It was not unusual for Matt to get a call any time of the day or night since he joined the Army. It was just annoying when it rang at an inconvenient time. Since Matt no longer had numerous soldiers directly under him, we wondered who would need something at 9 o’clock at night. We soon found out.
I remember listening to Matt as he first answered the phone and proceeded to respond to the caller’s questions. I was trying to piece together what this could be about, but to no avail. When I asked him who it was, he mouthed back the answer, but I couldn’t make sense of it and gave up. I merely watched him as he paced around the room fidgeting with papers and anything else that crossed his path.
Since his tone carried a surprised quality to it, I was anxious for him to get off the phone and tell me what was happening. I reminded myself patience is a virtue. About 15 minutes after the initial ring, my inquiring mind was finally laid to rest when Matt sat next to me on the couch and explained what happened.
He immediately told me that it was a fellow platoon leader from his first deployment calling to see if he would be interested in the Aide-de-Camp position for the DCG-M. This buddy of his was now the Engagement Officer for the BG and recommended Matt to be his new aide. At this point, I asked a lot of questions like, “Is an Aide-de-Camp anything like a normal aide?” and “What the heck is a DCG-M?” Matt patiently answered my questions with “Yes, an aide is someone who assists the General with his duties.” And “DCG-M stands for Deputy Commanding General of Maneuvers, which means he is the deputy to the Commanding General over all of Fort Stewart.” Ahhhh.
“Wow!” Was all I could think. Matt quickly told me he didn’t want to be the aide and was happy as the battalion S-4. Nevertheless, his friend told him to talk to the battalion staff because the General wanted Matt to come in over the next few days for an interview.
After filling me in on some more details, Matt then called the battalion XO – his boss – to inform him of this development. The major was not happy to hear they could be losing their S-4 so close to the deployment. Matt reassured him his loyalty lay with the battalion, and he had no desire to leave. The XO was relieved but told Matt he would need to call the Battalion Commander.
When Matt got off the phone, he continued pacing while I sat on the couch in shock. Is this how jobs are changed in the military? One minute you are happy working in the S-4 shop, the next you get a call from your buddy asking you to interview for a prestigious position? This was certainly not what I was used to growing up an Army brat. Who knew you could get a phone call at 9 o’clock at night and your life change instantly?
Soon the Battalion Commander called Matt, echoing his XO’s sentiments that they didn’t want to lose Matt. However, he quickly added that Matt should go to the interview and proudly represent their battalion. Matt confirmed he would and hung up.
When he told me the conclusion, I asked him how he felt about it, not knowing how I felt about it myself. He said he was of course flattered and honored to be considered but was pretty sure he did not want nor would he get the job. We agreed that we would just pray for God to have His way and see what happens.
Within approximately one week, Matt interviewed with the General and was offered the job, at which point he accepted. (In case you aren’t familiar with the military, that’s how it works. You don’t say no to a General). As the idea sunk in and Matt’s unit gave their congratulations and reluctant acceptance, Matt and I were excited by this new prospect. We knew it would be a great experience for Matt, and that he would have an entirely different deployment as a result. However, with the job change came some other big changes.
First, Matt was issued a Blackberry, on which he received 100 times the amount of calls he ever received on his personal cell phone. Second, his hours increased late into the night and over weekends. Third, he traveled more frequently – whether it was to D.C. just for the day or Ft. Irwin for two weeks. Fourth, and the biggest of the changes, his deployment date was moved up by 6 weeks! No longer was he deploying in late November/early December. Now, he would deploy the beginning of October – a mere 2 months away!
A whirlwind of emotions captured my heart. I was overwhelmed with pride for my husband, anxiety over the upcoming deployment, and fear that it would be a long, lonely year without my husband, starting much sooner than I was prepared.
So what does a military wife do when she finds out the season of deployment is coming at her much more quickly than expected? Well, I don’t know what most women do, but I cried. Yet there was my sweet husband next to me reassuring me this was God’s plan – just like we asked. Then he said, “The sooner I leave, the sooner I get back!” That phrase rang over and over in my head. My optimistic husband was right. If he left in October, that would of course mean he would miss Christmas that year. But, it would also guarantee that he’d be home for Christmas the next year. If he left with his previous brigade, he’d leave in December with no reassurance that he wouldn’t miss two Christmases right in a row.
So I sighed, wiped away my tears, and resolved to think positively. I chose to be happy for my husband and embrace the meaning of Philippians 4:8, which says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
While it wasn’t always easy, it was possible only when I relied on God to change my thoughts. If I let myself have a pity party (which I did on more than one occasion) it was much more difficult to focus on the good. But if I prayed and asked God to give me His eyes, I would see a splinter of hope, a small reason to be thankful. Soon that led to another and another. Before I knew it, practicing Philippians 4:8 became a daily goal. I still struggle to dwell on what is noble, right, true, and lovely, but when I succeed, I always receive a blessing. Sometimes I just need to re-frame my situation, refresh my vision, and relish in God’s plan for me.