"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.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

What's in an Age

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. I have never been big on birthdays. I don't dislike them, I just don't go crazy over them. But over the last month-and-a-half people have been trying to guess my age. For a very long time, I have preferred for people not to know. When I took a job in our first Army home state, it was in my job agreement that people would not know my age unless I chose to tell them. Weird, I know. 

I am younger than C. 

Throws people off all the time.

In three jobs I have had, I have been younger than most of the people I supervised.

It has always just been that way. 

I worked full-time through college. I sat on conference calls in the hallways between classes. I switched from jeans and t's to heels and skirts in the Lockett restroom at LSU. My bed was covered in literary theory and floorset/merchandising pages. 

To many people, I married young. And for my generation, yes, I did. To most of my old friends who are just getting married and just having kiddos, I was a young mom. And I was. For today, I guess I still am.

 I was talking to a newer Army wife last night who entered this life at the same age I did. Who was and is a "young wife". Whose friends are still very much living their youth, and extending their college lifestyle, and who worry about how to pay the $175 for the shoes they "have to have" rather than worrying over how you will hold your husband's hand as he fills out the paperwork directing his last will and wishes. 

This life ages you.

I am twenty-seven-years-old. 

You have no idea how hard it is for me to type that. I feel old but at the same time I don't. I cannot tell you how many times I have been reminded by some spouses in this life - or outside of this life - that I was only "twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five."That I had no idea what was ahead. That I was "too young" to know.

 I worry how many people will now take less value in what I say. How many people will question if my experience can really be what it has been. Because I married young. I had kiddos young. And to so many people - so many Army wives - people write others off too quickly because of the numerical age.

I have moved four times - so far - in this life. I have lived in four states - so far - in this life. I have lived through two deployments with another approaching. I have lived the emotional roller coster of a deployment that didn't come. I have watched my husband grieve for fallen comrades while at home. I stood behind him as he held the hand of the mother of the friend who took his place. Who didn't come home. Who could have been C. I have struggled through that guilt. I have watched my partner fight through that. I have felt helpless, unable to take that pain. There are no words. I have watched careers change in an instant. I have watched women bring children into this world while daddies fought in a war. I have held a friend's leg while she welcomed her daughter, while she pushed surrounded by women, without her husband to coach her through. I have watched my husband kiss his new baby goodbye. I have watched daddies kiss their new babies for the first time - months after they were born. I have watched my Logan's arm tighten around C's neck - knowing, somehow always knowing. I have whispered the words, "Come back to me," through trembling lips and the softest tears. I have watched him walk away. I have recognized the fear. I have stood beside other spouses at a memorial while a four-year-old boy kissed the photo of his father set high behind a set of boots, a standing rifle, and an empty helmet. I have sat beside my husband while he dictated his funeral. I have listened as he discussed his pallbearers, his burial place.

That changes you.

I have waited for life changing news for myself, while my husband was six-thousand miles away. I have hidden testing, I have battled between what truths I should tell if my diagnosis had been different. If it had been what the fear was at the time. I have waited for a phone call that would change the life of our little Eli without C here. I have watched my husband struggle with leaving both of our boys in the hospital on two different occasions to return to duty. I have survived the nightmares. I have cried myself crazy in a kitchen after thinking I heard my husband being shot over a phone line. I have learned how to pray in great despair. I have learned what it is to be body-trembling-grateful. I have been humbled again and again. I have struggled with the guilt of thanking God for the saved life of my soldier while nearly being knocked over by the guilt of the same thought. I have feared the doorbell. I have lost my breath at the sight of my Logan wearing dog tags. I have felt the unspeakable joy of two homecomings for my C and seven for others. 

I have bought a car - negotiated a price, fought a finance manager to get what was fair. I have moved cross country during a deployment. I have made a temporary house into a home. 

I have waited. I have lived the vows. I have honored a man in a life that many cannot understand. I have stood against ignorance. I have done my part to help others to understand. I have fought for my soldier, for my family, and for the families that surround us. I have learned day in and day out how important grace is.

I have taken a path that no one understood - that I didn't understand - and have embraced it. 

That ages you. 

It sets you apart. It gives you experiences most will never have. It changes you.

You learn you are able. That you are strong. That you belong to something great.

You learn that your twenty-seven is not the same as another's. You learn to be amazed by what you have lived through. What you have survived. Where you have thrived.

