Valentine's Day is meant to be a singular day to celebrate our love with our significant other. However, if you're in the military, there's a good chance there wasn't much of an opportunity to celebrate your relationship on this random day in February.
Seeing friends out with their spouses at candlelit dinners has its way of making a stateside wife with a house to clean and kids to feed feel extra lonely. Look at them with their babysitters and dinner reservations and bouquets of roses, while I'm over here cleaning this house alone. Valentine's Day is such an easy day for jealousy to set in when you're married to the military. Taking a moment to mourn the day might be necessary, but I pray that every military wife would take heart and remember the sacred mantle that she's been asked to carry...
That love is not a feeling, it is a daily choice.
For so many, Valentine's Day is about rekindling old feelings for each other. For the military couple, Valentine's Day can be a celebration of survival. Because we know that gushing romance comes and goes. We also know that when those feelings leave, there's nothing wrong with us, it is simply time to focus on what we have to do. Of course we long for physical presence. Of course we want the candlelit date night to ourselves. But more than that, we want to be the other person's person. We want to put the wind back in each other's sails. We want to see the other succeed. We want to come out of every training cycle and every deployment stronger and more mature than when we went in. If our relationship hinges on the ebb and flow of circumstances and feelings, then love will only be as strong as the mood we woke up in.
These aren’t just survival tactics for the military family. This is a godly love. As we look throughout scripture, God commanded our faith be exercised in our relationships. He called it evidence of Himself within us. Not only did He command this of us, but He demonstrated it for us. God chose us for Himself and asks that we model His love for us toward others.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another." John 15:12-17
As the stateside spouse, how have you had to be a friend when feelings couldn't be satisfied? You've tried to find ways to capture the soccer games or pay the bills so that your soldier could feel included and less worried. You've had to calm the in-laws and grandparents because they just don't hear from him. You've put yourself aside many many times. But when God told us in Jeremiah 1:5 that before He formed us in the womb He knew us, we should also focus that same energy into our marriage. Before he deployed, before you became a mother, before this life ever took form, you chose each other and God chose you both. And only the ones who learn the discipline of choice are the ones who survive.
How loved and blessed are we that the God that created the heavens and the earth would desire to call us friends? He chose us before we ever chose Him (1 John 4:19). The daily choice of friendship and faith is what constitutes a the celebration of love. To all the physically separated military spouses, I pray that we continue to champion our strength to make choices that are the real evidence of love.