“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:2-4
Saturday night, I was as tightly wound as one could possibly be. I couldn’t sleep despite my best efforts, so I did everything from sipping coffee and reading, to watching TV and eating a bowl of Cheerios (which I tend to go through cycles of craving and then wanting nothing to do with them…) I paced around the house with my Clorox wipes, cleaning every possible surface, and sweeping the floors until there was nothing left to be swept. I styled my hair, and put on a cute (but comfy and loungey) outfit, and I waited. Right around midnight, I started getting the texts from my husband, updating me on his travel status; “We just got off the plane.” “We are boarding the bus” “We are waiting for the bus to leave…” “The bus just left…” “We just got back to base.”…
I grabbed my keys and my purse, and my military ID and I headed off to base… I’m not the greatest driver, and I’m aware of that fact… So as I drove in the dark, the anxiety and nerves really put me on edge and I started to ask myself if I still remembered how to get there, or if I was speeding, because every car that showed up behind me was a cop (bizarre, I know, but it was 2:30 in the morning and there wasn’t much traffic)
I couldn’t believe how nervous I was… My husband and I have been together since we were seventeen, and he still gives me butterflies, clammy hands, and irrationally uncontrollable giggles. I started checking my hair in the rear view mirror, and giggling to myself, because I realized that his standards of appearance were probably really low, considering the past 6 weeks he had spent with a bunch of other sweaty, grimy, smelly marines, and I was thankful that the bar wasn’t set too high… After all, there’s only so much my over-caffeinated brain could process at that hour, and I was lucky to have been awake enough to attempt “cuteness” at all.
I finally pulled into a parking lot and saw a brightly lit tent and a banner welcoming home all of 1/10. I thought back to the way I felt when he first left… I had braced myself early on for a long and lonely 6 weeks, but honestly, looking back, it hadn’t been as difficult as I had thought it would be. I attribute that to clinging to God’s word, and good friends who kept me busy. I looked around at the groups of marines standing all around, and I spotted him; He had gotten incredibly tan, and if it is even possible, lost weight. I didn’t know what to say to him… I kept trying to think of something profound, or at the very least, sentimental, and all I managed was, “Hey!”
Mitch had all his gear on his back and he signaled for me to unlatch the trunk so he could load it in to the car. I just watched him… (and felt a little like a stalker) I watched the way he moved, the way he interacted with his fellow marines, his impatient gestures, as he waited for the last flight to get in… It was surreal, seeing him so close again. I could have sworn I was dreaming. And as much as I wanted to leap from the car and throw my arms around his neck and never let go, I managed to contain myself until they were finally released to go home.
He decided he wanted to drive home (surprise…not) and I had to laugh at his amazement at how easily the steering wheel of our 2001 Hyundai Accent turned as compared to that of a 7 ton… We talked and caught up the whole way home, and our doggies welcomed him with kisses and puppy hugs.
Now it’s Monday and time to get back to the old grind. He headed in to work today at noon, and as he was getting ready to leave, I asked myself, “Well, he’s home… Now what?” Because the whole time he had been away, I had been studying God’s plan for my marriage, trying to grow in spirit. I had been making daily trips to the gym for workouts, lifting weights to kill some of the anxiety. I had thrown myself full force into cleaning the house and making sure it was immaculate for his return. I had groomed both the doggies and myself, and I had exhausted Netflix… I had reached the summit of the roller coaster… Now what? I honestly felt like I had done all there was to do.
HA! What comes after the first summit of a roller coaster? THE REST OF THE RIDE! I was suddenly hit with the thought that this “work-up” in California had only been the beginning; a test run, if you will… My ride is far from over. I’ve learned a lot about how and how NOT to handle my marriage over the past 40 days. I had uncovered new truth behind the scriptures, and gained new wisdom, but my test hasn’t even been issued yet. Now is the time when I need to hold on to the Lord even tighter as we descend from the “first hill” of our military roller coaster. As challenging as this period was, and as well as I felt I handled it, there is still much more to come. Now is the time I need to really start putting in to practice all the things I’ve gained. I’ve learned how to handle the loneliness, I’ve learned how to cope with the anxiety, and I’ve learned to trust God and pray continually. Which brings me to Psalm 105. Verse 4 says to “seek his face always,” not “seek his face when you feel you may struggle but as soon as things calm down, go back to the way you were before you knew how to trust the Lord…” I’m just beginning. And as a Christian, I feel like an infant who’s just learned how to crawl. I have a long way before I’m walking, and there are many challenges I’ve yet to face, but I have a start. I have the building blocks that it is going to take to get me through the deployment. What I need to do now is not let my focus drift from the Lord. I need to remember that God is ALWAYS my number one, and my first and foremost priority; without Him, everything else is a sham.
I will sing to the Lord. I will give him praise for bringing my husband home safely. I will give him glory, for he has brought me through a trying season, and I am stronger than at the start. My heart rejoices in His holy name because I know I can accomplish all things through Him. I will continue to seek the Lord and his strength because I have no strength of my own. I will seek His face, always… because without him, I am nothing.
Praise be to the God of all creation, who comforts and guides for now, and all eternity. May He never leave my side, nor I His. Amen.