Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tour of Duty Chapter 4

This week we are reflecting on Chapter 4 - The Desert of Enough.  I think in life we all get to a point where we have had enough. We are ready for that season of life to be over.  However, ENOUGH is different for military families.  Their ENOUGH is incomprehensible to those who have never experienced deployment.  Below are my responses to Sara's questions for this chapter.  Feel free to comment on anything that strikes you.

1. Have you ever felt like no one understood what you were going through? How does this misunderstanding from others make deployment more difficult?

I think we have all been at a point where we feel alone, that no one understands what we are going through.  As we discussed previously, we are in the minority as military wives, so there are very few people who understand the difficulties of deployment. For some one like me who has not gone through deployment yet, I have to admit that I don't totally understand either. When my husband has gone away for work or training, I don't have the same worries as with a deployment. Yet, I have the crisis that come along in life to deal with.

2. If you’re comfortable with doing it, describe a situation when you felt stuck in an emotional desert.

I experienced an emotional desert when my husband was in Japan.  It was the first time in our marriage we were apart. Jeff had to leave around the first of November and wouldn't return until the day before Christmas Eve.  

Before he left, we did ALL of our Christmas shopping and decorating.  We even had a pre-thanksgiving dinner.  Within two weeks we had celebrated or prepared for 3 holidays. While Jeff was gone, he missed out on Colin's daycare Christmas program.  My husband never misses anything like that.  This was about the same time my child locked himself in the bathroom with the bath water running.  Our heat had gone out one night, but it finally came back on.  

But the night I arrived in the desert was the second night the heat went out.  It was about 2 am and I woke up freezing.  I checked the thermostat....yes, it was freezing.  I jiggled it. I turned it off. I turned it back on again. Nothing.  I crawled back in bed with my son and began crying. I told God, "I can't do this. I can't lay here freezing and I can't pack us up to go anywhere and then get up for work.  Help me God, 'cause I can't do this." I got back up, turned the thermostat back off and started gathering blankets.  After I put them on the bed, I turned the thermostat back on.  It was working!  I crawled back into bed crying and thanking God for taking care of me.

Then we had an ice storm!  Jeff was on his way home from Japan and my father-in-law and I headed to the airport. We waited. And waited. And waited.  My husband was supposed to arrive in Nashville early in the day.  He was stuck in Detroit! I was bound and determined not to leave that airport without my husband.  I'd spend the night if I had too.  I made laps around the inside of the airport to keep from losing it.  We were this close now and I wasn't going to let a little arctic weather get me!  The call came in after 7 pm, "we just landed." My time in the desert was coming to an end. But oh, I am certain I shall travel there again!

3. We talked in the chapter about finding shelter in God’s love for us. Have you experienced this shelter from God? If so, describe it.

When my grandmother passed away last summer, I was definitely sheltered by God's love.  Through that whole experience, he placed people in my life to provide for me: from the big burly men in the Target parking lot when I had a flat tire to the church members who visited the funeral home.  I was in need and He took care of me.

4. We looked at some discouraging circumstances in the life of Noah, David, the Israelites and Hannah. With which of these situations could you most relate?

I think I can relate with Hannah. For most women, we come to a point in our lives when we want to be a mother and experience the joy of having a baby.  When that doesn't happen according to our plans, we are crushed.

When we were trying to get pregnant for the first time, I had a missed period. I took a pregnancy test, but it came back NO.  A week later, still nothing.  I continued taking tests, but sometimes there was no reading at all.  Finally I had decided to see my doctor. I just felt it in my heart that I was pregnant, but had told myself it was ok if I wasn't. It would happen when God wanted it to.  Needless to say when the doctor told me I was NOT pregnant and he could even give me something to start my period, I was devastated! I declined his offer and walked as fast as I could to the waiting room. I bolted toward the door, not waiting for my husband.  I lied. It was not ok. I wanted to be pregnant, right then and there!

A few weeks later, I still had not started my period. I'd given up on the EPT's because I could never get a reading.  Then I got sick. I felt terrible. If only I could throw up I found myself thinking.  My principal told me I was GREEN and found someone to cover my classes so I could go to the doctor.  I certainly did not want the flu here before Christmas!

The nurse and I talked about what I had been going through and she said, "girl you are pregnant." I couldn't believe her. I wouldn't believe her.  We spoke with the doctor and he instructed me to go to the hospital where he had written orders for a pregnancy test.  I thought there was NO way I was going to pay my $50 co-pay to be devastated once more so I bought another pack of EPT's from Wal-Mart.  I got home, took the test, and it came back positive! I was 2 1/2 months pregnant!

Sadly, I had not trusted God. I had told myself how I should feel if I wasn't pregnant, but I didn't feel it. He showed me during those grueling months that he was in control and I needed to trust him.  At the time I was not a Christian, so it was easier said than done.

5. Part of the journey of deployment includes emotional highs and lows. What can you do to combat this emotional roller coaster?

To combat the emotional roller coaster, I think first and foremost we must fully rely on God.  We've got to be honest with ourselves about our feelings, our struggles, and even our priorities. Although we want to be strong, independent women, we have to give up being everything to everyone.

6. We asked on page 63 for you to describe a time when belief in God’s absolute control over a situation encouraged you or someone you know. If you’re comfortable in doing so, share that time with us here.

I think back to a financial mess we got into.  It was not fun, but certainly eye opening.  God had his hand on the whole thing because it actually allowed us to step back and look at how to get on a path to get debt free.

7. Do you believe that God sympathizes and understands when we struggle? If so, how does that help you?

Oh, yes! The Bible even tells us that.  It is comforting to know that he sympathizes and understands. It makes me know I am not alone in my struggles.

8. In what ways can you make deployment easier on yourself by realizing you don’t have to be perfect?

It releases me from believing that I have to keep up with EVERYTHING. I can say no. I can take time for myself. I can focus on what is really important.

9. Which Scripture passage out of the ones that identify rest on p. 67 meant the most to you?

Psalm 4:8: I will both lie down in peace and sleep. For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

I don't sleep well when my husband is not home. The dog barks and I look out the window. I hear a creak and walk the house. Worries and stresses flood my thoughts.  However, this verse reminds me that God provides me with true peace and rest. I can give my burdens to him and he will take care of me.

10. How does knowing that God will walk with you through the Desert of Enough help you today?

Knowing that God knows the end result, that he is compassionate toward me is reassuring. I won't be in the desert alone.

11. Anything else about the chapter that you’d like to talk about? Please share!

I have to say that at first I had that left out feeling because I haven't experienced deployment. I had discussed with my husband the chapter, questions, and previous discussions. He commented, "you know that we will have a deployment when I get my own unit?" My reply, " Why do you think I am doing this study!?!?" In all reality, we don't have to be going through a deployment to experience the Desert of Enough.  We can arrive there through any of life's circumstances.

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