"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Harsh Reality

I have talked before about how blessed I am in my friendships. The people I have formed relationships with in this life span every experience within it. Those at or nearing retirement, those just beginning, those walking the same path, and many who are not. I have friends that I have known and loved for twenty years - twenty-one, actually - that have seen it all. That have never failed me. Who have stood by me. Two in particular are the very closest to my heart. One who I can never remember a moment without her, can never remember a time that she was not the first that I went to with good news. Cannot remember a time when she wasn't very, very present. The only argument we have ever had was over an LSU SEC Championship ticket our freshman year of college. It almost destroyed our friendship.

You may understand why we work so well together.

The other, my d-bwa-bwa, has a name harder to spell than mine (my maiden name, that is). We fought all the time - about little things, about big things, about anything but somehow, none of that ever mattered. None of it every changed who we were to each other. She danced in the rain with me and a bottle of wine the day I turned twenty-one. And yesterday she asked me to stand beside her at her wedding - knowing that I may not be able to, knowing that that was when C was "supposed" to be deploying again, knowing and respecting that if I had to choose I would always choose him. I should be there but if not, she had planned to leave my spot empty, my name in the program, and saying something to the effect of "Saying goodbye to her hero as he prepares to deploy".

I am richly blessed by my friendships.

It is this goodness that I have known that makes my heart break for another friend in this life. When I met D she was engaged to her soldier. She has a kind, kind heart. I feel incredibly blessed to have her in my life. As a newlywed she is learning the hard way how at times some people just do not understand how this life works - even those closest to us. D and her husband's good friends just became engaged. The groom has asked him to be his best man.

I think we all know how difficult it is to give a straight answer to a scheduling question. I think we all know how much we honestly just don't have any idea when we are available, when our soldier can 'take time off work', if we can make that big family trip in seven or eight months. I know how frustrating it can be to sit on the other side of this - trying to make plans to include us, trying to work with a schedule that is so continuously changing it really doesn't exist.

D's husband can have no idea if he will be there. He leaves for his last major training for his first deployment just days before the proposed wedding date. C had to return to work three days after we were married. We were married on Saturday, stayed the day in New Orleans Sunday, and moved to Fort Campbell together on Monday. On Tuesday we were both at work. That is how this life goes.

We do not control time or schedules or events. NOTHING takes priority over the needs of the country. That is a tough pill to swallow - even for those of us who live the military life everyday. But D's friends ...

They have said some hurtful things over the last several days, bringing her to tears during an already emotional time - because her husband can't say whether or not he will be there. He can't say what he will be doing the next day, let alone months down the road. There isn't a "time-off" calendar that they submit their requests for. He can't call in sick and take a trip down for the wedding. He can't just not show up for a day or two. Those things just don't work. This is a very, very different world.

D's husband has been training so much that he is away far, far more than he is home (much more than the norm for us - they are always gone more than they are home). They haven't sat down to a real meal together in who knows how long. He is too busy to call people back, or answer emails, or what-not because he literally has no time. Sometimes people just do not understand that there are times when soldiers go into work at four in the morning and may not return until midnight. There are days that they are gone for days and weeks - while they are in country. This isn't a nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday life. This is twenty-four/seven, three-sixty-five. A soldier is never "off work". I know in the civilian world that is a near impossible thing to grasp. It is our daily life.

The groom - a friend close enough to ask D's husband to hold this honor - told D that she and he are ruining his life because they can't say they will be there. That the Army is messing his entire plan up. That they aren't being considerate because they aren't giving yes or no answers, or can't give any response immediately, or that her husband doesn't answer when he calls.

Yes, he actually told her that.

D's husband is preparing to deploy.

To, ya know, a war zone.

As an Infantry-man with an Infantry unit.

It's, um, kind-of a big deal.

But D and her husband are "ruining" their friends' lives. Because, while he can't tell his wife whether he will see her in the next twenty-four hours, he also can't tell them if he will be standing at the altar in twenty-four (really less) weeks.

Oh what people can't understand ...


What advice do you have for my good friend D? And if you don't have any advice to share, give her a lil' encouragement! She is one beautiful young woman and my heart breaks for her.


  1. If they can't stand by D's husband's side as he prepares to deploy, then he should not stand by theirs.

    D-My heart aches for you. When my husband left the country nearly a year ago for a deployment, I found out very quickly who my real friends were. Women I'd gone to school with and had spoken with nearly everyday stopped taking my phone calls and stopped talking to me. At the end of this deployment, I can confidently say there are women who stood by my side and answered my calls and hung out with me even when I was really low. You will find that gut-wrenching truth yourself: friends will abandon you. But, you will be truly blessed to find true, God-given friendships come out of nowhere. And those are the ties you will have the rest of your life.

