Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things I learned from "The Deployment"

I've been thinking a lot about "The Deployment" and the things that I learned while my husband was gone for a year. I know that God really worked in my life and really showed me some things, so I thought I'd share some of those things with you, just in case they might help someone else. I apologize in advance for the length, and also pray that people take this in the spirit in which it is offered- not as a complete "how-to" guide, or advice from someone who thinks she knows everything, but just some thoughts on some areas that God showed me during Nathanael's deployment.

First off, "The Deployment" really does deserve capital letters and quotation marks. As anybody who has been through one knows, they are a huge deal. Personally, I know it was one of the hardest, if not THE hardest thing I've ever been through. But even in that valley, God was with me and helped me.

1. God really is there and He really does care! On the days that I felt like I wasn't going to make it, and that no one cared what I was going through, and I was so alone, God would wrap His arms around me and give me peace that He was there. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  If we will let Him, God will send little reminders our way to let us know He cares about us- maybe a snippet of a song, maybe a hug from a friend, maybe a Bible verse. I learned to recognize those little blessings as God's way of telling me He cares about me. A brief list of songs that really helped me:

O Rejoice in the Lord
It is Well With My Soul
Day by Day 
Under His Wings 
What A Friend We Have In Jesus

There were also many, many Bible verses that became anchors that I clung to:

Job 23: 10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

2. No matter how sloooowwwlllyyy time goes by, it will still go by. I was always amazed when people said "Oh, 5 months already? Time is just flying by!" It might have been for them, but it definitely was NOT for me. That year went by very, very slowly! But guess what? It still did go by! No matter what the trial is that you're facing, no matter what it is that you're waiting on, time WILL pass, you WILL get through it. Just try to have patience! Speaking of patience, mine still isn't where it needs to be, but I did learn that where you are right now isn't where you're going to be forever, so just wait it out. James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

3. Let your sisters in Christ be there for you- and be there for them! I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to "bother" people, and I'm especially uncomfortable with calling someone just to cry on their shoulder, but God gave us sisters in Christ to help bear our burdens in prayer. I was very blessed because there were several women in our church that had been through deployments, or long separations from their husbands, that understood what I was going through. I also had several dear friends who probably didn't completely understand, but loved me enough to always check on me and make sure I was ok. You don't have to walk around with your guts hanging out all the time (lovely thought, right?), but it is ok to tell people "I'm having a rough day, please just pray for me." Something I'll always remember is, on the day that Nathanael went back to Afghanistan from R&R, several ladies met me for lunch and let me cry and hugged me and basically just held me up. There were also several ladies who would give me Bible verses and tell me they were praying for me. Although it was hard for me to be open with others, I'm glad that I had ladies who were there for me.  Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

4. With God's help, I can make it through whatever trials come in my life. As I mentioned earlier, this deployment was the hardest thing I've ever gone through. But, we made it through it! God is faithful, and He won't put us in situations that He won't give us the grace to make it through. I Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

5. Love truly does endure all things.  I won't lie and say that because Nathanael and I are so in love (which we are!), that our relationship through the deployment was always peaches and cream. Because we were communicating through emails, instant messaging, sometimes video chat, facebook, etc., there were sometimes misunderstandings about what we meant when we said things. I think we did remarkably well, but there was still the occasional miscommunication. The thing that got us through the misinterpreted exclamation points, the times when we went days without hearing from each other, the missed calls, the alarming news reports... was knowing that we loved each other. We've only been married two years, so I am by no means a marriage expert, but I do know that the reason our marriage works and the reason we made it through deployment is because of the way Nathanael loves me, and the way I try to love him. I'm more determined than ever to keep trying (even though I fail sometimes) to love my husband with the love that God describes in the Bible: I Cor 13: 4-7  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

So, there you have it... just some things I learned through "The Deployment." By no means have I arrived, or become perfect, or anything even close- I just wanted to share some of the ways that God worked in my heart through a time of hardship in my life. If you've made it this far in the post, thanks for hanging in there through the whole thing! ;)

One last thing I wanted to share with you- This is a song that God gave me during Nathanael's deployment that has really been a blessing to me. I hope it can be a blessing to you as well:

"I Can Trust God In The Storm"
Jessica Caudill

In my life, I have many days where the sun always shines
The skies are blue above me, no shadows in sight
And I feel the sweet hand of God leading my way
And it seems on the mountaintop is where I'll stay

But in my life, I have also had nights of driving rain
The skies were dark above me, each step was filled with pain
And it seemed every prayer I prayed was never heard
Yes, I've been through some valleys, and this is what I've learned

I can trust God in the sunshine
I can trust Him in the storm
I can trust God in the chilling wind
Just like when the sun is warm
And even when I can't see His face,
He's there just like before
I can trust God in the sunshine
I can trust Him in the storm

So today, if your heart's breaking and it seems you've lost your way
And you can not understand why you walk in the rain
Just remember God's still there and He will hold your hand
When you come through the valley, you'll see once again

You can trust God in the sunshine
You can trust Him in the storm
You can trust God in the chilling wind
Just like when the sun is warm
And even when you can't see His face,
He's there just like before
You can trust God in the sunshine
You can trust Him in the storm