No news is good news, right...especially in the Army? Unfortunately, Matt's call informed me that a stick caught his eye and tore off his epithelial. The medics told him the eye would heal and there would be no permanent damage to his vision. In the meantime, he was put on heavy pain killers and kept in the troop clinic. I instantly wanted to fly back to see him, but he reassured me this wasn’t necessary, and I wouldn’t be able to see him even if I was home. Worry immediately set in. Matt had just had corrective laser eye surgery a year before. I wondered if this injury would wreak havoc on the corrections they had made. I also struggled with whether I should fly home anyway just in case he was dropped from the school and sent home. Matt had said he would call again when he knew more. In the meantime, he asked me to just pray for God’s will.
The next day he called again and said they were going to let him continue. He was still in a lot of pain and didn’t know if he was relieved or disappointed about the decision. I continued to stay in California but struggled to enjoy myself knowing my husband was in such physical pain. I didn’t even know if I would get to talk to him again to find out if his eye had healed and he was out of pain. If I remember correctly, he called one more time but with minimal change. He just said to keep praying for God’s will.
About a week after I returned from California, it was time for me to pick up Matt for what should have been his 8 hour pass. I was so excited! I had already baked his favorite dessert, shopped for his favorite foods, and planned my outfit. When I got there and saw the formation, I tried to pick out my husband. When they broke apart, I finally saw a tired, dirty, but oh so handsome redhead walking towards me. He hugged and kissed me but then told me he had been recycled and would have to repeat the Benning phase. This meant no 8 hour pass today. Instantly, I was disappointed and began to cry. He said he didn’t have time to tell me more but he did think he would be able to see me for a few hours later on, since he would be waiting for the next group of guys to begin the Benning phase. He said he would let me know when he found out more. So like all Army wives do, I went home, put my life on hold, and waited anxiously by the phone.
That night, the tears wouldn’t stop. I had so many things I wanted to ask Matt. How was his eye? Is that why he got recycled? How was he feeling emotionally about all this? Did he want to continue? Unfortunately, I was not going to get those answers that day. I went to bed that night crying, wondering if he was okay, and why he hadn’t called. I hated the fact that I couldn’t just call him!
During this time, I begged God to let Matt call. I was so desperate for a conversation with my husband that lasted longer than two minutes. I felt like I was going insane. Of course, the other wives I knew whose husbands were also in Ranger School had either already had their 8 hour pass day with their husbands or had found that that their husbands were Day 1 recycles. I felt so lonely. Once again, God was the only One I could count on to meet my needs. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” However, in all honesty, at that time I didn’t feel all my needs were met. I just wanted my husband!
The next morning, Matt called (hallelujah!) and said he could see me for about two hours that night. He told me the time and place to pick him up and said he couldn’t wait to see me. I was practically jumping up and down with excitement. All day I thanked the Lord for this opportunity – one I would not have gotten had he not been recycled. I could now see how God was meeting my needs, even when I didn’t always feel it.
When the time came to pick him up, I could feel my face glowing. As I pulled up in the parking lot, I could see a formation of soldiers. In my head, I went back to a few days ago when I had done this very same thing but did not get to take my man home. I prayed and hoped that wouldn’t happen again. Minutes later the soldiers were released, and my weary husband walked towards me with a smile on his face. I hugged and kissed him, asking if he was okay. He reassured me he was and just asked if we could go home and get something to eat. I was more than happy to oblige!
We had a wonderful few hours together, and while it was difficult to take him back later on that evening, I was just thankful to have had some time together. It turns out the Lord’s plans are way better than my own! During the time with Matt, I saw for myself that his eye was okay and his vision unaffected. He explained that he, of course, was disappointed to get recycled but that this was the best time for it to happen. He went on to explain that had he gone straight through or been recycled in the later phases, we would not have had this extra time together. Wow! I promised myself I would never question God’s ways or timing again.
During the next few weeks as Matt completed the Benning phase I prayed for him fervently. Though I knew little about patrols, I knew my God would take care of my husband as He had already faithfully done. I also found out that due to this interruption, Matt was now back with some of the husbands of the wives I was beginning to know. As a result, we wives decided to meet once a week for dinner either at someone’s home or at a restaurant so that we could stay connected. This proved to be a very fun, encouraging time to which we all looked forward.
