No, this is not a post about the Starbuck’s controversial #redcup fiasco, which I personally think is silly. (Christmas is defined by Jesus Christ, not a Christmas tree, reindeer or decorated cup. Rant over.) This post is about the journey of a young military wife learning an important lesson– letting go and letting God. Starbuck’s is at the end of the story, so I thought I would start with this photo and then bring you full circle. 🙂
This has been a rough week as we said “farewell” to two couples who have been some of our closest friends at Fort Benning. One moves to Kansas and the other to Boston in the same week. Yes, the SAME WEEK. Needless to say, I have been dreading this week and the inevitable goodbyes for a long time. I kept counting our “lasts”– last party, last meal, last goodbye until they are several states away. Here’s a picture of our group on Halloween.
Anyway, after a couple of crying episodes and endless amounts of “fighting the inevitable” (i.e. please don’t move away, or take me with you!) I finally came to accept that this was happening, Like It Or Not. It is the military lifestyle. I always knew it would happen, but man does 3 years come fast! 3 years of wonderful relationships with some pretty incredible friends.
When we moved to Ft. Benning, I was told to cherish all the moments and to invest in my relationships quickly because there is only the chance to become close to these people in this place, for a season. And, so we did! Army Wife Life Lesson: The gal you meet in a parking lot on the way to a PTA meeting may change your life forever! So, a special thank you to Rachel for sending that Facebook message that ended up starting our friendship in the first place and then becoming one of my best friends.
This “goodbye” experience has been hard for me because it was a “first,” and I didn’t quite know how to deal. It is the end of a chapter as our friends move while we remain behind. My civilian friends have been fabulous and THERE for me to listen and talk through everything with empathy, but my military spouse friends were also so helpful in their own way because they just get it without a lot of explanation. They have all been through it or will go through it, often many times before. The best advice I received was simply “It is hard. It is really hard. Pray for strength and comfort during this time. Maybe God will use this season to strengthen you and your marriage as you spend more energy on that.” I thought this was quite sound advice. When I was feeling somewhat abandoned (by no fault of my friends, just circumstances,) I found this Bible verse that made all the difference, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.
Luke was a major supporter in all of this; even though he is going to miss them too, he just isn’t as emotional about change. Well, the final goodbyes came, and I survived without a single tear! I was kind of proud of myself..I had found the Acceptance Phase just this morning when I was writing a card for my friend, Rachel and as I prayed for the right words to say, I felt an overwhelming peace fill my Spirit. I wasn’t saying Goodbye, only See You Later.
In the end, it was really surprising yet comforting how normal both of the actual goodbyes were. I had trumped them up in my mind to be these tearful, dramatic experiences, but in reality, they were filled with laughter and friendship and funny stories about day-to-day life, just like all of our experiences have always been. It was just what was needed; we didn’t need a bunch of emotional words because we know how we all feel- we love and care about each other and will miss each other.
Now, 50% of my best friends in Fort Benning are gone, to new adventures across the country! I greatly cherish all of the friends I still have here, but I also realized (and was terrified of) the idea that it is going to be more time of Just Me. With Luke working 18+ hour days, my girlfriends helped me A LOT more than they knew. I am the kind of person that likes people; I relax by talking with other people, hanging out and having fun together. I typically don’t relish the idea of lots of time alone. Which is why tonight was such a blessing.
I had been prepared to be very depressed after saying Good Bye to my friend Rachel today. I knew I wouldn’t want to come home and dwell on it, so I scheduled a hair cut for myself after work and planned to stay busy on grad school work until Luke got off (whenever that might be.) Well, for once I got off early–right before 5! My hair cut wasn’t until 6:30 so I found myself with nothing but time on my hands and no friends or external distractions to fill it with.
I ended up going Christmas shopping–by myself! I rarely shop by myself beyond a couple of quick errands because I always like another opinion. But, I had a BLAST, really and truly. I ended up finding the items I needed plus several surprises for my friends and family, which just seemed like the perfect fit! I even found a gift for the man that is hardest to buy for in my life! 🙂 Since I am visiting my family in Huntsville for Thanksgiving, I wanted to have most of my shopping done early. And, with my eye surgery, I was terribly behind. Well, tonight made up for that and more, and I am already feeling the Christmas cheer even though it is still November!
Then, my hair appointment came, and my new hairdresser was amazing; I love my cute new cut & style from Ms. Rhonda at The Beauty Shop in Columbus, if anyone is looking for a sweet and talented hair stylist! Finally, I picked up dinner at Jersey Mike’s and bought myself a delicious caramel apple spice at Starbuck’s and jammed out to the radio all the way home. Just the independence of driving behind the wheel again solo (it’s been more than a month since I’ve done this with my surgery!) with the music turned up to my favorite songs and sipping my favorite Fall beverage was an exhilarating feeling. And, I realized that I am going to be OK in this next chapter no matter who may or may not live near me. Distance won’t end my Ft. Benning friendships, and “see you later” is not goodbye. The world is big, but the Army is small, and I love the stories of military spouses who reunite years later at another place and another time.
Friendships develop quicker in the Army, but they are strong and they last for a lifetime and can endure a PCS (or two or three) with no problem. We will never regret pouring into our Fort Benning friends as they poured into us and enriched our lives so greatly. So, for now it’s “See You Later” until Uncle Sam or the Good Lord sees fit for our paths to cross once again. Thank goodness we have Facebook and cell phones to keep in touch!
It will be amazing to see what Jesus does with this next chapter for us; it may mean more nights alone for me, but hey, I’m pretty cool to hang out with, just me and my Red Solo Cup! 🙂