They say deployment is a lot like a pregnancy, (funny- I thought the months before the deployment were like that), where there are stages, trimesters if you will. There are apparently three month, six month, and 9 month marks. There are points where you adjust and deal with the change in the first three months, and then the second three are when the newness has worn off and life becomes “normal”.
There are times like today as I walked to the mailbox that I saw my neighbor’s “Welcome Home Daddy” banner and had a joint thought of “I can’t believe I am here doing this” and “that will eventually be me.” It wasn’t a thought of pity (believe me I have had those) it was a moment of wonder, a flashback of ten years thinking we never would have imagined that we would be doing this. The pity moments seem to come when you would least expect it. It’s when you did everything possible to make a moment successful with your small children, only to have it become a disaster or feeling that you could have really used the help if that person behind the counter would see through your “togetherness” to find a single mom. I highly respect all the single moms out there, the difference might be that I have the nagging thought that my help is around the corner in summer of 2010 so I never quite let go of the fact that I could use some.
As I approached this three month mark- 100 days- I started to feel my motivation leak away. I wanted that week again where I just did nothing, ate ice cream every night, and thought about nothing. My first set of goals were being completed, but the deployment was only a third done and the only thing left to do was set some new ones. So I did, nervously, as if I had never completed a goal in my life. Would I have the childcare I needed to work on them? Do I have the time? Does it fit in with the goal of being a great mom too? And just when I wondered if the “funk” was going to let up, God moved in a sweep of grace and renewed me.
Within three days (maybe it will be longer than that) I had more village-minded community than I have every experienced. I had neighbor kids not only voluntarily fixing a bike, but offering to pump tires, comforting Jack when he bumped his head (a regular occurrence), a friend who sold me a beautiful bike, a neighborhood chaplain who gladly came out to watch Aidan on his bike and offer male encouragement. I had a couple we are friends with call me up and ask to take me and my boys fishing. When we followed them out to the pond, they had bought little boy fishing rods for them, bait, and the husband baited all the hooks, and they helped them with their rods. They volunteered afterwards to let the husband watch the boys while I went the “Y” with the wife to do a class. She had just lost a grandfather and even shared with me some of their dinner someone had dropped off. And here I thought I was to comfort her.
I wonder sometimes how to thank people for that. I wonder if it’s weird to them that tears come to my eyes when the manager from behind the Chick-fil-a counter brings my tray of food to the table. Regardless of whether or not they heard specifically from God that day, I wonder if they have any idea that they moved me. That they were part of a much bigger plan to re-new my belief in the Kingdom outside of the church walls. How could they have known that their acknowledgement of me or my children rendered me speechless, that it was exactly what I needed before I needed it. Most have no idea where I came from or the wounding that I have experienced in my life from “good people” trying so hard to be “good” that they fail to see the need standing in front of them. How do you thank someone for doing what seems so small to them, but was ordained for me?
Matt did a huge 50 page project in undergrad on fellowship, breaking down the Greek and Hebrew concept. That started a desperate desire within us to find and develop that type of organic servant style of serving. We found it in different seasons of our life so far, and even found it within a church in Kentucky. That experience renewed our faith in the church body and what it was capable of. But this… living in the world. Working apart from the church building, and watching how God moves around me, for me, through me… I just can’t explain it to those whom I have sat next to in class, those who studied under Cullinan’s teachings on impacting the world. I can’t explain it to those who have served in the church only who toil over what kind of “outreach” project to do and then sit around tables thinking it has to be a massive county wide ordeal. I am not bitter towards the church, but I realize that there was something else God wanted us to see. I just didn’t think it would have been me receiving the love. I look outside my window and see children playing with friends they just met nine months ago, and neighbors who come out to chat along the sidewalks knowing some will be already leaving next summer. Neighborhoods aren’t commonly like that. The last one I left, I still felt bad that I didn’t bring that plate of brownies to my neighbor when I was the one who moved in and was new.
My good friend here, another chaplain’s wife whose husband is out there with Matt told me that she tries to look for the blessings in every day to get through the deployment, even if its being thankful for the nine appliances keeping her house running. I see now how there are gifts given to me each day, some so small I miss them, that God hands over to remind me of his Sovereignty. He nudges me that I am not alone, that I have purpose to not only share his wealth, but am just as loved to receive it myself. He picks me up when I find myself wanting to sulk, he hands me a little boy who knows just how tight to pump a tire, or someone’s husband to take off the grill tank so I don’t blow up, a neighbor mom who just wants to join me for a glass of wine to tell me about how she feels God’s hand too, a sweet woman behind a fast food counter who gladly gives me a refill of coffee, or a friend who buys my kids fishing poles. This makes me want to jump up and yell, “oh how God is Good!” I want to beat down the doors of some of the churches and release the must from inside. Some have forgotten how true it is that serving the least really does work. That it really does feel like the actual hands of a Savior. Maybe even a Savior they have never met before, but feeling “saved” in that moment, easily makes a person realize that the intense thank you they have to offer is meant for something or someone bigger, a Creator that knows them better than anyone else.
I found a decorative plate the other day that I put up in my kitchen that carries more meaning than it would have a year ago, “Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.”