Age is a number. One day I may learn to wear it as a badge of honor. I am twenty-seven and I have thrived through this much. I am twenty-seven and I have loved this completely. I am twenty-seven and I have learned that I am able, that there is no place He leads us that we are not meant for.

Age is a number. Just a number. 

What have you learned?
And how old did you think I was? ; ) 

11 comments:

  1. I religiously read your blog and frankly I thought you were much older then I am. Now knowing how truly wise beyond your years you are I have more respect for you then I already did. I too was a "young wife" and even though I am 29 I do feel like I have aged so much since my very green 20 when we had our first deployment. I've seen and been through more in the last 9 years then most of my friends from my home town will go through in their lifetime. I am stronger for it and I wouldn't trade my life for anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO very true, Sarah! Everyone who has asked my age has always thought I was over 30. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E.

      I was the same age during our first deployment and I feel like I have lived a lifetime since then. : )

      Delete
  2. Wow. Once again, you have managed to put into words the way I think most of us military wives feel. Thank you for that. I also have friends from back home who, as you put, it have "extended their college lifestyle." When I talk to them (well one especially in particular), I feel so disconnected because their worries and concerns over where to "go out" and which guys they're chasing just seem so completely trivial to me. I don't want to put them down or make their lives seem less important than mine because obviously they're not, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that this life truly does age you before most of your other peers. I'm 26, but sometimes feel like I'm 46. I wouldn't trade this life for the world though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is very different. The lifestyles aren't comparable, really. One isn't "better" than the other like you said, or one more "important". They are just very, very different.

      What we go through in a single year, holds more stressful situations than some will know during their entire lifespan.

      It's a life I truly feel we are chosen for and we learn quickly.

      Delete
  3. Holy crap girl! I seriously thought you were in your 40s. That your husband was probably approaching 20 yrs in and that you had been to dozens of duty stations and mentored many "green" wives, such as myself (am 25). Telling your age in no way makes your wisdom any less reliable. I think it makes it that much more astonishing, actually. You are WISE beyond your years and I always appreciate every single thing you write on your blog.
    Your perspective. For a 27yo? I am just in shock. Wow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You made me laugh out loud, which made Logan laugh, which made Eli laugh. : )

      C joined at the age of 17. He has 14 1/2 years in. We are 5 years apart. That's too many numbers in one line. : ) When I started this blog, I wanted to remain anonymous completely - name, age, etc. But my name got out there, so I rolled with it. But then I felt like some people may have the wrong idea about how old I was (which, unless you know me personally) most do.

      I think it is important for people to know, that you do not HAVE to 35 or 38 or 45 to be strong in this life.

      Thank you for your comment and for giving me a laugh!

      Delete
  4. Your age does not discredit you in the least. I am 26, soon to be 27. While I entered this life very recently as a spouse, I was a MilChild, which also ages you beyond your years. I have always felt a connection to your blog, and I have always felt that I could reach out to you if needed and now even more so. You are amazing and have so much to share. I have always felt that with this life you learn to pack so much into a short amount of time because you don't know how long you have with them. We will often experience what others would have in a lifetime during the length of a deployment. This life truly makes us strong and wise!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VERY well said, Katie Mac! Thank you so very much for your kindness!

      (I received your email! I will get back to you soon!)

      Delete
  5. I feel as though you put every one of my thoughts and feelings into words. I just turned 28 last week, although sometimes it feels like 48. I was a Navy kid, so it prepared me for this life. We were both 19, and in AIT when we got married. Both of us being in the Army meant the only way to really be together was to get married. We were still 19 when I got pregnant and he left for the first deployment. In the 9 years in this life we have moved 6 times, and have been through 4 deployments (with #5 coming up). He has missed the births of both our kids, so many "firsts" and "important" dates, multiple hospitalizations for our youngest, and was seriously injured during the 3rd deployment. I talk to a few close friends from back home, but it's getting harder as the years pass because we do not connect anymore. Their lives are so vastly different than ours, that it's so hard to relate. This life truly ages you, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know why, I figured you were that age. You are about the same age as me. I feel sometimes that people might think I am just a youngin' because I not only am younger than most in my Brigade, but look young, too. Not always a bad thing, but sometimes not always a good thing. It's refreshing to read blogs from young Army wives (I read another blog by a younger wife). I think we are becoming more common because of the difference of this generation of Soldiers compared to others. Plus, my Soldier is six years older than me. :)

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE comments! Thanks for sharing : )