Thursday, May 29, 2014

Military Unexpected

I never dreamed of marrying a military man. My father did his four years in the Army, enough to move us to Alaska, and after that my connection to the military was somewhat limited. Since I lived near a large Air Force and Army base, I eventually had friends who were in the military, giving me a small glimpse into the life of a soldier or airman, but nothing truly prepared me for the intense culture shock of marrying into the Air Force. Military culture is unique and profound, confusing and overwhelming to a newcomer. You must learn an entirely new language (PCS? BX? DEERS? OIC?), be faced with heretofore unimagined interruptions and irregularities, and stand ready to flexibly withstand any change to any plan, often with little to no warning. There is a certain belief within military families that people outside the military life simply don't understand. I had no idea that I was ignorant until was thrust into the middle of it.

My husband and I met and married within five months. We both prayed extensively and felt confident we were in God's will. I have never questioned that. I have, however, questioned my sanity at getting married, having a baby, and moving across country within the space of two years. Now God has thrown another baby into the mix (due in October), while also seeing fit to have the military whisk my husband away on a deployment for the remainder of my pregnancy and first month of our new little one's life. So within three years, we will have married, had two children, moved across country, and survived a deployment. I hope. I pray.

Truly, nothing prepares you for the unexpected turns in life. But among the practical every day struggles and surprises, I have been most surprised to battle resentment and anger toward my husband. Every day for me involves a toddler and the endless monotony of household chores. ENDLESS. I have started to build community in our new home, but I miss the well-established community of my life-long home. I am finding ways to cope, but I miss my husband's strong hands and servant's heart. I am learning to have grace with myself as I battle loneliness and boredom, but I miss having a partner to share the burdens and joys of daily life. And then I talk to my husband. He is laughing about an adventure to the capital and the wonderful presents he bought. He is sending me photos of the projects he has built to help make their dorms more comfortable (his hands are never idle!). He cuts a conversation short because they are going to go see a new movie at the local theatre. I stare at my messy kitchen, my grumpy toddler, and my half-painted hallway and I suddenly find myself angry. He's on vacation while I do all the work! He is having fun, and I am struggling to keep my head above water!

I have been reading a book about the spiritual battles of a military wife. I was excited when I began a chapter where she talks about this very feeling of resentment, of being the one left unglamorously holding down the fort. I read excitedly, waiting for the words of wisdom that would magically ease my struggle. But there are no such words. As the chapter ended, I felt disappointment. She had only trite sayings to repeat. Words I had heard a thousand times. I wanted the balm for my wound, not old words I already knew. But she was only reminding me that I have known the answer all along. 

At the end of the chapter the author writes: "I am realizing that I am not left alone to bear the burdens by myself. His name is Immanuel: God is with me. He has offered to carry my yoke in exchange for His, which is easy and light (Matthew 11:30)." This is not what I want to hear. I want to hear that I have a right to feel upset. That I have a right to my anger. I want to be justified in what I feel. But the reality is that while I may feel a certain way initially, my feelings do not reflect reality. Ultimately, I choose whether to engage and encourage the feelings of resentment or to fight them with familiar truth. The truth that I am a daughter of the God of the universe, that He is is bigger than any circumstance, any trouble, and that He loves me more than even my husband can. I may never have dreamed of this life, but I willingly stepped into it. I may not have imagined being alone with children and household while my husband works oceans away, but I did choose my husband and commit to walk with him through whatever life brings. Ultimately, my deepest and truest Supporter, the One who will bear every burden with me always, is still here with me. He will never leave or forsake me. I am not alone.

Oh, and my husband really isn't on vacation, no matter how it seems to me in the moment! ;)