Alright, so maybe it wasn't a meltdown. It was more of a slow collapse in defeat. A gesture intended to bring a little comical relief in the midst of planning our ninth military move. (Did I mention it's our NINTH move?!) But as soon as I fell to the ground, I sensed that my tears were about to betray my playful melodrama and the real emotions were forcing their way out, on the kitchen floor.
In February, my husband wrapped up his master's degree in preparation for an instructor position at West Point and we all moved to Fort Rucker, AL for a three month stint at the Fixed Wing Course. The rest of the families stayed back (a couple came to visit), but I didn't want to separate my children from their father. Adeline's already endured a deployment and one deployment is enough! If we can stay together, we stay together, no matter what.
Although it's taken until this weekend to plan our move, we've been discussing it seriously for the last month. In order to make arrangements, we had to first know if we would be living on post and when our potential house would be available in New York. In the usual Army circus style, we still do not have a house or answers. Initially we planned to participate in the "draw." The second week of June, the incoming instructors and personnel are ranked in order of merit and attend a draw where they choose a home that is offered based on their place on the list. In order to avoid the draw, you can arrive at West Point early and receive a home that is currently vacant. We decided that option would be best in order to get our family in a house and avoid hotel living for, potentially, up to two months. We put in our notice at our current rental in order to get up to West Point based on a guarantee that a house would be available in NY. Looooong story short, we were promised a home a couple weeks ago and now we've somehow gone from first to fifth on the waiting list and we will not be offered a home before the draw, most likely.
So, where do we go from here? Run up to West Point and take the chance that a house may appear early out of nowhere? Accept the one they offer without any choices? What if we dislike the house we're given? What if we get up there and nothing is available? Then we do the draw. What if we get a house that isn't offered until July? Do all four of us and our high maintenance dog live in a studio hotel room for one to two months? Do we pay out of pocket for a suite or rent an apartment? Do I go home with the kids until we know something? No, we stay together. Do we drive up to New York with our 17 month old who "dislikes" being strapped into the car? Or, do we save ourselves and fly? But, then I have to fly with two kids by myself. Pass. But, maybe that's better than five days in the car? Do we extend our trip by making detours to see family and friends, or do we get up there as quick as we can? And on and on and on and on and on the questions and scenarios went. Hence, my annual (allotted) military meltdown.
Since we have a 17 month old and a three and half year old, no real adult conversation happens between the hours of six and nine. Then, when there's finally time to talk about serious topics like the move, we're both exhausted, and Tim still has to study. On Friday night, we knew we HAD to make a plan, even if it involved some guesswork. At 10:00, we started the conversation. We wrote down six different options for the move. All of which seemed workable, and all of which had a downside. We kept asking, "which is the least worst option?" By 11:00 my brain and emotions were done. On a walk to the kitchen for some water, I melted to the ground in show of my exhaustion over the topic, but just stayed there. I couldn't get up. And then the tears came and I knew my little show wasn't a little show. Most of the time I can keep it together pretty well. We have a crazy life that requires a lot of flexibility and putting my desires aside, but I've grown strong through it. However, sometimes I need to let the stress ooze out for a moment and just be real. This military life is HARD!
While I was down on the floor, I let myself bask in some sorrow and frustration and then I decided I needed some God. Lord, give me the strength to prepare for this next move. Show us what You would have us do to prepare. God, I know You are working in this situation. Please give me Your perspective and help me to be thankful for this lifestyle and all You've blessed us with. You are in control. With that, I immediately felt better. The tears dried up and I was ready to get back to the move planning with my husband, but not before grabbing a pint of salted dark chocolate ice cream to comfort me! When I sat back down at the table, I expressed my frustrations to Tim and within two minutes of my prayer we decided on a course of action. Tim explained that he had been praying about our move and felt God leading us in one certain direction.
Look how quickly that happened? For a month we'd been talking and stressing about what to do, and within minutes of falling to the floor and asking God for guidance, He provided us the answer. Sure, I'd been asking Him here and there to lead us in planning the move, but I hadn't done so in complete reliance and submission. I hadn't cried out the way that a prayer deserves. I hadn't let God be in control. I kept Plan A, B, and C'ing the whole thing, when I needed to give it up to Him.
This Army life has forced me to rely on the Lord in a way that I wouldn't have to as a civilian. In the military, we don't get a lot of choices about our life. We're told where to live, when to move, if we can be with our spouses, and when we can be reunited. As a military spouse, it essentially feels like I've given up control of my life. But isn't that exactly what God wants from us? To give up complete control of our lives, to Him. To follow His plan, His will, His desires for my life. All of these friends I have to leave, all of these job changes, all of these moves, all of these deployments are...a blessing. A blessing! God is using the military to show me that I am not in control, He is and His plans are far grander and more purposed than my own. All of the changes He's allowed us to endure cause me to turn to Him more often and more desperately. With each new friend, each new post, each new opportunity to serve Him in each new community we're called to, I fall more in love with the God who is in charge.
When I start to feel resentful of this ever-changing military lifestyle, I need to remember to sing God's praises for the path HE has set before me. To the military spouse, the Armed Forces may tell us when to go and where to go, but the Lord tells us HOW to go--with a grateful spirit, an attitude of love, and hope for the future.