How I wish that I was sitting across from you, drinking coffee and sharing stories about this beautiful mess of spousedom.
Being a military spouse has been the most amazing (and in some seasons, the most challenging) journey. From being married at a younger age to discovering myself nearly a decade afterwards, walking the path as Mrs. Brown has not been without its joys or difficulties. I’ve been a milspouse for almost 14 years. Here’s my story and a few lessons along the way.
I met my husband in 2005 while attending college. He was visiting a mutual friend in my home town of Shreveport, LA when we connected. He was active duty and stationed in Columbus, MS. To avoid cliché, I won’t say “it was love at first sight.” I’ll say that it was a very swift connection and, par for the course, our courtship was extremely fast. We met over Thanksgiving and we were married the following April. I dropped out of college to marry a man in uniform.
Being married at 20 years young was definitely a whirl wind. I feel like we spent the first two years of our marriage becoming adults. I began my career as an insurance producer at State Farm, we bought a house, and then we became parents.
After Hannah was born, I went back to work. I was so uncertain about my abilities to be a homemaker and I knew that I wanted the security of a dual income. I achieved success in my career and loved my job. I had dreams of becoming a State Farm agent (we all know that the military’s plans and ours seldom match).
We received orders for a remote tour, moving to my husband’s hometown where he would serve as a recruiter.
We were very excited about moving closer to family and we were sure that it would be amazing. While we would be closer to family and Keith would be working more family friendly hours, it would prove to be the hardest season.
I was 7 months pregnant with our son. Our daughter was almost 2. I had lined up a job at a local State Farm agency and I couldn’t wait to get settled. After he was born, I was hit with a crippling case of postpartum depression. I gained weight, stopped caring about my appearance, lost motivation, and it eventually cost me my job.
Keith and I made the decision for me to transition to a SAHM (stay at home mom). The transition was the most difficult thing that I have ever done. I was used to an office, competition, goals, and recognition. The dishes and laundry seemed unending (and there was no corporate bonus for finishing them).
My depression got worse and I found myself gasping for air and begging for bed time.
After the birth of our third child, things began to normalize. But, there is always another surprise. Deployment orders. In the midst of three children (ages 5, 3, and 1), very few close friends, and no Air Force base (we were 50 miles away from Wright Patterson), I was faced with going through deployment alone.
This is where the “rubber met the road” for me. I had to learn to conquer this or I was going under. I made a list of potential obstacles. We were not on base and I did not feel safe in our home. So, I bought a security system. I knew that I would have trouble sleeping, so I made to a plan to hit the gym so I would be physically tired at night. I found a reliable sitter and I was ready to take on the world.
It was in this season, that I discovered myself. I found that I loved the gym and that I could take control of my life. I was spinning out and I found my feet in a group fitness class. I lost 35 pounds, came out of my depression, and spent six months pursuing my passion. During this deployment, I would complete four fitness certifications and become a personal trainer.
It was also during this season that I began reading my Bible every night and I learned what it meant to “pray without ceasing.” Every night at 8:30, I would pour myself a glass of wine and pull out my Bible. I called it my “W” time, because there isn’t anything that can’t be fixed by some wine and The Word.
Keith came home and we had both experienced true transformation. We had orders to Keesler AFB in Mississippi. It would be at this station that we would grow in faith and in love. While my passion started in fitness, my soul awoke when sharing the gospel. I am now in full-time vocational ministry and Theology student at Moody Bible Institute. We helped plant Sola Church in Gulfport and our family is fully invested in ministering to military families.
We now have found "home base" in Warner Robins, GA, stationed at Robins Air Force Base. I serve as a military missionary, Bible teacher, and freelance writer.
Three things I have learned:
You can do this. No matter what season you are in, new or seasoned, it is not too late to discover yourself. You are capable of amazing things. There is a passion planted within you and you should strive to find it.
Community matters. Our time at Keesler was a game changer. Having a solid community of friends and support has made all the difference. Life with community is sturdy and life giving. We now seek to rebuild this community wherever we go.
Transitions are opportunities. When this military life throws up changes or obstacles, meet it with expectation of growth. These are the seasons where you discover what you’re made of.
A parting word: If you find yourself today in the throes of loneliness or depression. You are not alone. This season may be hard and the days to long to handle, but I promise this is not the end. If anxiety and hard emotions are dictating the day, reach out. On my hardest days, I wished for someone to talk to. I longed for someone who understood. If you need a place to drop your struggles or sorrows, e-mail me at email@example.com.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
We invite you to join us in creating a paradigm shift within the military spouse culture. We want to be at the forefront of creating a movement within our community that trades comparison for compassion. We want to replace the negativity that surrounds the MilSpouse culture with a positive image of personal fulfillment and success. We can be a group that raises each other up, building strong leaders and supporting new ideals. Join us by “liking” our Facebook page, subscribing to the blog, and linking us to your local “spouse’s” Facebook page!