So there’s a part of deployment, it seems, where family and friends come to visit you, or you go to visit them, all out of a desire to support and be supported while your spouse is away fighting for the freedom of ‘Murica.
Well, this is how my visits thus far have gone:
When Mom, Gracie, and Jimmy came and visited, I felt like my head wasn’t totally in “people are visiting” mode. I basically forgot how to be a hostess, felt like I was failing in all levels of hospitality (though they definitely didn’t make me feel that way), and realized how lopsided I now felt around my family when Jacob was gone, like I didn’t quite know how to be myself.
We went to Tuesday night study on post, traveled to Florida to visit my grandparents, traveled to Georgia to visit my great aunt and uncle, and then traveled back to Fayetteville for some R&R before my family headed back to the Sticks.
During this whirlwind trip, I struggled with serious self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, as well as a deep sadness for Jacob’s absence, for some of the marriages in our unit that are struggling, and for the general and worldly hopelessness for marriage to be fulfilling and thriving for more than five years. It was rough. I ended up reaching some kind of breaking point, having a total meltdown, and saying some pretty hurtful things to my family.
During our first morning in Florida, I laid in my room, crying to God because I felt so ashamed. How could I talk about Him, praise Him, depend on Him, and help others do all these when I was being such a poor representative of who He is? As I prayed for forgiveness, I realized that the reality of God’s mercy and grace almost made me feel worse, because I just don’t deserve it, and couldn’t even convince myself that I’d done anything worthy of it. This is the reality of the gospel.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Against you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak, and justified when you judge…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:1-2, 4, 10)
I also learned after their first day here, that I depend a lot on Jake to balance out my emotions, whereas I used to be able to only depend on Christ to do so. I had fallen out of practice in doing the latter. Leilani, one of the ladies in the Navigators, mentioned that when her husband deploys, she realizes all the ways that she’d been subconsciously depending on her husband where she should’ve been depending on God. Well, that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t talk through all of my thoughts and feelings with the ever-so-patient, gentle, and gracious Sir Jacob, and so I was forced to submit them to and depend on the everlasting, perfectly loving, infinitely more gentle, gracious, and capable of giving guidance and comfort God.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
While my family was here, I also discovered another moral dilemma was happening back at home, and on top of my self-righteousness and pride, I began to struggle with deep hatred and confusion. The poisonous roots of bitterness and unforgiveness started to grip my heart and I nearly felt suffocated and unable to resist them; I wanted to be bitter. This bitterness reached so far so quickly that I struggled with wanting to cut my family (who are also part of my spiritual family) out of my life completely, but I knew that was not God’s will and that this was not who I was, nor who they were. My family was not the enemy. This was a lie.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
The bitterness didn’t last long, and quickly abated as the truth of God’s Word settled further into my heart of hearts. This would be okay. And an abundance of grace and love was shown to me by family, regardless of my outburst and unkindness.
My friend Holly and her niece Haley were next to arrive, and they stayed for about a week. Holly had recently torn her ACL, and Haley had recently had her wisdom teeth removed, and I had recently finished babysitting a toddler for about a week…we were a rough bunch.
We spent the first day or so hanging out, shopping, and movie-watching. We made our way to the beach for a day and endured a serious thunderstorm to find the sunshine on the other side. The final day was more shopping and hanging out, coffee-drinking, and nail-painting. All of it was good girl time 🙂
Throughout the week, however, a whole bunch of logistical things having to do with finances, the car, and the house happened all at once. I received my first speeding ticket (EVER), discovered I’d been driving around with an expired registration for nearly a month, renewing the registration wouldn’t work because I had an inspection out-of-state of the original registration, there were still some pending things needed to be sent in for Liberty so I could start school in the fall semester and I was waiting on 5-10-business-days to arrive in the mail, there was a bill that I’d tried to pay but it decided that it was going to tell me the information I had was incorrect and I had a mini-panic attack, and there were what looked to be fraudulent activity on my debit card. All of these, in light of eternity, are very small. Alas, they appeared huge and overwhelming and there were of course turbulent emotions wrapped in everything to make it all feel much more complicated than was necessary.
The whole time God was poking me, and reminding me of the power of prayer, reminding me of His ability to take care of things for me if I’d simply ask.
“But Lord, these are all practical things that require, ya know, practical steps and stuff. They’re small and insignificant compared to things of ministry, which are what I really need to be praying about.”
I’m sure God facepalmed at that: how can I say that God is not worthy of my small things?
My judgment of others got another big hit while Holly and Haley were visiting, as well as my selfishness, not that they did anything that merited either of those perspectives, but they came up and had to be fought. Through God’s refining of my perspective, I got to really learn a lot about Holly and Haley that, in my few years of knowing them, I wouldn’t have otherwise learned. I heard tales of how God has loved them in huge ways, of ways He’s abundantly provided for them, and of ways that He’s used them to challenge and encourage others.
TO WRAP IT UP….
So, as the deployment goes on, God continues to sift out the things I’ve so desperately asked Him to kill in me, and He continues to do so in His perfect timing and in ways that will make me actually get it. Hannah (my sister-in-law!! :D) is coming soon, so that will be yet another adventure 🙂
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)