Military families pride themselves in being resilient, strong, and independent. They rely mainly on their nuclear family – for friendship, for camaraderie, and for support. More often than not, it seems they have difficulty reaching out to others and admitting they are struggling or having difficulty. There is a perception that, if the family is struggling in an area of their life, it will reflect negatively on the service member … or the parents … or the children.
I have also noticed many civilian families share this individualistic quality, especially in the greater DC metropolitan area. It makes me wonder about our culture and society as a whole, since there seems to be an emphasis on, “doing it ourselves, and making it on our own.” Other cultures continue to value the mentality of, “it takes a village…,” whether it be regarding child rearing, helping out a family who is struggling with employment, whether there is a death or illness in a family, etc.
Most recently, I was faced with extending a helping hand to a couple different people who are very independent by nature. Not knowing these people too well, I still wanted to ensure they knew I was available to help in any way possible. These individuals are military-affiliated, living in highly civilian-concentrated environments, meaning their neighbors may or may not understand the complexities of life as a military family.
It’s difficult to explain the intricacies, but suffice it to say – when you are parenting single-handedly through a deployment, life gets a little harried. When you are trying to go home to visit an ill relative, but still have family that you are caring for at home, life gets a little complicated. When you are expecting a baby, and your family can’t make it out to assist because tickets to you are astronomically high, life gets a little more difficult to adjust. When you are battling a mental illness, and your husband is not able to take time off work, and your family is thousands of miles apart (sometimes even separated by an ocean), life gets a little more stressful.
As Christians, we are often talking about allowing others to see Christ in us – through our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Many times, when we see a person in need, we will offer to assist them. As true Christians, these offers will come with the proverbial, “no strings attached,” and will not come with an expectation of reciprocation.
However, what about the person striving to live out Christ through their actions?
A few years back, I had a wise person advise, “Never turn down an offer by someone to help.” I realized during the conversation – even if I think I can do it all by myself, I have to remember:
I have to allow others to act as Christ to me.
At times, I have to put my pride aside and recognize that I am called to allow them to act out their faith.
Has there been a time where it has been difficult to accept help? What’s the biggest obstacle you have faced in allowing others to serve you, and how did you address those feelings?