Matt and I continued to write back and forth. He finished the Benning phase without any complications. When I went the next time to pick him up for the 8 hour pass, he was actually able to come home with me! We had an amazing day together filled with a lot of sleeping and eating. During this time, he also encouraged me to begin looking and interviewing for teaching jobs near Ft. Stewart where we would move in the summer. I was excited to begin this process since I had been subbing for a few months and was extremely eager to have my own classroom.
I completed online applications for several school districts in the area and was soon contacted for interviews. God graciously provided two schools for me to interview with, and I was able to drive over for the appointments. My first two interviews with both principals went surprisingly well. I was offered both jobs immediately – yet another way God met my needs. In God’s protection the first one fell through, and He led me to the second school where I would teach fifth grade. I was beyond excited and couldn’t wait to share the news with my husband. Unfortunately since I couldn’t call him, it would have to be written in my next letter. Instead I celebrated over the phone with my parents.
About a month later, I received a call from Matt telling me he had passed the Mountains phase – praise the Lord! He then reminded me to check his AKO email to see if he had any information on his orders to Ft. Stewart. He had heard from a few guys that their orders had been changed. Sure enough, when I checked his email, I was shocked to find his Request for Orders had been changed from Ft. Stewart, GA to Ft. Hood, TX. I couldn’t believe it! I had already secured a job near Ft. Stewart, looked at the housing, and was all set (and excited) to move there. Texas was not in my plans! Matt was just as surprised as I was, but he could not talk any longer. Once again I was alone to contemplate the consequences and decide how to handle it. The Lord encouraged me that my positive attitude and outlook on this would be key in helping Matt. Although we were separated and could not talk often, if I remained positive in my letters about this recent change, it would put Matt’s heart at ease, knowing I could handle the change. After all, the last thing a man needs is a complaining wife. Proverbs 19:13 warns, “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”
In order to garner a positive outlook, I prayed for the Lord to give me His wisdom in how to handle this. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Yet again, God was meeting my needs. He immediately gave me an excitement and joy about moving to Ft. Hood. Trust me, there is no way I could have manufactured that kind of happiness on my own. Even when I had to call the school near Ft. Stewart to turn down the job, God gave me joy. As I began looking for teaching jobs in Texas and researched places to live, my attitude became more and more positive. I was able to honestly tell Matt in my letters what I had found out and how I excited I was to go to Hood. I even speculated that God may be protecting us from something or preventing an immediate deployment by sending us there.
As time marched on, Ranger School was finally coming to an end. The very last week I was able to see Matt on and off, and his family and mine came for his graduation. It was a joyous occasion to say the least!
While we were enjoying this time together, Matt asked if I had checked his AKO recently. Since I had not, he got online. Lo and behold, there was another email about his RFO stating his orders had been changed back to Stewart! Thank you, Lord! See, all that time I had been researching I had found out it was going to be difficult for me to obtain a Texas teaching certificate. In spite of trying to keep my positive attitude, I was beginning to worry I would have to spend more time subbing before I could get my own classroom. Yet all that time the Lord knew what He was doing. We even found out later it was because Matt had been recycled that his orders were changed back to Stewart. All of those who went straight through were sent to Hood.
When I called to see if I could still have the teaching position near Stewart, they happily informed me that it was mine. Not only had the Lord done a work in my heart, but He had protected my job and returned to me what I thought I had lost. Now Matt and I were reunited, the nightmare of Ranger School was over, and in just a few months we would move to our first duty station – Ft. Stewart, GA.
This season, like most, was filled with ups and downs. Not being able to communicate daily with my husband was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do – even harder, in some ways, than deployment. However, this season was the beginning of a change in my relationship with God. He taught me that I cannot expect my husband to meet all my needs. Although Matt is about as close to perfect as it gets, he is not God. I realized in this season that I had idolized my husband in a lot of ways. God is very clear about how He feels about idols. There are numerous references in His Word commanding us not to put anything above Him. When we read the Bible, the idols are actual statues or shrines. In today’s world, they look very different. In fact, we deceive ourselves into thinking we don’t have any idols. But if we are putting our hope in anything or anyone more than God, we are worshipping an idol.
By taking away my husband for 3 months, the Lord taught me that I can only rely on Him. Friends, moms, churches, jobs – none of those things can satisfy the deep need we have inside. Even as a Christian, we try to fill our lives with ministry or friendships or fun times. While none of these may be bad in and of themselves, we must remember that the best thing is God himself. Once we let Him fill our love tank, we can be the people – the wives, mothers, daughters, neighbors, and friends – He has called us to be. If you’re in a season of loneliness and depression, separated from loved ones, ask God how you can let Him fulfill your needs. He is waiting!