I had wanted a Brighton bracelet for awhile! My Mom had one filled with charms that represented all her babies, including David because he is now her baby too! For Christmas this past year, my Mom gave me the bracelet with one charm on it. I may start crying just thinking about it because it was all so perfect! The first charm my Momma picked for me was an angel that said "Peace" on it.
It makes so much sense because for years now, I feel like I've been at war with myself. There are people who are such close friends of mine that have never seen the real me because I've constantly been on the fence. I may play it well, but those who really know me, who have been around for years know that I haven't been myself and have, thankfully, stuck with me along the way as I search for that peace. I've lost friends along the way, but those that matter have stayed by my side.
I've thought about this a lot over the past several weeks. Seeing my Hubby really showed me just how far off course I had gotten. I didn't notice when he came home on leave from Iraq, because that's when everything happened with my Momma and I was thrown into a different kind of chaos. But I think this friction started back when I started college, maybe even before.
Right before my senior year, I got mono. Don't ask me how.. I promise it wasn't because I was kissing anyone. David was away at basic/AIT which makes it so much worse, but through all the camps, there's no telling how many drinks I shared with people. It disgusts me now. Anyway, before marching band started, I was diagnosed with mono and because band is one of the most important things to me, I set aside my health and refused to miss my last year of marching. The memories from that season will remain with me for a lifetime, but the toll it took on my body was destructive and I was out of church for months, using Sunday's as my day to recuperate. By that point in the week, after classes, work, marching rehearsals, football games and competitions, I could hardly muster up the strength to open my eyes on Sunday morning. Being out of church for that long took a toll on my relationship with Christ, on my service to others, and on my fellowship with my church family. I didn't realize how drastic of a toll it had taken until I left home and went out on my own at OBU.
It baffles me how wonderful God is. I could have easily gone to OU, OSU, U of A, any public school around, but for reasons only He knew, the doors to each school closed the second I stepped onto OBU's campus. It was a smooth adjustment from on social bubble to the next. I was surrounded by those who were good, strong, Christian influences, and even though I rebelled, it was not nearly as bad as I fear it would have been had I gone to a public university first. My rebellion escalated and with each act to prove my independence came multiple steps away from my walk with God. I pretended and made myself think I was tricking others around me, but as always, everyone saw through my facade, and thank goodness. One of my last acts of rebellion was transferring to OU.
I don't regret my time at OU. I learned so much about myself and about the world, but the more I learned, the more I wanted to be in control of my own life and "live in the moment". One day, I woke up and realized that I had shattered my own bubble and was no longer surrounded by those strong Christian influences that I so naively took advantage of. I began to see my life in two ways. Where I could go if I continued on this path of rebellion and "finding myself", or where I would be if I sought His will. An intervention was made, and it just so happened that it occurred in my life as well as my husband's. For him, it was the opportunity to mature and grow up as he was called up for a deployment, a wake up call to put his life together and stop living for himself at that moment. For me, it was a hope and an opportunity to live the life that I not only wanted, but needed. The chance to turn away from the negative I had surrounded myself in and be where God had purposed me to be.
As my Hubby left for Iraq, I continued on at OU without much change at all. David's absence was one of the most difficult things I've had to endure. I got to such a depressing point going weeks without hearing from him and not knowing how he was doing. I isolated myself from almost everyone and everything except those things that brought me joy; Band and Kappa Kappa Psi. I would miss class in the mornings hoping for a chance to talk to him or sleeping so the time would pass faster. Needless to say, I didn't make it through the semester and after the bowl game, I knew something had to change. I don't remember praying much through that period, just how numb I was towards everyone and everything. By the time school started back up for the Spring semester, I had decided not to return to OU and that a break and time with family would be good. I can't even imagine what would have happened had I returned to OU. I definitely wouldn't have made it through another semester and I surely wouldn't have continued on in music. In fact, when I moved back home, I put away my saxophone and had closed the book in my musical career. I don't know if I was burned out, or if the passion had just died.
The thought of God's impeccable timing is such a wonder to me! David came home earlier than expected for R&R since I was home and not bound by classes. I said earlier I didn't have a chance to notice the nasty changes in my life when David came home from Iraq. I may have and just not remembered, but the happenings of that evening have been a blessing and a curse. I have never really dealt with death. I've lost 2 of my great grandparents, but I still am blessed to be surrounded by 2 other great grandparents, 4 grandparents, and all my aunts/uncles and cousins. I'm sure I've written about this before, but it helps to talk about it more each time, to release some of the confusion that I still deal with.
