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Fathers Away on a Mission: Part 3

July 8, 2015

In the last couple of weeks, we have looked at great men of God and their families.

When my husband left for two deployments, he was where he needed to be. God gave him that assurance. My husband told me this was what our boys needed to become men. I would try to remember.

What should a wife do while her husband is gone?

During his absences, my husband would say that my job was harder than his. I had to do all that I normally did at home, as well as everything he normally did. How did I do it?

RESCHEDULE

I would reschedule things so the hole that he left wouldn’t be so big. Bedtime rituals were the hardest. We read a lot of books. I also put the children to bed early so the day would be finished.

REFOCUS

Missing him was not the only problem. Whenever he left, something major always went wrong.

A dog killed a pig and I had to finish butchering it. The water pump stopped working. Rattlesnakes visited.

We were guaranteed to have problems. I just waited to find out what kind.

I could respond two ways: blame him for leaving me alone, or recognize that God was giving me the grace I needed for each hardship.

RE-TRAIN

I could not replace the boys’ need for their dad. When he called, he would correct or encourage one of the boys to adjust his attitude. I don’t know what he said, but his few words were enough to refocus them. We all needed those phone calls to keep us grounded.

I found projects that kept us productively busy and tired enough to sleep at night, sometimes. We mixed cement and laid bricks for a retaining wall. We carefully measured the cement and water with my kitchen measuring cup. Later, as we learned to wing it, the wall progressed.

The boys built a metal fence, painted the house, put in a milking stall, built a chicken coop, a goat house, a dog house, and extended the barn. They were learning new skills, how to work, perseverance and satisfaction. They were becoming men.

I depended upon the older boys to lead the younger in ways that their dad normally would.

Joey prayed from our sons' births that they would be leaders among men. Through this, they were being trained.

RE-COMMIT

It became easy to constantly wish my husband was home. But that was the first step toward discontent. That was not where God had put me, at this moment. By wishing, whining, and willing, I focus on what God should do for me, not what He has done. Contentment comes with thankfulness for what I have now. God’s grace enables that thankfulness, but I must take steps to be thankful.

My husband shared how he was able to talk with soldiers struggling, hurting, asking questions…his ministry became mine as I would pray for the seed that he planted. I was his help-meet even while away.

RE-UNITE

When I knew my husband as leaving soon, I tended to distance myself from him, so it wouldn’t hurt so much when he was gone. I had to make a conscious effort to meet his intimate needs before he left. The world is not family friendly. Help to tie those strings close to his heart for him to want to return.

My husband continues to have weekend drills once a month, at least. When he is jumping from planes and out on the field, soldiers have told him, “Your wife loves you.” They have never met me. How can they tell? I simply send him snacks for the weekend. It’s the little caring things that make a difference.

Sending cards or notes reminds him that my heart is with him. Many soldiers my husband knew never received mail from their family. Words on paper tie to his heart.

Some have asked, “How do you get your wife to do things for you?” He doesn't. I respect him like a king.

When things are not going well before a soldier leaves, things can’t improve when he is away. Absence magnifies problems.

REACQUAINT

The hardest time for me was when my husband came home. Yes, I want him home. But now he is back, my schedule has to be adjusted to accommodate his needs, his schedule, his ideas. (It’s called submitting—the longer he is gone, the harder it is. I’ve been making the decisions. I’ve been solving the problems.)

When my husband asks, "Why is the barn like this?", I must watch my attitude. I correct problems differently than he does. I fix with duct tape and lattice. It restrains the pig so he’s not eating my roses. It worked while he wasn’t here to fix it. Now he can fix it better. (Do you see where this can lead?)

It doesn’t get better after more absences. The duct tape and lattice now keep the cow, dog and chickens in, too… The property looks rather “red-neck” as my son would say. (Now the boys fix the fence without my knowing that it needed fixed—wonder why?)

That is just one example. The difference in problem solving shows up in strange places. My husband accepts what I have to do to make things work, but that does not mean he likes it. I feel threatened if he says too much; after all, I was just surviving when he was gone. So the re-establishment of roles and the need for grace and mercy escalates.

RENEW

Not all fathers are called away for ministry. But they do spend a lot of time at work. Staying at home with little children can be weary, tiring, draining, and not rewarding (for a long time). Remember, as his help-meet, you enable him to do his job, because you do your job.

If he must worry about discipline, because you wait for him to deal with all the trials of the day, then he is doing your job and his job.

When he comes home every day to clean the kitchen, make dinner, clean the house, or whatever, then he is doing your job.

Each couple must determine what daily and weekly chores are expected of each person. Do not use your husband as a messenger boy to run your errands. Yes, you are tired, but you are his help-meet, not his director of how to use his time. Some husbands enjoy grocery shopping, but if he is doing all the shopping, then he is still not home. I would rather spend my time doing the errands, so my husband can spend his time at home with me. But again, each couple must work out what each person should do.

My husband tells the story of an engineer at NASA, engrossed in the workings of space and time. He is essential for the mission, crucial for success. He is important. When he comes home, his wife tells him to take out the trash. He is abruptly reminded that his life has the dirt of the earth, too. Wives, let’s be gentle with how much he must wallow in it.

While he is at home, make your home a haven for him, where he can rest from the battles of the world, where he can renew his mind, heart, and soul, not tackle all the mud and diapers that you survived from the day.

God has called children into families, yet He calls fathers on missions. Paul said, “My beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

Did you catch that this is for “His good pleasure?”

Is it significant that the next verse says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.” (Philippians 2:14-17)

Do you feel alone in your work for God? Is your husband gone a lot?

Do not grumble.

Hold to the Word.

Your sacrifices are seen by God who gave your husband his mission.

That same God is there for you, too.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 



 
How do  you support your husband as he is away on a mission?
What do you do to survive while he is gone?
 

Excellent Sonya!

Thanks for this article. Good thoughts, and encouraging words. Great reminder for me about enabling my husband to do the mission God has given him, by doing my job at home, even when it is lonely and overwhelming. Often I find myself having my boys do things that I "wish" my husband would have time to do. But you are right. This is part of God's plan for them to become men. And to be fair, my husband does do the grocery shopping! (I plan the menus and list. He goes to the store.)

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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