In the light of my recent lesson – to live an abundant life despite my circumstances – I thought I had learned a lot and would be okay. Even though the school year had already started, and I still didn’t have a teaching job, I looked for ways to stay busy. After all, that’s always the advice I received about deployments – stay as busy as you possibly can. Knowing the deployment would get here sooner than I wanted, I strove to find an acceptable routine to my days so it would already be established once Matt left. However, I still struggled. I cried, begged God to give me a job, and constantly asked “why” when things didn’t seem to go my way. Eventually, I had to surrender my expectations. See, I had expected to have a teaching job by the time the school year rolled around. When it didn’t happen, I was upset, angry, and miserable. It wasn’t until I relinquished my “plan” and adapted my expectation that life got a little easier.
After discussing it with Matt, I decided to call the university and start my master’s program a few months earlier than originally planned. I knew deadlines and assignments would give me some purpose to my days and a schedule to my hours. I also submitted an application to substitute on post. Since I knew from experience this could take a while to process, I asked one of the schools if I could just come in and volunteer. They were more than willing to put me to work. In addition, PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) started, and I attended faithfully, meeting new people and relishing the fact that three or four hours of that day were spent outside the house.
In fact, it was at PWOC that I met 2 women who would be faithful friends through the deployment. One had taught with me at my first school and subsequently taught on post (where I was attempting to gain employment). When she had her son, she stopped teaching and thus was able to be at PWOC, and we re-connected. The other friend I met had a similar situation to mine in that she was not working and did not yet have children. She and I talked one day after Bible study when we realized we knew some of the same people. Later we met at Starbucks and almost immediately developed a heart-to-heart bond. Both of these women had husbands in the same brigade who would deploy around the same time as Matt. I began to see the Lord’s hand at work!
|My joyful, sweet friend Maggie with her adorable son|
|My sweet, wonderful friend Amy|
It’s amazing how our own expectations can sometimes be our worst enemy. This is especially true if you are a planner like me. It’s often not until we surrender our idea of what life should look like that we receive the blessing the Lord has in store for us. Had I held on to my own plans and expectations, I would have missed deep, meaningful, heart-enriching friendships. I also would have missed out on extra time with my husband before he deployed. I realized that by not working during this particular season, I would be able to spend more time with Matt through all of block leave. I wouldn’t have to worry about taking time off and preparing sub plans just to be with him before he deployed. Clearly, the Lord’s plans are better than mine. I simply have to trust Him that this is true. After all, He can see the big picture. My perspective is limited – only seeing what is right in front of me. So if instead of fighting against God because He didn’t give me what I wanted, I look for ways He is going to meet me in this time, I will save myself a lot of tears and wasted emotion.
If only I could be more like Ruth. I’m sure she didn’t expect her husband to die, leaving her childless, and then feel a call to go with her mother-in-law to a foreign country, leaving behind all that was familiar to her. I’m sure she didn’t expect to marry again or have children. She might have, but surely she didn’t initially want an older man from this foreign country. Yet, she followed God. We don’t know if she cried and asked God why. We only know how she obeyed and adapted to what God had for her. As military wives, our lives change frequently, and we are called to be flexible. So often we pick up and start over again in a new place but how quick are we to change our expectations?
How much more pleasing to God would we be if we took after Ruth, held our lives with an open palm, and say, “God, your way is higher than mine, but I know You have a plan. Help me to see it and show me what to do to bring You glory.” Then maybe our expectations will match the Lord’s plan for our life. Maybe not. But either way, our hearts and attitudes will be more in line with His. And when He asks us to change course, it’ll be a little easier to relinquish control and say, “not my will, but Yours.”