Last night Andy and I sat on the patio with plans to discuss the next couple of months. Specifically he wanted to run a few travel questions by me and I was all too happy to hang out with him under the patio lights in the cool summer evening air. I think we may have gotten more use out of the patio this year than any year before, but it still never feels like we’re using it enough. I’m such a nut about seasonal experiences…have I done enough summer stuff? Grilled out enough? Gone swimming enough? Have I done enough fall stuff? Eaten enough pumpkin stuff? Enjoyed the colorful fall leaves enough?
Never. I never seem to do any of it enough.
But I digress…
We sat outside enjoying the evening and tossing dates and travel options back and forth. Which residency interview will be a phone call? Which will be an in-person visit? When will you fly? Drive? How will that fit in? Where are the residency spots for that specialty? How many are there? How does that work? What’s a GMO tour? How likely is that to happen?
There are soooo many decisions to make right now.
My head swirls with the thought of it all. For the most part I just offer feedback in the way of, “Whatever you think will be best, babe. I’m totally on board with anything. I trust your choices.”
That usually is my gut feeling. Plus, I can tell myself what a good and supportive wife I am.
If I slow down and really think about it all though, I get nervous.
Not so much about Andy’s upcoming travel and interviews and rotations. But about our life. The trajectory it is going to take.
I may convince myself that I’m ok with whatever and I’m totally up for the adventure of it all and I completely trust God to lead us and keep us as we move forward.
But once in a while, like last night, it all really hits me.
We are moving away.
It’s not pretend. It’s not just a long vacation. It’s not even far away anymore.
It’s right around the corner and it’s happening and we aren’t coming back.
Even typing those words gives me a lump in my throat.
Even if we do come back when Andy has fulfilled his obligation to the Navy, we are looking at like 10 years from now.
I’ll be 45.
Grace will be 15! Avery will be 12! Drew will be 10!
Lord have mercy.
That’s forever and no time at all.
When we decided to join the Navy 3 years ago, we prayed and thought long and hard about it. It was the option that made sense to us. Andy felt proud to serve his country. I felt hope at not having to be the primary bread winner throughout Andy’s school tenure. We felt relief that there was some way for us to move forward with our family and his career.
I still feel that way. I’m beyond grateful for all the Navy has provided us over the past 3 years.
But back then things were different. I was working full time and I was stressed out. I was striving for, yet failing at, work-life balance. I was disconnected with many of my friends. My family had just been divided by my parent’s divorce. I was living out my faith in more of a token way and I wasn’t plugged into my church. I felt like I was an island.
Back then moving away didn’t sound so bad. In fact, it sounded like relief. An escape.
In theory I knew, “Everywhere you go, there you are” and that my issues wouldn’t go away even if I did, but the cost of having the Navy decide our whereabouts seemed like a bargain for what we were getting. Plus, it was 4 years away and that felt like a lifetime.
It’s not a lifetime.
I’m staring down this final year and last night, under the patio lights, it all felt very real and very close.
Friends have recently moved away. It was real.
Family is moving away this week. It is real.
The lump formed in my throat as we were talking. My eyes became wet with tears.
We sorted out various dates and travel ideas for the fall and then we prayed. Just as we have every night for the past couple of weeks. Andy has been really torn about which specialty to pursue, so we decided to pray together consistently for 30 days to seek God. Ultimately we say our lives belong to Him, so we wanted to discipline ourselves to hear from Him about the next chapter.
As we prayed I listened to Andy’s words. I heard Him thanking God for going before us and walking beside us and being all around us.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
I’ve heard this verse before. I’ve belted it out as I drive my car around my familiar neighborhood, to and from all the same places week after week.
I know it to be true and it comforted me last night.
But I still felt anxious and afraid.
I asked myself why. Why, if I know He will be with me wherever I go, am I still afraid and anxious and uncertain?
I’m comfortable here. I know the area. I have friends and family who love me. I’m plugged into a church. I’m living in community with people around me. I know this place and these people. I’m comfortable.
And, as much as it pains me to admit it, I value my comfort more than I trust God.
I say I want to follow wherever He leads me and that I’ll trust whatever He has for me, but when the rubber is meeting the road, I’m scared.
The things I’ve been learning and mulling around in my heart and mind have been powerful. I’ve convinced myself the truths God has been illuminating for me are rooted deep in my heart. I’ve imagined various scenarios that might test my faith and I’ve imagined myself clinging to God and not freaking out.
But once again, the minute I feel confident that I’ve “arrived” somewhere in my faith is the minute something happens to shake me up.
To remind me of my humanity. My selfishness. My weakness.
Before that prayer time last night, I honestly didn’t see this comfort idol. It was a total blind spot for me.
As much as I examine and re-examine myself, my thoughts, and my motives, it always catches me by surprise when the Lord reveals a blind spot to me.
Last summer it was pride. This summer it’s the way I idolize comfort.
I’m so grateful for these words…
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10