I leave that statement blank because my army-wife life/attitude varies daily. Some of the adjectives that can fill in that blank include rewarding, frustrating, educational, encouraging, challenging, exciting etc. I never regret my decision to walk down the aisle with my beloved Infantryman/Drill Sergeant Brandon, but I must admit that sometimes I question how God decided to call me to this experience. But then I remember 1 Thessalonians 5:24-- "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
Before I get too far into this, I want to encourage those of you who might not be married to the military that the following content applies to WHATEVER God has called you to... Whether it is business, parenthood, ministry, counseling, athletics, whatever, the one who has called you to it is faithful and WILL do it.
As for me, today here at Fort Benning, our company, Foxtrot 2-58, picks up a new basic training cycle. For those new wives and others outside the military, the entire cycle is broken down into five phases, each lasting three weeks long. The first portion is called Red Phase. It's intense.
Granted, I'm not getting hollered at by the Drill Sergeants (thankfully) and I am not being asked to climb to the top of eagle tower or wake up at 0400 every day. But it is still intense for us wives/families left at home. Whatever the trainees are asked to do, our husband Drill Sergeants are asked to do more... get up earlier, stay later... we we really don't see much of them for the next 3-6 wks, except on the occasional nights they get to come home and sleep under the same roof for about 4-ish hours. And lemme tell you, I am not exactly at my prime between the hours of 2300 and 0300... So interaction is limited.
This is only my second red phase. For some of the more experienced army wives, husband separations are really no big deal. But I'm a newbie, with about 13 months of army wife-ness under my belt. Last cycle was challenging for me because I didn't know what to expect. I was fighting a battle, as many of us do on a daily basis. (Check out The Enemy Doesn't Wear Combat Boots for another perspective/encouragement.) I like having a semi-set schedule and enjoy the companionship of my husband... and with the army, sometimes that just doesn't happen. Needless to say, I had some "words" with God last cycle. (Great news: He loved me through it all and never left me!)
Being an army wife takes practice. I look at other army wives and wonder how in the name of chocolate sauce they were so calm and legit about the chaos that is army wife life. Then I remember: Oh yeah. They have been doing this for seven, twelve, fifteen years. When I first had THAT revelation, I had about 8 months of experience under my belt. Army spouse separation is kind of like yoga... to be that flexible, it takes practice. It might hurt a little bit when you stretch. And you might pull a muscle. But keep practicing!
Brandon and I have been through several army-induced separations... We lived in different states when we first started dating (weekend see ya laters were yucky!) then he deployed. Eight months later he proposed while on leave... followed by another see ya later as he went back to Iraq for four more months. We got married, then he left for two months for drill sergeant school. Then we moved to Georgia and had our first basic training cycle.
With each separation, the anticipation of the event was (almost) worse than the actual goodbye. My amazing Mama raised me to be independent, I'm cool with doing my own thing. And once Brandon is gone, serving his country and doing "stuff with things" I am in my "go time" mindset (thanks, God.) But to adequately describe that moment of relief, I use the analogy of getting a shot. See, I despise needles. As we plan for our next big army challenge, all the talk about it was like someone sitting in front of me, holding a needle, reminding me that the "shot" was coming. Yuck.
But when the moment finally comes, I realize that the anticipation is much worse than the actual event. Don't get me wrong... there are still PUH-LENTY of challenges after he leaves/goes to work. Many boxes of Kleenexes are used, several pieces of chocolate are consumed and my punching bag in the garage is routinely punished. But over time, I have grow more and more accustomed to fulfilling these words from 1 Chronicles 16:11-- "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."
So today I celebrate the beginning of a new cycle and new red phase. (Never in a bajillion years thought I would say that!) Why do I celebrate? Because God HAS and continues to grow me in this process. There isn't a huge knot in my stomach of nerves and separation, but rather a confidence that God is molding my heart and attitude to follow Him. He has called me to be an army wife... to be eternally in love and dedicated to my husband, but also to know that Christ is The One that is ALWAYS here with me, through deployments, red phases, trainings etc.
Today I celebrate and give thanks that we are not just an Army of One... but rather an Army of the Son!
Today, I celebrate and give thanks that I am not just Army Strong... But I am God Strong.
For all of you out there, fighting your battles, dealing with challenges, military or otherwise... I pray that you TOO are God Strong.
Fulfilling God's Call,
"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." --Psalm 18:32