So I've still got that yellow duck tape on my dash board, wrinkled and ghetto. I'll let him take it off himself when he gets home.
Three seasons have passed though. Fall was underway when he left. Its funny though that the weather in Kansas was pretty nice until the day after he left, and then the temperature seemed to drop thirty degrees. But that may have just been me. Winter was long. I tried to escape it but did not quite manage. Spring has also felt long, but gentler. It would have been hard if he had left in spring. My body responds to the hope and life that seems to bubble up out of the earth through apple blossoms and new grass and baby calves. And now poised at the start of summer I feel so ready for heat. Purifying heat. Unavoidable heat. It feels like its been an eternity. But again, that's probably just me.
People have been incredibly kind, loving and understanding towards me these last 8 months. And so so generous. I truly have incredible friends, and especially family (new and old!). I have so much to be grateful for in this season. I've received trips and vacations, part time work that fits my crazy schedule, opportunities to do things I love, letters and cards, the weekly family update letter from Aaron's precious grammie, and lots of grace.
Grace, wow. I thought I was a pretty gracious person, until I got married and he deployed. I have needed so much grace. Bucketfuls of grace. Sometimes I felt like a wounded, feral animal lashing out at those trying to help me heal, so blind to my own pain I didn't even see they were trying to help. It was mostly my family, my husband, who had to deal with that. The ultimate grace-givers.
I have learned a lot. Learned that I'm not as strong, as tough, or as independent as I thought I was. Or maybe I still am all those things but I don't relish them anymore. I don't hang them up like an award I'm proud of. I may get back to being that way, but right now I just want to be needy and dependent. Not a good trait for a new wife whose husband works 18 hour days every single day halfway across the world.
But I learned grace for myself. I'm not good at it yet. But I am also learning grace for others, especially him. Its a slow process, made more difficult by the situation. I think I'm moving in the right direction though.
I stopped pinning angsty quotes about deployment on my pinterest boards and have instead put my focus on decorating and organizational ideas for our first home (rental). I have (almost) stopped mourning over what was lost and past, and instead started hoping for the future. I can even joke about my uncharacteristic hermit-like behavior of this season, along with how hard its all been.
Its been hard. Really hard. Harder than I ever imagined. And for a lot of different, unexpected reasons. And I learned that while I may have gotten pretty good at giving God the glory in some areas or challenges of my life, there's quite a few more that I'm a complete disgrace in.
But grace, oh grace...how sweet the sound.
I know I don't have much to complain about when I personally know people who are broken-hearted over being single, or battling a debilitating disease, or facing a cancer diagnosis, or reeling after a loss. I know I'm not in a season like that. I know I'm still technically only 9 months out from my own perfect wedding day. I know I have been gifted more than I will ever deserve. And I know other women in my same situation who seem to have really enjoyed the deployment season. And I'm happy for that, truly.
Thank God that hard things come to an end. They have to, because He promised they would. I trust Him, I do, even if I don't always act like it.
So this present season as the spring blossoms turn to summer promises, I'm breathing lighter. I'm laughing a little more easily. I'm even starting to sing again. And it feels good. Really good.
He's still not home. Won't be for a little longer. But that's ok. I'm ok. We're going to be ok.
And that yellow ribbon reminds me to keep going. And for goodness' sake to stop being so melodramatic! (Yeah.....right...)
I'll leave you with this little gem. Phil Keaggy played this at Wheaton College chapel at the end of my freshman year in college. I remember I cried when I heard the line "its been a long cold lonely winter" because my freshman year was probably my hardest of my life until that point. But the hope in this song was tangible and life-giving. So it has been in this season as well. This is the exact clip! You can hear us all cheer when he plays that line. So good!
P.S. I don't write any of this out of a need for pity or because I need to be validated. I am sharing my experiences, and hopefully in a month or two I'll write again about the joys of homecoming and how maybe this all wasn't as bad as I thought ;)