I guess the thing is.....I've been hoping (as is almost ALWAYS the case with me) to reach another "plateau" of sorts, or one of those highway markers that says, "Overlook ahead", which signifies that just around the corner I'll be able to look back and see the amazing climb behind me, the breathtaking view, the majestic cliffs I've just overcome. I like to see Hard Things packed up and framed behind glass before I talk about them. "...Yeah, there was this one time I went through this..." instead of "I'm dealing with something tough right now, and I don't fully understand it....."
Honestly, folks, the Long-Awaited Homecoming was just another step along the way of what I think is, quite simply, our Marriage, as God has given it to us.
I don't mean to start this out sounding glum, but truthfully, life has not been 100% love and mist and chocolates since the return of my husband from Iraq. We are so dearly grateful to God for bringing him back to us, no mistake. I will always (hopefully) live in the light of that mercy, thanking God for bringing Ben home whole. However, 1.33 years of separation *does* have an effect on a marriage. We are selfish creatures, and the pressures that God has allowed us to endure have revealed that selfishness.....and also revealed to us our desperate need for the Grace of God in our marriage. We must truly be INDIVIDUALLY devoted to God before we can expect peace and fruitfulness between the two of us.....much less display it to our child.
Ben & I have spoken of the Hibernation Factor quite often over the last year-and-a-third of deployment. The terrifying solitude we both endured brought about an unfamiliar reaction: an instinct to hibernate in a spiritual, emotional, and for me--a physical sense. It was as if we had each held our breath, dug in our feet, and braced ourselves against the onslaught of loneliness and fear we were both about to endure, and maintained this position of strict endurance for most of the deployment. We each found it difficult to pray, difficult to talk to people or socialize, and difficult to want to do any Bible-reading. I cannot explain it, but I have finally found the means to describe it.
I feel now, that is, we both feel...that we are experiencing the inevitable results of a year's worth of putting off devotions and prayer.
God has been gracious, friends......He has held us in the palms of His hands while we hid our heads and didn't come out till June, 2008. He was patient and kind....and waited for us to get our nerve back. Now, we are finding our spiritual footing all over again with each other, with God, and with our role as parents. It is difficult, but, hey......we press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
I don't want to finish on quite such a somber note. We have been teaching Violet to recite, "A Cheerful heart is good 'mecininn'" and we sometimes look at each other and say it, when the hurt feelings are humming in the air, and we're both holding out on the other for forgiveness. "A cheerful heart" is quite the "mecininn" that Ben & I need to heal the 1.33 years' of separation. Offering up thanksgiving is nourishment for both of us, and we know it well! It is easy to get bogged down in reciting our disappointments to each other, but we are learning to set them down on the altar and let them burn up while offering Thanksgiving instead.