“Super Glue” for the Military Home

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. — Colossians 1:17

The story goes something like this:

A military family has just arrived at their new duty station. They’ve settled into temporary quarters and have begun to look at housing options. The mother takes one of the little children with her to the commissary where the commander’s wife spots her and decides to check on how the family is doing. In the course of the conversation, she asks, “Have you found a home yet?”  The child answers, “Oh, we have a home—we just haven’t found a house to put it in!”

There’s a lot of truth in that statement! The military family, at its best, is indeed a unit. And whether they are at an assignment for quite a length of time or are moving from place to place as duty demands—they cling to each other. They’ve learned to exercise flexibility and resilience, made possible by that wonderful WD-40 known as “sense of humor” combined with a hopeful attitude.  They extend grace to each other, knowing that the challenges of war-time duty can bring us all to the point of being “frazzled.” And they encourage each other to get through any and all situations.

What else can we say about the military family “unit”?

Each family is unique, but there are seven common elements which we can examine:

1. The family works as a “location” unit: When do we move? Where do we move? Do we move back to family-of-origin during deployments, or do we stay at the base/post for support? Do we buy or rent? Which school district do we want to live in? Do we live on base or in the local community? Do we try to stay together during an “unaccompanied tour,” even if it means that we are non-command sponsored, or do we stay state-side during the remote tour? The military family must consider these options, and which is best for their individual circumstances.

2. The family works as a “vocation” unit: Is this assignment necessary for a career opportunity, or would it be best to stay put? Does the at-home spouse work outside of the home, or stay-at-home? Do we need extra training, which might cost more money, to get expertise in a new area in order to provide for the family long-term? Do we need to consider home-schooling of our children because of location constraints or travel opportunities?

3. The family works as a “logistics” unit: How much furniture do we put in storage? Which car do we ship overseas? What cell phone plan gives us the best ability to communicate? Do we want to buy new appliances or used ones? How much money should we budget for the deployed spouse to have to spend? Are wills, powers-of-attorney, and insurance papers all up-to-date—with computer passwords shared? Do we have a list of emergency phone numbers available? Do we have a list of “go-to” people for home and auto repairs?

4. The family works as a “consistency” unit: Who is available to keep and explain medical records to each “new” doctor or medical facility at each move, or at each visit? Who knows special educational needs for each child, which must be followed at each new location? Who in the family is responsible for what chore? How do we communicate best with each other—by email, phone, letter? Are we consistent in letting each other know what is happening, offering help, meeting needs. . . . so that trust is built into our family? Who handles the discipline of the children during deployments–and how?

5. The family works as an “attitude” unit: Is each new challenge viewed as a crisis, or an opportunity to see God at work? Does the family walk a walk of faith. . . or of fear? Is the cup half-empty, half-full, or overflowing? Does cynicism reign, or confidence? Are our expectations of each other and each new situation in line with reality? Do we build each other up, or tear each other down? Do we have the attitude that each one of us is precious in the sight of God, or a burden? Is patience demonstrated? Is perspective put into each situation—that certain trials and troubles are for a season? Is the attitude of gratitude “built into” each day?

6. The family works as a “traditions” unit: Have we built into our family certain holiday traditions that provide security when everything else might be different? When half of the boxes are unpacked after a move, but the first batch of cookies comes out of the oven—does that signal that we are “home”? Is there a favorite movie, a favorite game, a favorite vacation spot. . . that holds memories which can be re-visited and provide enjoyment? Does the family traditionally look into the history of the new area into which we move? Are there patriotic traditions which continue in our family? Are successes or accomplishments celebrated a certain way—no matter what? Do we have devotional time once a day, or prayer time together, that happens everywhere we live?

7. The family works as a “loving” unit: Are mistakes met with blame or forgiveness? Is growth in knowledge and wisdom the desire for each family member? Do we listen to each others’ frustrations, and dreams? Are we quick to criticize, or quick to cheerlead? Does compassion and understanding rule the day, or bitterness and resentment? Is selfishness what we demonstrate, or can we serve each other daily, in humility? What church do we “plug into” in order to demonstrate spiritual gifts, worship, listen to the sound teaching of the Bible, and serve our Lord? Is gratitude expressed daily—for every breath and for every blessing? Is appreciation for each family member spoken and/or written? Are we kind to each other?

In so many instances it is the military spouse that holds these units together. The military spouse is the “super-glue,” the “home front,” the one who balances work and family demands, the “keeper of the stuff and the schedule,” the one who provides that all-important consistency, presents a positive attitude, keeps family traditions alive, and loves loves loves. If there were an official song for a military spouse, it would be “You are the Wind Beneath My Wings.” Most often, the military spouse is the Mom, but sometimes the Dad. . . . while other times both Mom and Dad are active-duty and must gently juggle (sometimes not so gently) all plates which are spinning a hundred miles an hour! Communication and cooperation must be at the forefront in order to keep the whole thing from falling apart!

But Who holds the military spouse together?

But Who holds the military spouse together? And Who ultimately holds every situation, every decision, every circumstance, every family together–the real “super-glue”? For that, we turn to Colossians 1:15-20 for this beautiful description of Jesus Christ, which includes: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (vs. 17) From the tiniest particle within the atom, to the grand expanse of the universe, Scripture tells us that Christ is supreme. And further in Colossians, we find my favorite marriage and family verse: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

Is Jesus Christ supreme in your home? Do you, as a family, go to Him in prayer and Scripture study for wisdom regarding assignments, career decisions, management of possessions, health care, attitudes, traditions, and how best to demonstrate love to each individual in the family?  Is your relationship with Jesus Christ the foundation for your relationships with others?

Take the time today, to voice your appreciation for your spouse and all they do to serve you, your family, your community, your country, and your Lord!  And thank the Lord for the precious gift of your spouse!

Questions to Share:

1. In what ways does your family operate well as a unit?

2. In what ways does your family not operate so well as a unit?

3. Pray for the Lord to hold your family together during deployments.

This article was used by permission from ExcellentorPraiseworthy.org, Cru’s devotional blog for military couples experiencing deployment.  Posted Monday and Thursday evenings, these articles offer hope and help to those serving–either at home or away–while geographically separated.