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The Strength To Let Go
By Tammie Smith

"You’re leaving again? How can this be? How can we be a family with the head of the household always away? How long will it be this time?"

These are questions that every military wife must ask at one time or another. I have asked these questions often before. Sometimes it is hard not to let the feelings of hurt and abandonment take over when my spouse leaves for another deployment.

My husband has been deployed over half of our seven-year relationship. I know each time he leaves, I must let him go. This is his job, career, and his life. The army bug bit my husband long before I met him. I knew when I married him that I would be spending many days, weeks, and months alone. We have never been together for our anniversaries.

He feels that it is his duty to serve his country with honor, pride, and love. Seeing him all decked out in his military uniform, I am always struck with a surge of pride. Not everyone is willing to walk away from everything they love to go to another country.

I never dreamed I could be a military wife. Most days I am both mother and father to my children, since my husband is somewhere else. When my husband is home, we share the responsibility of the home and the kids. When he is away, it all falls on me. I have to be the enforcer, care-giver, and the playmate. God has a way of giving us the abilities we need at the time. I was not always the best parent, doing my fair share of yelling, crying and groaning, but God was always faithful to send me a friend or help when I needed it most.

Learning to let go of my husband took time and patience. God made man and woman to cleave together and be one. Being one with someone that is a million miles away is extremely hard. We have learned how to grow closer, even while we are so far apart.

Last year my husband was gone for eleven and a half months. During this time, I only saw him once and that was through a conference call. We could not talk on the phone at various times. Some weeks I could chat with him daily, but at other times it was once a week.

I had to learn to be independent, but still submissive to my husband. The household decisions fell to me. I have always gone to my husband for advice before making big decisions. When he is away and we are unable to talk, this responsibility falls solely to me. I have to try to make the right decision, the one I believe he would make if he were home.

Without God in my life I would never have endured the hardships of this past year. God gave me the ability to step out of my comfort zone and embrace my trials. I am not saying it was an easy year, but without God giving me the ability to survive it could have been worse.

God gives us the ability to cope with the situations he has placed us in. Through him I came through the year with a stronger bond to my husband, my God, and my friends. Where I am weak; He is strong. What I am unable to do; He can. It is amazing how able we can be when we have God on our side.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:21 NIV)
Tammie Smith is a US army wife, mother, and writer living in Germany. She uses her past experiences as a mother and a military wife as an inspiration for her writing. Tammie can be contacted via the Your Letters page of this magazine.

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I learned that although I am normally impatient and God made me wait, His answer to my prayers came at the right time--God's time. I prayed for something to be added to my life to bring peace, healing and comfort; something I can call my own (my writing). After being home raising two kids for twelve years, this was the first year I would start living a little for me. God brought writing into my life at a time where I could devote as much attention as I wished. (Joanne Malley)

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