Family Brokenness

The Calling of a Military Spouse

Author: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brendon O'Dowd, USAF (Ret.)

Photo by The National Guard is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Second place. At least that’s what it feels like sometimes. Deep down you know your spouse loves you but right now it’s not so easy to see. Deployments, exercises, and long work hours have stretched you to your limit and you’re not sure how much more you can take. It’s at times like these that you need to remember your calling as a military spouse.

Remember your Calling

First, remember being a military spouse is hard work. You are suddenly and frequently forced to be the solo decision-maker when your spouse is away. You must take control of the family, and then welcome your spouse back into the decision-making process upon his or her return. If you have children, this means that you spend a great deal of the time as a single-parent. There is rarely the support you need to help pick up the slack because you live too far away from extended family to get immediate help.

Second, remember that being a military spouse requires you to constantly re-prioritize your life. You have your own priorities and dreams but moving every few years requires you to be flexible with them. A PCS compels you to find a new job, new friends, and develop new routines. And dual-career and military-to-military marriages will most likely require one of you to put your priorities and dreams on hold for a time.

You may think walking away would be easy, but that decision comes with a high cost. What is critical for you in times like these is to remember your calling. You have a special place and role in helping defend this nation. Your support role may not earn you a military medal or decoration, but it’s just as vital. In fact, the calling of a military spouse is like the calling we have as Christians.

Priorities in the Bible

At the end of Luke, chapter 9, Jesus deals with three recruits, and the interactions between Jesus and the disciples shed light on the calling of a Christian military spouse. In the first interaction, a man approaches Jesus and says he wants to follow Him. Jesus warns this man that following Him can lead to rejection and having no place to call home. Similarly, military life is costly and can feel nomadic at times, but it also leads to unspeakable joy, purpose, and meaning, especially with Christ at the center of it all.

In the second interaction, Jesus asks another recruit to follow Him, but this person has other priorities—family priorities. Like the military, Jesus is asking this person to re-prioritize his important family obligations for Kingdom business. This is not a command to neglect God-given responsibilities, but a reminder to organize all things in our life with God-shaped priorities.

The final interaction has another recruit asking to follow Jesus. He tells him to let go of his family and dedicate his life to God’s Kingdom. Military spouses know how important extended family can be during difficult times, but in the first century, family was everything—a life line, social security, and community. Letting go of family can mean letting go of everything, but Jesus promises the deeper connection with Him will make the sacrifice pale in comparison.

Military spouses, thank you for your sacrifice so that others may have freedom and peace. May you see your calling as vital to our country. And may you let your Christian calling be the foundation for your military calling.

If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.

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