The Victim Stance

depressed

When I was growing up, whenever I got in trouble, my mom would always say, “Don’t take the victim stance!”

I hated it when she talked to me like a social worker. She worked as a social worker in a juvenile detention center and, to me, it was just her trying to lump in with one of her kids yet again.

However, when I was thinking about my husband’s crazy schedule and the fact that I’d basically get to see him for about an hour a day for the next three weeks, that phrase popped into my mind – “Don’t take the victim stance!”

Whenever my mom told me not to take the victim stance, she was telling me to be accountable for my wrong actions. In this case, I hadn’t done anything wrong, but that kind of thinking still applies. When life gets hard, our husband’s aren’t around as much as they should be, or we’re just tired and lonely, we can get into a “woe is me” mindset. When that happens, we often do and say things we’re not so proud of, and then blame our circumstances.

“Well, yeah, I yelled at my kids, but I’m really stressed right now. Anyone else would do the same.”

We get snippy. We get sad. We get tired. We moan, sigh, complain under our breath, roll our eyes, become lazy, and allow ourselves to seep into a bad mood and blame our circumstances to justify it.

But we don’t have to do that. If you spend your entire life taking the victim stance in rough times and difficult situations, you miss out on a lot of opportunities to be happy.

After all, your circumstances don’t control you. YOU control you.

As I stood in the kitchen and thought about how not fun the next few weeks were going to be, I reminded myself that I control me. I can sit around the house, mope, complain, and get snippy with my kids or I can do my best to make the next few weeks enjoyable. I can choose to take the victim stance or I can choose to hold myself accountable for my thoughts and my actions over the next few weeks.

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Come Out of Hiding

Recently I read a post from a friend who talked about how she had been in hiding for most of her husband’s last duty station. Not that she was hunkered down in a basement somewhere or cut off from the world, but that she kept herself from doing certain things like going to the park or even going to church because her husband was gone and she didn’t want the reminder or to put on display that he wasn’t there.

On the other side of the coin, last year, when my husband’s ship was deployed, a group of wives from the ship got together and headed to the Navy ball without their husbands. There may have been a few moments of sadness as they watched other sailors dance with their significant others, but for the most part, they had the time of their lives.

As military wives, we have two choices – we can put our lives on hold while our husbands are away and say “I’m not going to do something because that makes me sad or because I don’t want my husband to miss it” or we can use the time to live our lives.

During my husband’s 9 months of deployment, my kids and I took a lot of mini trips, headed to lots of fairs and festivals, and even just did every day things like going to the park and heading to church every Sunday. Was it hard sometimes to see dad’s playing with their kids at the park and wish my husband could be there too? Sure, but I bet dad was the last thing on my four-year-old’s mind as he raced around the playground.  Did I wish my husband could stand beside me at church as I worshipped on Sunday mornings? Of course, but I also recognized how much support I got from our church family and focused more on God during those moments.

I’m not writing this to shame my friend. On the radio the other day, the host was talking about a woman who posted about her struggles with anorexia and commented “how beautiful it was that she could share her struggles in the hopes of encouraging others” and I feel the same way about what my friend posted. How beautiful it is that she could admit that she somewhat holed away while her husband was gone so that, in turn, other wives could recognize that maybe they were currently in that place and be encouraged to get out and enjoy the moment.

When we sit at home, in a way, we’re wallowing in self pity. “Woe is me, my husband is gone, things just aren’t the same without him.”

In 1 Kings 19:4-15, Elijah focuses on his circumstances, physically exhausts himself, and prays that he will die. What was God’s response? An angel came and said, “Get up and eat” and he got up and was strengthened enough to walk for 40 more days.

Sometimes when we’re feeling a bit down or disappointed that our spouses can’t be there for every moment, we need to call on God for the strength to get up and get out there anyway.

Deuteronomy 32:10-11 says, “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 11like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”

If you’re in hiding, come out. It won’t be easy, but you have God, and the support of others who have been there, to help you live right now.

