Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Navy Wife's Wilderness

I don’t see how the woman in Wal-Mart knew I was a military wife with a husband on deployment.  I only had one kid in the cart, one kid in my back carrier and one kid dangling from the side and a look of young-mother-all-alone-in-the-world bedazzling from my saggy eyes.  How did she know? I speak sarcastically; of course it was very obvious.  She said hi to the squirrely kids and walked away.  About five minutes later she was back in front of me with tears in her eyes.  She said, “Thank you for all you do for our country and for all the sacrifices your family makes for us.”

That was the first time I really felt truly and completely a part of what my husband does when he deploys.  No longer did I feel like only my husband was protecting our country but I felt a part of it.  That woman’s tears did wonders for my broken heart.

When my husband leaves it’s like someone takes away one of my hands and then asks me to do a job that needs four.  It’s like half my mind is not capable of completing thoughts but the tasks at hand require my full brain capacity plus half of my husband’s.  It’s overwhelming, lonely, and so isolating….all the things I fear.  It’s unimaginably sad to see him walk away from my arms and onto a ship or an airplane knowing that tomorrow he won’t be there to squeeze my hand when I need it or stay up and watch a movie with me or put his arm around me in church.

It’s my wilderness time…it’s my Elijah time…

I always go back to Elijah’s story in I Kings 19 where God reveals Himself to Elijah in His still small voice.  During deployments all I hear sometimes are the earthquakes and the fire and wind ripping rocks from mountains just like the story goes…

I pray…I pray…and I pray…all I want to hear in this wilderness is that still small voice.

And I always do.  
 I am half way through this deployment and half way truly is the hardest part…but I hear His voice.  I really do.

God used ravens to feed Elijah in the wilderness and I’m so sorry to have to call you guys ravens but that’s the only way this analogy will work.  Thank you ravens for sustaining me in the wilderness.  Even an entire church cannot replace my husband but I thank you for all that you do. 

Military wives mainly need just two things: someone to step up and take over the occasional task that is usually done by the husband’s brain and someone to step up and go let the military wife rest her own brain for a while.  Thank you for being mindful of my brain.  It becomes very cranky and unmanageable when it doesn’t get its rest.

Another woman gave me a far different reaction then the first one I mentioned.  She was watching me lining up my kids and looked at me in shock and said, “He left you to take care of four kids by yourself?”  That did not give me the warm fuzzies but it does help me to point out that military wives do not need sympathy.  We chose this life knowing full well that deployments are inevitable.  I never want to feel sorry for myself.  That leads down the path of bitterness and every night eatings of crates of chocolate ice cream.  No, I prefer the first woman’s reaction to keep my chin up and a frequent reading of I Kings 19.

We each have our God-given wilderness…this one is mine…don't worry, I'm sure you'll get your own someday.

Through all the sleepless nights, and the PB&J dinners, and the misbehaving toddlers, and the broken cars, and broken faucets and the broken computers I can truly say that “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence.  If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.” Psalm 94:17-18


  1. i love you are such an amazing example and when i have my own children i can only hope to be half the mother and woman you are <3

  2. Wow...I think this gives me an insight into what my Mom went through. As a kid, I didn't ever truly appreciate what she dealt with when Dad was gone.It wasn't even until the deployments out of Lemoore that I was old enough to see her pain. She was so strong...and you are too Rachel, through the Lord of course! I totally agree with Abigail. Thank you for being a tremendous example of a godly wife and mother! Love you!