithful Lord standing in the gap for us, my husband and I would have become another statistic of military marriages ending in divorce. The weeks, months, and years of continuously learning to live apart from each other and then reintegrating back to a family unit has its toll. Each time, the Lord has been so faithful to walk us through deliverance and lead us back to truth and dependency on Him. It is His role in our lives that give such hope for our journey.
Military life is not all struggles and trials of course. There are amazing opportunities to travel the world, explore new cultures, learn how to be self-sufficient and truly evaluate yourself as an individual. We have made amazing lifelong friends- battle buddies as I call them. There are so many aspects of military life that I am truly grateful. Among them, are the trials themselves. Do I love the endless schools, deployments, and training? NO!!! Yet, I have learned to appreciate them, take from their lessons, and delve deeper into my dependency on Jesus. I know that no matter what we endure, He is there. He is faithful. He will never leave me or forsake me.
That is my hope for any of you who read this, military or otherwise. I pray that you are able to step into whatever season of life thrown at you- deployment, new parenthood, transfer of duty stations, whatever your impending trial is… I pray you see it as an opportunity to be fully and completely dependent on your Savior. He will meet you there, on the bathroom floor in a puddle of tears, in the basement with 4 inches of standing water, in three feet of snow with a dead car battery… He will meet you there and His grace is enough. His provision is perfect. His timing is never late. He will meet you there and hold your hand while you walk through the valley. When you finally reach the mountain top, I challenge you to look back and acknowledge how far you have come. Remember the lessons and remember the pain He took and worked for your good. Remember them, and let them become your testimony, your anthem as you lead others to the same revelation. You can surrender it all, trusting that He is your Father and you are safe as His dependent!
Blessings my friends!
May the grace and peace of Jesus be upon you.