10 Things We Learned (The Hard Way) From The First Years of Military Life

Last month, the first chapter of my husband's military career came to an end, and, now, we're waiting to see what's next.

Looking back, it feels as though I can remember every little detail about the day it all began.

The cold fluorescent lighting that reflected harshly off the shiny white linoleum floors of the old government building.

Sitting right next to my husband in a hard metal-folding chair, yet feeling hundreds of miles away from him, already.

Watching old men in scratchy gray suits shuffle up and down the hallway, handing out complimentary copies of The New Testament to anyone who'd take one.

Talking in whispers, waiting for something to happen, and not really knowing what to expect.

Feeling like my heart was going to leap out of my chest when the ceremony began, and ducking off into the restroom to pull myself together at the last moment, because I was afraid I was going to be sick.

The overwhelming, contradicting feelings of pride, excitement, worry, and sadness I felt as I heard my husband recite the words.

The fear of not knowing what we were getting ourselves into.

Although I couldn't have understood the significance of the moment, the choice, and how it would forever change us, I found myself reeling from the ramifications of it all.

Then, suddenly, one last kiss for me, and a rub on my aching 34-weeks pregnant tummy for Jacob before I saw my husband disappear down the hallway.

I walked back to the parking garage in the cold with a lump in my chest the size of Texas, and drove to our empty house alone.

I'm so thankful the growing pains of transition - the training and first year-long deployment - are done with, and put behind us for good.

We made it through. We did it.

Even though these next couple of years will undoubtedly bring their own share of hardships, being able to put all of the scary initial unknowns behind us for good is such a relief.

Now, reflecting on the past couple of years, I've narrowed down just a few of the things we've had to learn the hard way, thus far.

10 Things We Learned (The Hard Way) From The First Years of Military Life

    1. Home is not a place.
    2. No matter what hardship we're facing, we are never alone
    3. It's okay to ask for help when we need it. Really, it is.
    4. On the flip-side of that same coin, friends need to be chosen wisely, and healthy boundaries are more than necessary.
    5. A duty station is what we make it.  This can be said for pretty much every other aspect of military life, as well.
    6. It's easier to be happy when we find ways to be content with what we have, no matter the circumstance.
    7. Choosing to let go, and accept the things that were never ours to control in the first place, is painful, but necessary when it comes to learning how to thrive.
    8. Healthy communication fortifies.
    9. With every "Hurry Up and Wait" that comes our way, we're learning a little bit more about what it really means to have patience, and why it is a virtue.
    10. When pushed to our breaking points, we just might come face to face with inner-demons we never knew we had, but these battles can be opportunities for us to learn more about ourselves and each other, over come them together, and grow closer through the fight.
    In retrospect, I can see God working through the trials and heartache, the harsh life lessons and the victories.

    Tearing down, building back up.

    Shaping, disciplining, teaching, strengthening.

    Always providing - not always in the ways we want, but always in the ways we need. 
    "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope." - Romans 5:3
    Knowing what we know, now, I honestly can't say whether or not we'd make the same choice all over, again, if we had the chance to, but I'm so thankful for the experiences we've had, the lessons we've learned, where we've been, how far we've come, and where we are, today.

    What has military life - or another circumstance - taught you the hard way?

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