    You are a strong woman to live this life and a beautiful woman to be committed to a Soldier. No matter what, God is always watching over you. Stay strong, my friend. "This too shall pass."

  2. Oh D-
    My heart aches for you as well! I have had friends like those described here. They eventually decided that I wasn't a good friend to them because of circumstances uncannily like this; and you know what, it hurt when they essentially cast me aside. My heart ached for a long time over the loss of people I considered to be so dear to my heart. But you know what else? Over time, I have found that the people who can't (or won't) understand that I have to remain flexible a little longer (or inflexible, I suppose, depending on how you look at it) due to my husband's calling, those people really ARE better off going their own direction, and I'm better off going mine. We don't collide, and I don't have to bear any unnecessary guilt for choosing my husband (and all the military that comes with him) over them. That's how it's supposed to be...and those who will not extend grace to me in that...well, their path just can't jive with mine.
    Since making my peace with that, God has blessed me with some true gems of friends, some of whom are also married to airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors...and some who aren't, but who understand the committment all the same. And when they don't understand, they at least respect.
    I agree with what Adrienne posted above: you are strong to be committed to your Soldier. THAT is a beautiful thing, albeit hard sometimes. Hang in there, and do what is right above all...by the priorities God has mandated, not by what other people want or expect. You'll know what needs to be done...one step at a time. :)

  3. It never ceases to amaze me what people have the nerve to say!!! If you cannot say something nice, then do not say anything at all. I just lost a friendship this week because of the same thing. How self-centered people have become...do we not have emotion or concern for other people any longer? If nothing else, the "friend" could have made them alternates.

    After so many years in this Army, we have learned to be flexible and just accept change as a way of life and nothing is in stone...most people "out there," even our own families cannot fathom that thought. "Why can't you? I don't understand...just tell them you need the day off"...oh, how I wish!!! A mental health day just to make sure he's still knows who I am would be nice; a warm meal together..what a concept, rarely ever the case.

    I suppose it is times like these that we learn who are friends are and who are acquaintances have become.

  4. D, I am so sorry that you are having to go through this right now. Like these other ladies, I had very dear friends in college, best friends, inform me that I was no longer good enough to be friends with them since I didn't put forth more of an effort in maintaining a long distance relationship. I was crushed and cried for days; days before we moved to a new post. Away from family and friends and my first time starting completely over, knowing only my husband and two babies. I have since realized that we were friends as long as it suited their schedule. Although I am very sad at the thought of having to sever such relationships, it was what was best. I still think about them and remember the good times and know that if they could understand this life, they never would have assumed that I just didn't care enough to call everyday, or "try a little harder to make time for them". This is a life that only those a part of can understand. I am sad to have lost those friends (whom I loved deeply), but can honestly tell you that God has brought so many incredible people into my life. The army is a difficult place, but it is such a rewarding life. Maybe it is time to say goodbye to these friends and preserve the good memories. I guarantee you, you will make friends who will never fault you for not ever being able to fully commit to something, for missing that wedding, for having to wait six months after the birth to meet their new baby, for choosing to cancel EVERYTHING for 2weeks while your husband is home. There is still a chance for these friends, but most likely, they will never understand and will always resent you for choosing your army life over them. I hope it all works out, either way.

  5. We are having a very similar problem. We had to pick a wedding date 14 months in advance, get it approved many times by many people before we could actually say we picked a date, and still continuously check the calendar to make sure a trip to the field isn't smack-dab in the middle of our wedding. We will marry on a Saturday (in the late evening) and Sweet Boy will return to work on Monday as normal. My parents and other family members are having a very hard time with this. They don't understand why he can't ask off work for a week like everyone else. We have one groomsman in the wedding who is a soldier with Sweet Boy, but we aren't sure if he can make it. We have picked out someone else in our minds that we know we will have to call at the last minute to step in if that soldier cannot make it. None of this is ideal, except for the fact that I am marrying the love of my life. Nothing can be simple for us, and we can't magically make things easier for other people. I would tell your friend to turn down the honor of groomsman but somehow ask if he could be an honorary groomsman; that way, he can still be included in the wedding, but it won't seem to fall apart if he can't be there that weekend. And tell D not to worry, everything will work out.


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