I remember when my husband was debating on whether or not to make the Navy his career. He had been in seven years and we were living near family, our children very small at the time. He was nearing the next step after the current duty station was complete, to further his career, thereby saying, "I'm in. I'm a career Navy officer," or getting out, giving up the navy life and entering into the civilian life.
It was a tough time for him. He was faced with the responsibilities of providing for a growing family and the service offered him a security that was unknown should he resign his commission and enter the civilian work life.
We weighed the pros and cons, over and over and over again.
If we get out: we'll live near family; the kids will know and see their grandparents more; we may or may not have a steady income coming in; we may or may not have to move again; we may or may not like living in the same place forever.
If we stay in: we will have to move, several times; our kids won't see their grandparents as often; we will have a steady, dependable income; we will get to move and live in many places.
Ultimately, I felt, the decision was Tim's. Yes, I had input, but he was the one who had to take the risk. He was the one who would be facing the challenges the Navy career would offer or the challenges the unknown would throw at him. I was ok with getting out, and I was excited about the possibilities of staying in.
Tim weighed this decision for several months. One day he would come home and say, "I'm getting out." Then the next day he'd come home and say, "I'm going to stay in." He'd be sure of his decision until the next day or week or month when it would change. I think I remember telling him, "whatever you want, I'm in."
We didn't have much of a prayer life then, at least I didn't. I didn't know that you could include God in on your life moves. I know we prayed. Maybe something along the lines of, "please help Tim make this decision," but I know my prayers were never of guidance for him, or where you would have us be, Lord. No, they were just simply more of the rote kind, "help Tim make a decision."
I will say that on the days and weeks that his decision was, "I'm getting out," he showed a lot of anxiety. He worried more, expressed the worry more, how will we pay our bills, where will I work, what if I can't find a job type questions.
On the days that he was going to stay in, he was peaceful. He knew and could predict what his salary was going to be for almost the full twenty years until he could retire. He knew the path that he would follow up the promotion line, how long it would take to get there, what jobs he would have to do to get there, and he promised me that no matter what, he would get out after twenty years.
Those days, he was at peace. Tim likes a schedule. He likes to know the plan. He likes to plan ahead. The Navy was the perfect fit for him.
When we finally got to the point of no return, "either shit or get off the pot," as my grandma would say, and a decision had to be made and no longer played with, a peace came over our household when he said, "I'm staying in."
Put the house up for sale. Tell our family. I don't remember which we did first or when we did either, but I know that Tim, the always planning and thinking ahead guy, had our house up for sale early rather than later and we had to move into a small duplex for six months before we made the official Navy move.
That's where Ronda had to grow and change and mature. I had to trust that my husband knew best. I had to go with the flow or get pulled into chaos.
And so we moved.
We moved about two miles from our house and borrowed a friend's trailer and filled it with our belongings for about 30 or 100 or what felt like that many anyway, round trips until our first little house we ever bought was empty and the memories were boxed up and living in a duplex, waiting to be unpacked or at least put in the garage where they would get sorted out someday when we were permanently settled again.
What I marvel at now, looking back at those days, is how even though we didn't know what lay ahead for us, and even though I rarely, if ever, acknowledged that God knew what was ahead for us, He, God was still there, working it all out. Giving us the experience of walking through a major life change and surviving. For years it felt like survival, but now, when I look back, I can see how God was already helping us to thrive in the challenges!
It was good that we suffered those days of indecision and fear and anxiety and the unknown and saying good-bye to family who loved us and hurt as much as we did when we left.
Because God knew. God knew the growing that He was doing in us. In each of us. In Tim, in three year old TJ, in two year old Hannah, and in baby Sarah and in young Ronda. He knew.
He knew what was waiting for us. The challenges, the joys, the heartaches, the anxieties, the sorrows, the joyful reunions, the sad goodbyes. The growth, the perseverance, the wisdom were all just seeds recently planted, but germinating and beginning to grow. There was pruning, God knows there was a lot of pruning, but there was watering, and weeding, and transplanting to bigger pots and better soil and the blooms started to open up and the fragrance of change was wafting up to Him.
We were in His plan. On His course. On His navigation chart. He was at the helm all along, watching for small vessels, taking us through foggy and stormy waters, watching out for rocks.
We're still in His plan, on His course, and He's got us on His navigation chart, always at the helm getting us to the next tour of duty safely and stronger than the last.
That's so awesome!