Being Frugal

Today’s post comes directly from the devotional Traits of a Military WIfe: A Month of Daily Devotions available for Kindle and in hard copy on Amazon.

“Why do military families complain about what they make? They get free housing, free health care, money for food and military discounts. They’ve got it made!”

As a military wife, you know that isn’t true. When you add up how much time your husband spends on the job, he’s making a few dollars, maybe even only a few pennies, an hour. However, that doesn’t mean you have a reason to complain about your finances or become frustrated with how little you have. It just means you must work hard to effectively manage what God has provided for you. If you want to have enough money to meet your needs and still have money to give, you must be frugal.

Even if you and your husband make plenty of money, it doesn’t hurt to exercise some frugality. In fact, the Bible encourages you to pay attention to your finances and manage them wisely.

Luke 14:28-30 says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’” and Proverbs 27:23-27 offers this wisdom:

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,

give careful attention to your herds;

for riches do not endure forever,

and a crown is not secure for all generations.

When the hay is removed and new growth appears

and the grass from the hills is gathered in,

the lambs will provide you with clothing,

and the goats with the price of a field.

You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family

and to nourish your female servants” (NIV).

You may not have the nicest furniture, designer clothes or a new car. You might not get to eat steak for dinner every night or go out to eat all the time. But really, does it matter? Military movers are likely to scratch your nice furniture and lose your new clothes. And no matter how expensive the food, you’ll still be hungry the next day.

In Matthew 6:19, we receive the following wisdom: “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal.”

Instead, you can store up treasures in Heaven by following God and by managing what little you have well enough that you can still help God’s people. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Gimme! Gimme!

It’s back to school time and, in many areas, that means back to school school supply drives from Operation Homefront and other organizations that support military families. As military families, we’re so blessed to participate in back to school drives and holiday events. We’re fortunate to get free admission to museums during the summer and head to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, or Sesame Place for free during the summer. We get money off meals, discounted movie tickets, and 10% off at many major retailers who offer a military discount.

Unfortunately, instead of feeling thankful, many wives take advantage of this extension of goodwill. You know you’ve seen it at the Operation Homefront events where families try to sneak one of each of the good toys instead of following the “one per child” policy. Some even complain when a particular business doesn’t offer a military discount, as if not offering one fails to show proper respect for the military. After all, our spouses put their lives on the line to protect our country while we proudly hold down the fort at home. We deserve a military discount, right?

Wrong.

In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus talks about the ten lepers. After he cleansed them, only one of the ten came back to say thank you. The others went on their way, likely feeling as though Jesus was a man who performed miracles and, therefore, they were entitled to the miracle. No need to say thanks.

Often, rather than being thankful, we’re often like the nine lepers who went on their merry way. Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources says, “If I feel entitled, I complain about my job. If I am thankful, I am grateful to have a job. If I feel entitled, I complain about the meal, I’m eating. If I am thankful, I am grateful to have food on the table.”  His list continues, clearly defining the difference between entitlement and thankfulness.

What would a similar list look like for the military wife?

If I feel entitled, I complain about the lack of a military discount.
If I am thankful, I take time to thank the companies who generously offer one to me.

If I feel entitled, I hoard free items at annual back to school and Christmas events.
If I am thankful, I take what I need, being sure to leave plenty for others.

If I feel entitled, I cause a nuisance and make excessive demands on those providing a free service.
If I am thankful, I embrace the opportunity and tell those involved how grateful I am.

Do any of those describe you? Do you find yourself feeling more entitled than thankful when you’re given free things or discounts just for being a military wife?

There’s nothing wrong with these freebies and discounts. There’s not even anything wrong with looking forward to them. However, we must be sure to approach them with the right attitude – an attitude of thankfulness.

James 1:17 reminds us that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Colossians 3:15 gives us a simple command, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Be thankful. Say thank you to those offering freebies and discounts. Take time to write thank you notes or send pictures to organizations like Operation Homefront, the American Legion, and others who provide freebies and events for military families. We’re not entitled to it. They don’t have to do it, but we’re so thankful that they do.