by Catherine Fitzgerald
Dear Civilian Friend,
The other day you said to me, “I always want to minister to you, but I don’t know how.” I know I haven’t made it easy on you to figure out the “how.” Blame it on Rosie the Riveter and her “I can do it all” attitude or perhaps Lifetime’s Army Wives and their ability to solve all the drama of military life in 60 minutes or less. Blame it on the pride that comes with this lifestyle, constantly whispering in my ear, asking for help is showing weakness. It’s not fair to you. Or me. Because you want to help and I need it. So here it is. Everything I wished you knew but I can’t seem to tell you.
First and foremost, I need your prayers. Pray for strength and endurance during yet another separation from the love of my life. Pray for my kids because they are struggling without daddy right now. No matter how old they are, no matter how many deployments they’ve been through, every separation is hard on them. And nothing hurts a momma more than to see her kiddos hurting and knowing there is nothing I can do. Pray for my husband. Pray for his safety. Pray for his mind to be able to process the ugliness of war. Pray for our marriage, that it can endure the trials and temptations that come with every departure. Pray for our country and the leaders in charge of putting our husband and father in harm’s way. Just above all else, pray for me, friend.
You should know that I probably won’t ask for much. In fact, you should probably just adopt a “don’t ask, just tell” policy with me. I am coming to watch your kids Monday night. I am coming to mow your lawn next Tuesday. This will be much more effective with me than a blanket “Let me know if you need anything.” Like I said, blame it on Rosie the Riveter or this stubborn pride of mine, but I probably won’t ask you for the help I so desperately need. And if I do, know that it took A LOT for me to get to that point so never make me feel bad about it because I may not ask again. I know the air filter was really dirty and should have been cleaned months ago, but I’m just doing the best that I can, a day at a time.
I need you to walk with me through this deployment. How this translates in real, practical terms is different for each one of us but try and figure it out. Many days I am treading water and can feel like I am about to go under. It may be a break from the kids. Sometimes a trip to the grocery store alone can feel like a day at the spa. Come give my kids a bath and help me get them to bed and I will feel like a new woman. Carry the baby asleep in the carseat to my car and the burden will literally feel lighter. Take my trash can to the curb every Wednesday night so I don’t awake in a panic at midnight and have to run outside to do it. Invite me for dinner so the nights don’t feel so lonely. Ask me to spend the holidays with you because I am so far from my family. Drop off dinner so I don’t have to cook one night. Help fix that leaky faucet so I don’t have to figure out which plumber won’t rip me off in this town I am new in. Come clean my bathrooms because I can never get to them. Mow my yard without even asking. Change the oil in my car, something my husband usually does, so that I don’t have to lug the babies to Jiffy Lube. Watch my kids while I go to the doctor so I don’t have to pay for another babysitter. Offer to come stay the night so I can sleep soundly and not jump at every creak I hear. Just come over and chat, I missing having someone to talk to. Listen to me and you will probably figure out quickly some ways you can show me you care.
Keep encouraging me. Bear with me through this whole deployment. It is like a death. At the beginning, the offers of help and words of encouragement are plentiful, but as I near the end, weary and tired, when I need it the most, they trail off. Remind me of God’s word and His promises. I can become consumed in missing my man and I need to constantly be told that God has a purpose and plan for me in this life just as much as he has one for my husband. Help me find it because sometimes my vision gets so clouded with tears.
I know you don’t every understand everything about my life. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s taken years for me to learn this many acronyms. I want you to understand more and I don’t mind explaining. You don’t have to pity me, but I want your empathy. If you see me huddling with my fellow military wives, don’t think I don’t want to let you in. It’s just that we speak the same language and we have seen each other at the lowest points so we are bonded in an incredible way. That doesn’t mean I don’t desire to have a close bond with you too. But, they are just my default. You can offer me a perspective outside of this life. I need that.
Please know I am grateful for all your help. Though I may not write you a thank you card for each and every act, know I so appreciate it. I know I can get wrapped up in my own hardships and sometimes I forget to ask how I can pray for you. I am sorry. I know God’s comfort so I should be comforting you in your difficulties with the same comfort I have received. I need to work on that. And I need to help you with your needs as well and use the gifts and talents He has given me in ministering to you. Just because my husband is gone, doesn’t mean I can’t serve you. I know it is better to give than to receive.
We are not that different. My husband just took a job where the uncertainty of life is simply in our faces all the time. You sometimes can pretend you are in control of your life. I know I am not. God can use that as a launching pad for an incredible faith and trust in Him. Or Satan can use that to send me into a whirlwind of fear. Help me out of the spiral of anxiety if you see me spinning in it.
I’m glad I was able to tell you all the things I never did before. I hope this helps you figure out how to minister to me. I should have told you sooner, but I just didn’t know how. I need you more than ever these days as the deployments keep coming and the challenges get harder and harder with each moment. Our family can’t do this calling without you so thank you for noticing us and caring enough to show us we aren’t alone in this.
Thank you, friend.
A Military Wife
Catherine Fitzgerald is the proud wife a U.S. Marine. She was a contributor to Faith Deployed…Again and wrote the group study guides for Faith Deployed and Faith Deployed…Again. She currently lives just outside of Wilmington, North Carolina. Her husband is a CH-53 Helicopter pilot and together they have two children, Grace and Asher. She currently leads a ministry called Operation: Hope Front that ministers to the needs of fellow military families in her area through her local church. Her family also serves in the college ministry, where she has found an endless supply of babysitters and lawn mowers for every deployment.
When she’s not changing diapers, chasing her first born, or doing ministry, she loves to cook, party plan, shop, and write. Her greatest joy in military life is seeing the gospel transform the lives of her military sisters through the application of scripture to their daily walk.