“This isn’t just a job for me. This is my calling, and I need you to share my calling.” As he described his commitment to the Army, my husband’s voice was filled with emotion. It grabbed my attention. Rob and I were attending an intensive marriage retreat before the first of three deployments to Iraq. God opened my eyes that day to an essential element of both Rob’s service in the military and our marriage.
When Rob shared his vision with me, I had been an Army wife for nearly eleven years—all of our marriage. I would have described myself as supportive of his career. I understood a fair amount about the military, had attended countless functions, and attempted to make the most out of each move. Wasn’t that enough? What else did he need from me?
A calling is defined as “an objective or task that somebody believes is his or her duty to carry out or to which he or she attaches special importance and devotes special care.” Accordingly, a professional calling goes beyond earning a living-it connotes a passion. When we view military service as a joint calling it alters our view of circumstances and challenges. Sharing a passion gives rise to a vision of something greater. Deployment is no longer something to be endured but a piece of a bigger picture.
I did not immediately embrace the idea of shared calling. It was a process. Initially I thought, “I love my husband, I am there for him, but the military is his calling not mine.” However, God began to open my eyes to a different outlook:
- He showed me that I possessed a critical and selfish spirit about the military. I had thought far more about how Rob’s career affected me than what it might mean to him. This attitude was sinful and had wounded Rob’s spirit.
- God revealed to me how integral a man’s profession is to his identity. When I criticized the military, I was criticizing Rob.
- God reminded me He had brought Rob and me together (Genesis 2:24). God had a purpose for our union-and it wasn’t just for our happiness.
- His Word instructed me that wives were created to be a man’s helpmate. In the Hebrew, the word for helper denotes a lifesaving counterpart. It’s interesting that Eve was not given a unique mission-she was there to assist Adam in the tasks God gave him. God designed wives to be instrumental in helping their husbands carry out their life’s mission. I was convicted that sharing Rob’s life meant also sharing his calling.
Sharing his calling required an attitude adjustment. I had to challenge my thinking regarding some core truths from God’s Word. Did I really believe my heavenly Father’s promises? I asked myself some tough questions. Can I:
- Release the plans I have for my life? (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Truly trust that God is working “all things together for my good?” (Romans 8:28).
- Give thanks in everything, viewing it as God’s will for me? (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- “Count it all joy” when I experience trials? (James 1:2).
- Hold my tongue when I want to criticize my husband’s profession? (James 3:3-9).
- Be “anxious for nothing” and instead pray with thanksgiving? (Philippians 4:6).
Believing God to be true to His Word, I chose to join Rob in his call to military service. Life has not magically become easier. His deployments to Iraq didn’t just fly by. And feelings of frustration haven’t disappeared. But I have a new-found desire to serve, love, and minister to the military community. I am far less irritated by and more supportive of the demands Rob’s duties place on him. My better attitude has also brought a surprise added benefit-an improved relationship with my husband!
Days at home without your spouse can be challenging even when you do share their calling to the military. Following are some ideas to help keep you focused:
- Have a vision for the deployment. What do you hope to accomplish personally, with your children, and in ministry?
- Look for ways to be involved with the military community. During one of our deployments a friend started a regular prayer night. All family members were invited to join us in praying for our spouses and Iraq.
- Pray for ministry opportunities. There are so many needs. Ask God to show you how you can serve others. It always helps to take your eyes off yourself.
- Stay informed about the location of your spouse’s deployment. Know about the challenges being faced so you can pray more effectively.
- Stay plugged into God, seeking Him daily.
- Practice gratitude daily for the ways God is blessing you.
- Be mindful of specific ways to support your spouse.
Anne shares her husband Rob’s calling at Fort Riley, Kansas where he is the Staff Judge Advocate. She will become the president of Protestant Women of the Chapel in 2011. Anne and Rob have three daughters.