My heart goes out to the men and women who have loved ones in the military who are being sent overseas. Such a change is never easy, and it's even harder when it means doing without someone who's an essential part of your family's support system.
When my husband was an Army chaplain, I developed a lot of doubts and fears as one of our first separations loomed. He was going on a two-month mission, and I would be left at home with two young children. I felt overwhelmed. I doubted my ability to live the military lifestyle. I felt completely at the mercy of the Army's decisions as to where and how we lived. I had no close-by family. And I was beginning to suffer from panic attacks.
In tears and feeling very alone, I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me about these feelings. He said something to me that I love remembering: "You may think that your husband comes and goes, but your Husband is the Lord." This didn't mean my husband wasn't still very much on my mind, but a sweet peace came over me as I heard these words, and I felt deeply comforted.
When I hung up the phone, I thought and thought about that idea - that God was my real Husband. When I researched the word husband in the Bible, I read, "Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isa. 54:5).
This step forward in my spiritual understanding didn't change the course of my husband's Army career, but it changed the way I thought about myself, my home, and my husband. I began to see a deeper meaning to being husband and wife. From studying the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, I was learning that God is the source of all good and that He is everywhere. That meant the beautiful, loving, and supportive qualities that my husband expressed were not being packed up in his duffel bag. Even when he was away from home, those qualities would remain in my life because they were from God. The children and I would still be in the arms of Love, and we would have all we needed.
As I prayed to see more clearly that God's husbanding love was spiritual and always present, I found some much needed peace in my life. I also learned that identifying the qualities I loved in other people as part of their Godlike nature kept them with me. And that because all of God's goodness is everywhere, none of it would ever go away, leaving us behind.
Shortly after my talk with that practitioner, my husband was sent to Korea for a year of duty. It was a peacekeeping mission, and his life was not threatened, but I had been seeing the prospect of a year without him as a threat to my happiness and peace. And his deployment did change our lifestyle. The children and I moved across the United States to be close to my family. We left the comfort of our home on the military base to join the ranks of the civilian community. That was a tough year. But what I had learned about the spiritual idea of husband and home helped me get through it.
Prayer works for the one who leaves, as well as for those left behind. It helps us see that home is not merely a place but a presence. We are God's guests - permanent residents, really - in His universal home. His household is made up of spiritual qualities that are everywhere and with us wherever we may be - in a bunker, on an aircraft carrier, in the air. And spiritual protection belongs to "the enemy" as well as to "my side."
As for taking sides, we are all on the side of peace when we see there is only one side - the side of God's allness. When our sights are lifted above a grim, material view of things, we're choosing peace. The peace of knowing God and His totality is ours to choose and keep.
Jesus' promise is a great comfort: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
Wherever "here" or "there" may be, God is here, and He is there. He's never without us. And we're never without Him. He is everyone's home, and He's on everyone's side.