Seasons of Military Life
In the military life, we go through seasons. Those seasons can be generally broken into two main categories: “hurry up” and “wait.” It always seems like the grass is greener on the other side, doesn’t it? When we’re being told what to do and being shuffled to the next duty station, we can’t wait to settle down. But when we’re waiting for the Army’s next chess move, we wish it would just hurry up already!
In a sense, a deployment is one big waiting period. This entire year is a countdown for me: a countdown till I graduate from nursing school, and a countdown till I see my husband again. But usually when a soldier is on a deployment, you have a rough idea of what’s going to happen when he comes home. You might know that a PCS is coming up, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going yet. Or, you might know that you still have X amount of time left at your current installation.
Us? We have no idea what is next. The good and the bad of it is that we have a myriad of choices, which I will not discuss here. But pretty much any choice would be a good one, though some are better than others. We might be staying here, or we might be moving to who-knows-where. I really don’t like that “who-knows-where” part. Almost every day, I’m “war gaming” different scenarios in my head, and sometimes even journaling about it. I’m the type of person who really likes to know what’s around the corner so that I can plan as many details as possible. My anxiety and type-A personality kicks in, and I want control.
Yet recently it feels like I’m being told to let go and flow with the process. Not that “letting go” means not caring or not doing my part. It irks me when people use God as an excuse to not plan properly. He gave us brains for a reason! We can’t sit back and expect God to do all the work. But we also shouldn’t feel like we have to be in control of everything.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned this past year and a half, through certain unsavory circumstances, is that God has our backs and our best interests in mind. Life is not a straight road. We, in our human finiteness, can’t see around the bends, but God does. The emotions were running for awhile, and it was hard to see through the density of them. It was difficult to believe that things would ever feel okay.
I still keenly remember that day, but the sharp sting has been dulled. So much has happened in the months since then. Certain good things have happened because of the not-so-good things. And those not-so-good things indirectly led to this deployment. I certainly don’t love deployment, but it was clear to us that this was the path he should take.
Do Not Be Afraid
Today’s Gospel reading and homily at Mass was so poignant to me. The reading was from Matthew, chapter 10, where Jesus talks about how God takes care of even the sparrows, and so how much more does he care for us? “…even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:30-31, RSVCE) Our priest, Fr. Luke, challenged the congregation, “Do we have enough confidence in our God, who is the Pilot of our lives? God is bigger than any of the storms of our life.”
Even though we have a myriad of possible options, I have confidence that the next step will become clear to us in due time (although it’s not soon enough for my human impatience). It’s been made clear up till this point, and I don’t think God would stop now. We may have had to “suffer through various trials,” as it says in 1 Peter, chapter 1. But it’s been a refining fire. I’m able to look back on those trials and think, Wow. That really did have a purpose. We are doing better now because of that.
Hope for Great Things
This isn’t meant to romanticize troubles. No doubt we were in anguish part of last year. When you’re going through a trial, you just want OUT. It can be difficult to see the purpose in suffering when it’s happening. Sometimes I wish we didn’t have to do this deployment. I wish it could be over already. But each day has its purpose and opportunities. And thankfully, time doesn’t stand still. It seems crazy that it’s been X months since I last saw Mark in person. It’s too long, yet in the context of our entire lives it’s hopefully just a blink.
Soon, we’ll know what the next step is. But until then, I know we can hope for something great.