Dependa: A Term to Stay Away From

Growing up in high school, I had a hard time with girls and was constantly bullied. By the time I reached my senior year, I was burnt out and ready to escape the small town I grew up in. I thought once I graduated and moved away for college that the mean girls would disappear and I wouldn’t have to deal with them any longer. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Fast forward six years later, I’m a new military spouse and in a town where I have no family and not even a handful of friends to support me. I thought, “No big deal. I’ll meet some great women and have a great support group because that is what the military is all about.”, but I was wrong again. What I met instead of support, was grown women who were mean and full of drama. I felt like I was in high school all over again.

For years, women have competed with each other instead of working together. For years, women have compared each other’s beauty instead of being content with their own unique beauty. For years, women have judged each other based on their relationships, their clothing choices, their work status, and their career choices. For years, there has been too much judgment and not enough support.

Military communities need support. Military spouses need support. The communities we live in will either help lift us up or they will help tear us down. Which community do you want to be a part of?

As Christians, we are called to support and love one another the way Christ loves us. We are called to be of a humble spirit, full of kindness. We are called to serve one another and to do it in love. We are called to speak to one another in a way that uplifts and edifies, not in a way that is meant to tear down. Are we doing that or are we falling into the trap of anything goes these days?

Hebrews 13:16 says, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

Proverbs 3:27 sums it up perfectly for us on how we are to be towards one another. If we claim Christ, our actions and our words better reflect Him. When it comes to fellow military spouses and families within our communities, we should always be seeking ways in which our words can uplift and empower someone. Our actions towards those in our communities should show the love of Christ to those who do not know Him.

We can only show people Christ if we are being like Him.

When I moved to our first duty station, I heard the term “dependa” a lot. I quickly realize it is a term that stereotypes a certain type of woman and her lifestyle choices, but that oftentimes, it lumps all stay at home moms and wives into the same category. This is hurtful and is not Christ-like.

The term “dependa” is a term used to tear us down instead of uplifting us and bringing us together.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

This scripture teaches us the importance of encouraging one another and building each other up. There is nowhere in the bible that you will find a scripture that encourages bad behavior towards another human being. The word of God teaches us that our words can either build someone up or they can tear them down. The term “dependa” is an insulting word used to tear spouses down and make women feel bad about themselves.

As women of Christ, our place isn’t to judge another woman based on her choices to stay home and not work. It isn’t our place or our business to assume that a fellow military spouse is using their husbands rank or career choice as a way to sponge off of them. Would Jesus do those things or would he be kind to that individual and be a support for them?

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

What Is a “Dependa” and What Does the Term Really Mean?

Many soldiers and fellow military spouses use the term dependa when describing someone they don’t like, don’t agree with, or want to make fun of for the way they look or dress. The stereotype is:

  • Overweight spouse
  • Uneducated or under-educated
  • Has no goals or aspirations
  • Doesn’t work
  • Lazy
  • Only married their soldier for the benefits
  • Depends on their soldier financially
  • Spends their soldier’s money on unnecessary items and then complains about not having any money for groceries or gas.
  • Sits at home all day

The stereotype is ugly. The term is ugly.

The word “dependa” doesn’t show the spouse at home who is unable to work due to medical conditions, but people just assume she is lazy. It doesn’t show a young spouse, fresh out of high school with no work experience, too young to really know what they want to do in life, and has never had to learn to manage money. It doesn’t show the overweight spouse who is trying so hard to lose weight at the gym and buying healthy groceries to live a healthier lifestyle. The term is thrown around too often and is oftentimes used to hurt someone’s feelings or tear them down.

We should be supporting one another. We should be using our words for more goodness in this world. We should be showing people Christ through our actions every day. We cannot effectively show people Christ and His goodness if we are using hurtful terms just because they seem funny to use or like they are not a big deal.

The words we use impact those we speak to either negatively or positively.

Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”

We need to consider one another and the lives we all live when we speak, type, or text. We need to think about what our fellow military spouses may be going through behind closed doors. We need to speak only after we think. We need to go by what our mom’s taught us and only speak if we have anything nice to say to someone. We need to treat people the way we want to be treated. We need to go by the golden rule.

We need to do away with hurtful terms and stereotypes and replace them with positive words and actions within our communities. We need to be the change we want to see. Let the change start within us.

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