Facing Fear: Becoming and Unbecoming an Army Wife

Today is “Face Your Fears Day.” Many things I have overcome, attacking at full force, initially have little to do with choice. Like Rafiki in the Lion King said, “You can either run from it or learn from it.” I suppose a third choice is standing still, letting life happen to you without really experiencing anything one way or the other.

At the root of most fears and anxiety is the looming “what if” of the unknown. Sometimes what we face in and of itself is not scary, worthy of dread, unwelcome, or dangerous, but instead it is filled with uncertainty. Uncharted territory with lack of experience, walking in blindly, and facing whatever may come has been more about stubborn tenacity than courage for me. Taking a risk, placing your heart on the line, standing up for what you believe, triumphing over adversity, or simply getting through a really difficult time can be ways of facing your fears. By this definition, welcome to my Tuesday Ten!

  1. After about a six or seven year absence from my life, one day in 2007, I received a message from Peter. He was my “one that got away” and one I never believed possible could return to me. Through countless e-mails, chats, texts, and phone calls, I realized I could not let this man get away again, even if he wasn’t “on the same page” due to his situation at the time. Though in some ways, less risky than saying it out loud and in person, I sent Peter a text message along the lines of, “You don’t have to be ready to respond, but you need to know that I am completely, irreversibly in love with you, then and now and always.” I sent this as I was leaving a missions meeting and he received it in the Burger King drive-thru. The rest, as they say, is history.
  2. After getting married, I left all the familiar things of home – family, a job, a congregation I loved, and dear friends – to become an army wife. The move from Texas to Colorado had many adventures, including movers that “broke down” on the “Texas Colorado border, near Amarillo” (their words). In spite of that challenge, I faced the unknown of moving to a new place and setting up a home for my husband.
  3. A few months later, we added to the adventure. Though news of my first pregnancy quickly fell in a shadow of our first deployment, we faced the fear head on, perhaps out of requirement and necessity. Being a first-time dad, Peter’s leadership allowed him to schedule mid-tour leave (of a 15-month deployment) to see the arrival of his son. Facing most of a pregnancy alone, when it’s a first pregnancy, when you live in a new place is filled with unknowns. I will confess that I “ran away” to my own mommy and daddy for the last couple of months of pregnancy and then the first three of Dietrich’s life.
  4. Dietrich showed no interest in entering the world. A week after his due date, after a day of induced labor, the doctor forced eviction by C-section. That was the first surgery I’d had in years, and certainly more involved with longer recovery than either a tonsillectomy or sinus surgery. I struggled afterward with why my body didn’t go into labor, why I couldn’t deliver him on my own, before I embraced the truth: None of that mattered, because he was in my arms, healthy. At the root of so many fears is a lie. Find the lie and shout the truth at it as many times as necessary to believe the truth.
  5. As Dietrich and I faced the world together, venturing out and exploring beautiful Colorado Springs. My first time or two driving in “real” snow (not ice like Texas) or frozen fog was scary, especially when others around me continued at posted speeds on the highway.
  6. Getting to know each other again and becoming a family of three took some getting used to, but we managed. However, a short year later, Peter deployed again (this time for 12 months).
  7. After Peter’s return the second time, he needed a change. He contacted the branch manager and learned of a new position in Germany. This move was the furthest out of my comfort zone I’d been called. Everything about leaving the familiar language and culture, watching as our household goods were packed to be sent overseas, and saying good-bye to loved ones (some for the last time) held a new level of unknowns.
  8. When we left for Germany, I was pregnant for the second time, a pregnancy that would end too soon and my worst fear in the world, one I didn’t know I had, became a reality.
  9. When we went to Germany, we knew the new unit would be part of a quicker rotation cycle in Turkey. About a month before Peter left, we learned we were expecting Madilynn. While that pregnancy had some trials, not the least of which was being pregnant in a foreign country while parenting a preschooler, God provided all the right people at just the right time to get us through.
  10. As we left Germany and Peter ended his time with the military, we did not have a job prospect. We didn’t know where we would end up, what we would be doing. We watched as our goods were packed to go to a storage facility for an unknown amount of time. Through this time, I used the teachable moments to share my faith with Dietrich. Imagine my surprise the day he repeated my own words back to my dad: God’s going to point us in the right direction!

This post does not include the many adventures we had while living in Europe. Some exploring I did on my own with the children. Some exploring Peter and I were able to do, just the two of us. I walked the harrowing, hallowed ground of a concentration camp with a friend. Some adventures were a special treat for the whole family.

Partnach Gorge

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