Saturday, September 14, 2013

What a Difference a Week Makes

One of the hardest parts for me when first starting a deployment is getting used to the new normal.  All of my routines seem tarnished by the absence of my sweet husband.  While in theory it should only affect my night time and weekend routines, deployment actually affects every part of my day.  This is because from the moment we say goodbye, the weight of the world is on my shoulders.  Or so it feels.

My husband once told me about an article he read regarding decision-making and how with each decision we make, we become more and more apathetic.  Each choice we make requires so much brain power and energy that we are simply too exhausted by the end of the day to feel passionately enough to make yet another call.  I feel that this aptly sums up the life of a spouse with a deployed soldier, especially one who is also a mom.

While it's true that you want to keep your husband as involved as possible, it's not always easy when you have to make a split-second decision.  And at the beginning of a deployment, there is a lot of adjusting to this new pressure.  You can't just call or text and find out what he thinks.  It's all up to you.

This was epitomized for me the day after DH left.  It was a Sunday, and I was already dreading going to church and sitting by myself. I remembered all too well what that felt like.  Well, DD decided not to take her morning nap that day, and I struggled with the decision of whether we should still go to church, knowing it would be hours (by the time we got home) since she'd slept.  Now, this may seem like a petty problem, but to me it was huge.  Not only that, but it was Sunday.  My husband should have been home to help me make the call.
Ready for church...nap or no nap
I ended up taking her to church, praying she would be ok in the nursery.  I nervously dropped her off, explained she hadn't napped, and told them to call me if she got too fussy.

Then I walked into the sanctuary and found a spot for solitary me.  Then wouldn't you know?  The first song we sang was "Your Grace is Enough."  I balled like a baby.  So much so that a woman came up to me to make sure I was ok.  I felt like such a fool.  Totally embarrassed!  I reassured her I was fine and tried to pull it together the rest of the service.  DD ended up making it through the whole time, and we went home.  I was exhausted, but we were ok.  I began to realize that the Lord was going to see me through this, even when I felt like I was making a "wrong" decision.

Over the next several days, I continued to strive for a new normal.  Since DH was still in transit, I had no idea when or if I'd hear from him so I began to have quite a close relationship with my cell phone, just in case.  He was faithful to cal or write and keep me updated.

Finally, he got to his destination and within a few days, we were able to Skype.  He was incredibly busy, and the time difference made it even harder.  But DH is so committed to us and does his best to connect with us in some way virtually every day, barring a power outage.

After about a week, we managed to find our rhythm.  By the next Sunday, going to church, I already felt as though we had established new routines and were settling into the new challenges we faced.  Although there were still a million decisions to be made, the pressure and weight of those choices seemed to dissipate.  God reminded me that even though I couldn't always ask my husband, I could always ask Him.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

When Scripture Invades Your Life

         DH deployed on a Saturday.  I’ll admit there was a huge part of us that was relieved this day had come.  Once we started, we could start counting down.  The hardest part would be over.  So that morning, we tried to keep as normal a routine as possible while finishing up last minute things (like recording DH reading for DD).  When it was time to drive to the drop-off location, I sat in the back with my daughter, thankful for her sweet smile as I tried to keep it together.

            When we arrived, I was unexpectedly overwhelmed with memories of past deployments.  I saw those infamous white buses and so many thoughts flooded my brain.  DH dropped off his bags.  A photographer snapped a quick picture of us, and we headed inside.  It was hotter in the building than it was outside.  One would have thought this was a special enough occasion to turn on the A/C.  Since we had an hour to wait (don’t you love the Army’s schedule?), we walked around mostly outside, giving DD a chance to run around.  I was grateful for the chance to be a little removed from the heaviness inside.

Last family photo for a while
            I did not know anyone there and felt the weight of this impending deployment all at once.  I knew it was going to hit hard because although I had been processing it weeks prior, I was still doing remarkably better than previous deployments.  And I was smart enough to know this wasn’t because I had just gotten better at dealing with them.  It was simply that it hadn’t hit yet.  I looked around at the other families and marveled that they were not crying.  While my tears would come and go in spurts, there was no doubt I was upset.  I always want to hold it together, to say what is most heavy on my heart – how much I appreciate his sacrifice, how desperately I will miss him, how I pray for his safe return – but every time I try to speak, tears prick my eyes and my throat swallows up the words.  I just have to trust that DH knows me and will hear these words when I can better express them.

            When it is time to draw weapons, we decide DD and I should go.  After this point, we would not get to see DH except to get on the bus.  I had watched that heartbreak in past deployments, and we all knew we couldn’t handle it now that we had a daughter.  Regardless, it was beyond difficult to tear ourselves apart.  Practicing a newly learned skill, DD waved bye-bye but had a bewildered look in her eye.  Clearly she didn’t understand why we were saying goodbye to Daddy in this strange place.  DH and I hugged and kissed, expressed our love, and DD and I walked back to the car.

            As we left, I felt every raw emotion imaginable and wondered how I was ever going to be able to do this.  But the words that reverberated in my ears were, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13).  To some, (and even to me, at times in my life), that verse has lost its meaning.  But that Saturday in July, it was not trite.  It gave me hope and strength.  I knew I only had to get through that day.  There was no need to look at the next 365 days.  I pulled DD closer and whispered in her ear that we were ok, we were going to do this with the Lord’s help, and that we were going to have fun this next year.  I buckled her into her car seat, and we drove home.

            Walking through the doors of our house, I was immediately overwhelmed with thankfulness.  I had my daughter with me and things I had to do to take care of her.  That kept me from breaking down.  Even when she napped and I had the time to dwell on my circumstance, I knew I could not get too upset else I’d get a headache and struggle to take care of her.  The Lord was so gracious to give her to me and remind me of my job to make this the best 2nd year of her life.  To do that, I couldn’t put pressure on her.  I just had to relish the joy she brings.  Even when she points to DH’s picture and lifts her hands to ask where he is, though I want to cry, I instead scoop her up and tell her he’s on a trip but loves us very much.  This is enough for her, and we go about our day, missing him terribly but determined to enjoy what God has given us, even in the midst of pain.