In honor of National Military Spouse Appreciation Day,
which occurs each year in May, members of our Legacy Team gathered our thoughts on what the words strength and surrender have meant for us on our individual journeys through military life.
Kimberly Bacso, Managing Editor
In over twenty years as a military spouse, I have become a person who can be happy anywhere and make the most of any situation—from multiple overseas accommodations (some better than others) to three different dwelling spaces in the Mojave Desert, to assignments that lasted only a school year, to the iced-over rural mid-West, to my heart's home in the West where the mountains meet the sea.
More significant still, I have raised a daughter who can do the same. We spent spring break touring college campuses. The day is soon coming when she will decide for the first time where she wants to land for an unprecedented four years. We weighed the pros and cons together after each campus tour, but the bottom line was always, "I could be happy there."
As our ETS date nears, I have to let go of all the things that might have been. My husband and the friends we went to school with have talked about how easy and routine their jobs are after more than twenty years. They just know things and are paid more for expertise than long hours worked. I am still finding my way, learning, trying on new titles, and climbing. I'm working twice as hard and earning half as much.
On our great spring break tour of Mountain West colleges, our daughter, contemplating her path of study, asked us how much we would be making if my husband hadn't joined the Army and I hadn't left my job as an accountant with a Fortune 100 company. The answer was a lot more. That's hard when we have to level set on what our options are when military life is in the rear-view mirror. I may be somewhat spoiled by the house with the water and mountain view that we're "vacationing" in for two years.
But, if you ask me whether I would change our choices, I would say no. We've been on the most wonderful adventure!
Courtnie Williams, Social Media Community Manager
I've been better about sifting through priorities to find the 2-3 that are truly important for the given season/month/week. In such a busy world, it's easy to feel like everything is a priority but when you take the time to really evaluate them it'll surprise you.
I'm learning to surrender my fears and previous bad habits around communication. Communication is so important in the little time we do have together that I shouldn't be worried about sounding needy, nor do we have time to deal with passive-aggressive remarks.
Lindsay Swoboda, Guest Editor + Course Creator
Life as a military spouse has helped me to gain the strength of flexibility and to focus on developing a deeply rooted hope. As our time as a military family stretches on, I can see the beauty in the challenges we faced. I fight for the wisdom we have gained, and sometimes, it is a fight to continue to adapt and keep my heart open. I have also gained strength in recognizing my own anxiety, and seeking help so that I may live in health.
My surrender has been that I have opened myself to change, even (especially) when it has been painful. I used to think I could control aspects of my life, clutching on to certain things so tightly, but good things can come in letting go. When I can surrender and let go of control, there is a lesson on the other side, a new opportunity opens, and while this process takes time and patience, I work to breathe into it now instead of resisting it.
After all the places we have experienced, I see multiple paths ahead, many different ways to live, and dreams to believe in. I've gained the strength to surrender to a life that can change, and the knowledge that instead of that change breaking me, it will build me up in time.
Jessica Fountain, Marketing Director
With over four moves, I have felt and known life-giving connections with those in my community. I have learned that in order to form close-knit friends, I need to extend myself first, open my door, and make my table bigger. I have formed villages of people from each move by simply giving myself permission to create meaningful connections. Yes, there have been seasons of loneliness, seasons of hurt, and seasons of disconnection. Knowing everyone has a story, staying curious and open with where I might be entering theres', and carving out smaller pieces of quality time have provided me with opportunities to deepen relationships no matter the location.
Navigating through moves and seasons searching for belonging I have surrendered my expectations and weight of being "that best friend." For so long I have told myself the lie that my worth is tied with what I can do for others. I needed to be the best friend that would drop everything to be there, I needed to be the YES girl. Then motherhood came, military moves, deployments, and I was faced with hard limitations. I was entering seasons where I could no longer give and therefore questioned, "Am I still worthy of deep friendship when I can't show up in the same capacity?" I have realized (with therapy) that just because a chapter looks different from another does not mean it is not meaningful. I am surrendering certain expectations to allow myself to ask for help and build new rhythms of belonging that honor the season I am in.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day History
The history of Military Spouse Appreciation Day begins with President Ronald Reagan in 1984. In Proclamation 5184, dated April 17, 1984, Reagan recognized the importance of honoring the sacrifices made by military spouses. Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day part of Military Appreciation month in 1999. The date was finally standardized by The Department of Defense by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day as “Military Spouse Appreciation Day.”
Turning the Page
As you reflect on your own experiences within this military life, here are some reflection prompts to help spark what the words strength and surrender mean to you.
What are some of the strengths that you have gained as a military spouse?
What can you uncover that you have surrendered?
Can you find a thread of hope that links your strength and surrender together?
And if you are currently in a season of self discovery, here is a great list of books to add to your nightstand.
What have you uncovered from your own individual journey as a military spouse or service family member? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation.