I am very much of the mindset that we choose how we will respond to this life. No we cannot choose when deployments do and do not come. We can't choose where they go to, if they are in harms way or if they are support. No one consults us about not having a spouse around for the birth of a child, or the first year of life, or through potty-training, or through grad school, or undergrad. We do not get to call our spouse for support when we get a flat, or a pipe bursts, or there is a giant, unidentifiable insect climbing up our bedroom wall.
The world will begin to fall apart at times. Our lives will become more and more difficult as time passes. Any change in the plan - whether it's a deployment being extended or, yes, even shortened - these changes, challenges, can break us down, rattle the spirit, put into question our own resolve.
We have all lived through the moments; and if you haven't - you will. I think that may be the key to overcoming them - knowing they will come. Knowing that so much of this is a battle - a battle that so often just lies within ourselves. Recognizing our reality- understanding what this life requires - prepares us for what it will bring.
This life takes your whole heart - I mean in its entirety. The soft spots that allow us to love easily, to greet each other joyfully, to embrace each other, to hold one another in the harder moments. The parts that contract in and out, allowing us to adjust, to bid farewell, to begin again, to keep strength in and to allow it to venture out. The worn parts that carry the heartache and the fear and the sadness - the parts that keep us feeling, that always seem like they cannot become anymore broken but somehow can just one more time. The places we always carry, quietly, heavily. The parts that can never leave us. That humble us. That come quickly forward and then just as quickly fade. Recalled again and again and again. There are the solid parts that hold our pride, hold the vows, hold the joy. The parts that we remind ourselves of when the darkness comes forward and the days get harder and the nights are long. Yes, it takes the whole heart.
It all makes up our strength, our armor. Everything that happens in this life can happen to or for us. We are victims or warriors. Every struggle is a moment for Grace. Every heartache, every moment they cannot be here for, brings us closer to the One who made us for this. Every moment that we survive - without distain for the separation, without anger towards a spouse who "chose a country over us" - every moment that we recognize something has been put there for a purpose - to help us to grow in love, in faith, in patience is a moment that we thrive. Sometimes we must find it on our own - sometimes we must allow someone else to grow by serving. Every obstacle we overcome, or struggle through, and sometimes even succumb to, adds to what our hearts hold.
How we love through this life has everything to do with how we respond to what it presents. There is always a choice, to flail or thrive, to be victimized or to overcome. Every moment has a purpose - every single moment.
This is a daily battle, a daily challenge, a daily life that always, always offers a choice.
It is never a question of "if" you can thrive through. I'm sorry, but it isn't. Asking that question sets you up to fail. It is always a question of "how".
All of us - all of us - can find a way.
"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.