On Sunday Josh and I passed our one month mark of this deployment. Like most things in life, time seems to go by slow and fast simultaneously. The first two weeks went by painfully slow – it felt like we’d been apart much longer than two weeks. The phones have been cutting out on Josh’s end, so I’ve been trying to string his sentences together as he repeats himself for the third time. Josh has only received a few of my letters, and I’ve received none of his. Our limited contact online only allowed for brief interactions. That has made things tough. But then, before I knew it, we were at the one month mark. And we’re working on how to improve our communications within the limitations we experience.
Of course, I can’t help but think about the time. I mentally approach the time by sectioning it off into 3 different lengths – days, weeks and months. It’s incredible how differently it affects me when I section the time off in these different segments. Counting days seems to make the time creep by, so I’ll think about it in months….but then that feels overwhelming. The numbers are much smaller, yes, but I think of all that I have to do in a month. or several months. I’ll think, “my goodness, so-and-so will have their entire engagement in that same amount of time” or “the so-and-so’s will have their baby by the time Josh gets home.” And that makes me feel like I’m drowning in time. But weeks… weeks have felt more manageable and emotionally do-able. I try to focus on what I want and need to accomplish in a week’s time, and before I know it, that week has come and gone. And lo and behold, I have survived – and usually happily and actively survived.
Nonetheless, the reality of days, weeks and months lay before me…and although I try to focus on the weeks, I’ve tried to develop an approach to helping me get through the mental stages of days and months as well.
For days: I have two jars; one is labeled “Days Down” and the other “Day to go.” Days to Go is filled with marbles and each night I transfer one into the days down jar. As I do, I say a prayer for Josh and tell him goodnight. This routine is comforting, and it’s a way of noticing the passing days without assigning a specific number. I also try to write letters on a daily basis (not this week though, I’ve been exhausted from traveling.)
For weeks: I ask myself two things primarily, “How can I show Josh my love this week?” and “What do I need to do to take care of myself and stay healthy this week?” Each week I try to set (at least) one day aside to taking care of my physical health and spiritual needs and one day towards doing something for Josh or doing something I know he’d enjoy. For example, running around and getting goodies together for a care package or going canoeing – I know Josh would enjoy the fact that I’m getting out and having fun and taking advantage of the time, and that makes me happy.
For months: Before Josh left I developed a list of things I’d like to do before he comes home. These range from sleepovers with my girlfriends to sorting through/re-organizing all of our memory boxes by year/location. These long-term goals also influence how I spend my time each week. I look forward to sharing my stories and progress with Josh – in letters, emails, phone calls or when I get to see him in person again.
I don’t want to just see the time as something to pass by. I don’t want to live life with tunnel vision and miss all that is happening right here, right now. Being able stay positive in the present, I truly believe, comes from having a grateful heart and seeing how God is blessing us in the midst of trials. Our Lord is so good, and His peace is sweet.
In short, here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Make the most of the time given to you
Be understanding of limitations. My own limitations, Josh’s limitations, circumstantial limitations
Trust one another. Trust that you each care, that you each miss each other and that you are looking out for the good of one another. Recently I presented some concerns to Josh, and although he didn’t necessarily experience the same concerns, he took them seriously and responded in love to the issue I brought up. He trusted my intuition, and adjusted his actions for my good and the good of our relationship.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.