The New Year was off to a fun and hopeful start. I felt giddy walking away from a long year of change and into (what I expected to be) a season of comfort, knowing that I was finally on the other side of frequent tears. When I ended my last blog post with… “2016, you have BIG shoes to fill … but we welcome you!”, I meant it. And my innocent arms were wide open as I dreamed and prayed for the 365 days ahead.
Mid January, my (much cooler than me) husband surprised me with a last minute trip to Las Vegas for the long weekend. Although spontaneity is not on my list of favorite things, I was surprisingly eager to get away and do something unexpected with that thoughtful and carefree man. Love changes you like that.
The trip was more than enjoyable and we flew home with a new sense of closeness in our marriage. Tuesday morning came and we were back to work. The workday felt like most others, as I was checking things off my to-do list and secretly hoping for a snow day to catch up on piles of laundry.
The sun was starting to set and the snow was beginning to fall as that same thoughtful and carefree man walked through the door with a long face. He came and quietly sat beside me as I continued to edit photos from our trip and selfishly chatted away about my day. He so patiently waited for me to finish… then suddenly I noticed his face turn from long to anxious as he got the courage to say:
“So I have good news and bad news, which do you want first?” … “Oh no”, I mumbled, trying to brush away my awkward smile. Before I could answer his question, he said, “I’m going to give you the bad news first……… today at work……… (deep breath)……… I found out……. I’m getting deployed”.
I instantly lost all control of my body and tear ducts as I fell to the ground in a loud ugly cry. My brain was repeatedly thinking, “No. No. No. No. No. No…” and then my mouth starting shouting it, along with other things that I can’t seem to remember.
That Tuesday night I cried in his arms for longer than I ever have before as he whispered calmly in my ear, in hopes of making me feel better. But what he didn’t realize is that no human has the type of power to make you feel better in a moment like that. That nothing can prepare you for your husband of 10 months coming home to tell you he has to leave you for 6. And that sometimes it’s really stinkin’ hard to serve a God who is in the business of unexpected.
I spent the following week in complete denial as I tried to ignore the huge wall that was put right in front of me. “Why me, God?” I would pray, over and over. “Don’t you know that we are newlyweds? Don’t you know that we have already spent 2.5 years apart? Don’t you know all of the change I just went through? Don’t you care about our marriage? Don’t you care about ME?” I would foolishly question. I was flat out angry. And really, really sad.
The second week, the reality of our year looking very different than planned began to sink it. So much for the trips we had planned for our birthdays. The wedding William had committed to be in in June. And those tickets we already bought for a date night at the Fox Theatre. Every thought of life apart made me cry and I began to doubt myself as a military spouse. “Am I really strong enough for this life?”, I would ponder. I felt too selfish and dependent to believe so. “Why can’t I be more happy for my husband in his career?”, I would think as I tried to hold it together and support my brave husband as he told others about his ‘honorable opportunity’.
By week three, we began having unavoidable hard conversations and surprisingly sweet moments as we tried to understand how the other felt and what the other needed. We began exploring our options as we recalled our long distance days of dating. And we prayed hard for God’s wisdom, rest, comfort, peace, understanding and GRACE.
I wish I could put a pretty bow on this post and say that it was easy for me to trust God’s plan on that cold Tuesday night but the truth is that my ability to be in control was grasped away and my faith was tested… and it wasn’t pretty. Yes, the Lord has been faithful in providing me glimpses of His love and days of great comfort but my sinful heart has been exposed more than I would ever prefer. I dread the upcoming days apart from my husband but God’s graciously teaching me about joy in the midst of angst. And love in the midst of hurt. Only He can do that.
Now we are a month away from the deployment, which I can successfully talk about without tears (small victories!), and we are preparing the best we can for the unknown… Prayer, Community, Mentoring, Communicating, Counseling, Reading, Alarm systems (real life). Most days it feels like a full time job but I know it is so needed.
I never expected to be separated from my husband before a year of marriage, especially after spending our entire dating relationship and engagement apart. After all, I was just getting use to this living life together thing and, frankly, I really like it. But the Lord knew it would be this way and He considers it best. And as hard as that may be for little me to understand, I’m reminded that being a follower of Jesus calls us to a lot of things we don’t understand. And that God wants us to stop expecting what we expect to get out of life, and start expecting to see Him move in our midst. That God knows how much I hurt and He also knows that His plan is so much better. And it is with that truth that I’m slowly but surely learning to fully trust God and expect the unexpected, all for His glory.
Here’s to 6 more months of snail mail and ‘Poor Connection’ during FaceTime!
Prayers appreciated 🙂