As many of you already know, we are preparing for another separation. Jay will be leaving at the end of May to do a year-long tour in Korea.
Even though this is not our first separation, I don’t think it makes it any easier. As we struggle to work through minor details and major emotions over the next 6 weeks, I have been praying for a lot of grace.
During this time, I am also losing some of my awesome, supportive friends due to military moves. These are the guys and gals who stood by me during the last deployment when I was pregnant and hormonal. They drove me home from the hospital after having our baby boy. They prayed for me when Jay was lost in a sea of plane flights trying to get home to see our newborn.
These are the people that came and mowed my lawn, fixed my pipes, watched my kids, and ministered to my soul.
Needless to say I will miss them.
I know I still have plenty of great friends here. And I know I can be a blessing to others whose husbands are gone, who live alone, and who otherwise need ministering to.
And I am making new friends- new families that have come into my life through our homeschool group, our church, and our other activities. They are both military and non-military.
All this friend-making and losing has got me to thinking about how I can be a blessing to those who come and go in my life.
I know it all starts with my attitude.
Dressing the part
I love seeing pictures on Facebook of my friends when they go to a military ball. I have never been to one, for various reasons, but I love to see my friends happily enjoying their spouse and the eventful evening.
One thing I know about the military ball is that you have to dress up- aka wear appropriate clothes.
You obviously want to look formal when going to such a formal occasion. Your clothes speak for you- they are a visible manifestation of your inner attitude towards the event.
As a Christian, I need to be concerned about what clothing I present myself in towards my fellow military spouses. Not physical clothing, but spiritual clothing:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. -Colossians 3:12
If I am going to minister to my fellow Army wives, I need to wear the right clothing. God instructs me to:
Put on compassion
I need to be conscious of the needs and hurts of others. Instead of wallowing in my own loneliness and pain, I need to look outside my own circumstances and see where I can alleviate another’s distress.
And when times are going good for me- when my husband is home and we are enjoying life together- I can’t forget that others are not in the same boat.
I need to look around me and have compassion on others who are struggling.
Military life is like a boat ride. Sometimes you are riding smooth on a calm sea. But others might be battling those crazy waves and wind.
Put on kindness
Kindness is a step above compassion. Not only do we need to see where others are struggling and empathize with their pain- we need to do something about it.
Kindness is a heart-condition, but it is also an action.
God demonstrated his kindness toward us through his son Jesus- who healed the sick and blind, ate meals with the lowly, and died for mankind.
I need to think about ways I can show kindness. Can I bring a meal, watch their kids, or offer some kind of service?
Put on humility
Humility is not thinking poorly of myself- it is thinking highly of others. Unlike some television depictions of military wives, ministering to other spouses does not involve:
- being proud and arrogant
- being assertive and crass
- focusing on status, wealth, rank, or personal reputation
- lording over and overbearing
Jesus was our perfect example of humility. Philippians 2:4 explains it plainly: ”Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Put on gentleness
This word is also translated meekness. If I want to minister to another family, I need to be able to keep my cool. Meekness speaks of strength under control.
When others are hurting or struggling, I need to remember to be gentle with them. Too much of a good thing can still be harmful. I can be too involved, help too much, ask to many questions, or give too much advice.
One commentary explained meekness this way: “the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength.”
I need to listen to the Holy Spirit and let him be my guide when I am trying to help others in their time of need.
Put on patience
But if I want to truly obey God, I will also look to the needs of those who I don’t get along well with. (Matthew 5:44)
In order to minister to people that God puts in my path- no matter who it is or what they are dealing with- I need patience.
Sometimes I will get offended, angry, agitated, irritated, and otherwise rubbed the wrong way.
I need to put away my short-patience stick and gain long-suffering.
When a person is long-suffering, he can put up with provoking people or circumstances without retaliating. -Warren Wiersbe
I have to remember that I probably irritate people at times too. No-one had to help me in my times of need. But they chose to put their own lives aside in order to minister to me.
I need to be dressed in the right clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience so that I can be a blessing to others in the same manner.
And it is hard! Let me tell you- sometimes I don’t want to take time out of my busy life to go help someone. I don’t always have patience. It is so easy to procrastinate and put off something that you know you should go and help with.
What about you? What kind of clothes do you have on? Do they show you are dressed to minister to others?