David and I had just gotten to the park when my brother called and said my Mom had fallen and I needed to get home. As we got closer to my house, the panic slowly filled me. As I pulled up, the blue and red lights of the ambulance met my rearview mirror and I saw my sister standing in the doorway, with my Mom laying behind her in the entryway and my Dad performing CPR. My world crumbled in that instant. I can still see the our broken-hearted fear plastered on my Dad's face as he so bravely tried to take care of my Mom and see that we were taken care of as well.Between each breath of CPR, he was quoting scripture and praying, not even aware of what he was subconsciously doing! Goodness, if that's not an incredible man, I don't know what is. I shielded my brother and sister from the view of our Mom being pulled our on a stretcher with a yellow tube rising and falling over her chest, breathing for her. As they closed the doors to the ambulance, I honestly did not know if I would ever see her again on this earth. David, Alex, Tristen, and I all went inside to grab essentials and hurry to the hospital. While my brother and sister gathered some things, I stood in the living room in desperate need to fall apart. David held me, made me look him in the eyes and told me I had to be strong for Alex and Tristen. So, into Mommy mode I went. I coped in that moment by taking care of my brother and sister, watching over my Dad, meeting the needs that my Mom would usually meet, and realized I was not capable to fill her shoes. For a few days we didn't know if she would make it, if her brain and memory would be damaged because of the amount of time without oxygen. By God's hand, our family made it through in one piece, and even though we still deal with the trauma from that night, every day gets easier.
My Mom lost several months of her memory, only remembering specific things because of pictures and stories. The trauma, the memory loss, the change of lifestyle changed who she was; it changed all of us. David was my rock through that time and I know I wouldn't have made it through if he had not been there to encourage and support me. That he would come home the day this all happened is a complete example of God's perfect timing, along with my decision to be home that semester and my availability to help my family during that time. You would think that would be enough of a wake up call, but spiritually, nothing changed.
David came home, we planned the last details of our wedding and were married! Literally, the happiest day of my life. And to have been surrounded by all of our family and friends was the biggest blessing. The transition into married life was NOT easy, to say the least. Neither of us made an effort to set the proper foundation for our marriage by making our relationships with God and our investment into a church a priority. We were both brought up in church and did not continue that tradition. Within a few months, the haunting of another deployment loomed and we started to brace ourselves for the possibility of another year apart. By our 9th month of marriage, David was gone at trainings and schools, preparing for his deployment to Afghanistan. I was at Baylor when I found out for sure, surrounded by brothers at our fraternity's convention. Time stood still as he told me when they would leave and the lack of preparation for this next stage of our life was overwhelming. As the reality of his absence got closer, I began to shut myself off from things again.
When David left for mobilization, I could feel the depression starting up again, but I tried with everything I had to be myself. A friend approached me one day and told me she couldn't be around me because of how negative and depressing I had become, and that others were starting to notice as well. It was such a losing battle, of course I can't handle this deployment on my own. And still nothing changed. I was just embarrassed that others had noticed my inner struggle, how public it had become and that I had been unable to take care of it.
The months of the deployment passed and it got closer to R&R, but the closer to R&R, the worse things got. Those several weeks before David came home were the darkest, lowest, and hardest times for both of us. We feed off of one another's energies, and that can have both a positive and a negative reaction. When David would call, I would start off so excited and then as I heard the lack of excitement in his voice, my mood would plummet. The fighting escalated and there were points we didn't know if he would even come home. Add to that the stress we put on ourselves with other responsibilities during R&R and you have a pretty toxic situation. It's hard to be on the same page when you're on opposite sides of the world, but every day felt like we not only weren't in the same book, but that we were in completely different libraries.
The anxiety of him coming home melted away the second I saw him. I felt the change, felt how far off base I had gotten, how far from who I am... the weights I'd been carrying went away and in that instant, I felt pure peace as I stood in my husband's arms. To have all that stress lifted away was everything. Sure, things were still a little stressful during some points of R&R, but we made it through those times together. Having him home was so relaxing and comforting for both of us.. it was like a year in the spa for our hearts and souls to be mended of all the damage we had caused or allowed. Peace.
Since R&R has ended, that peace that I thought was only temporary because of David's presence has remained. To me, it's something just so simple and almost unnoticeable because I feel like myself.. no weight, no drama, no battle or stress, just me. But others have noticed this change and it makes me happy that this could be permanent. I don't want to be who I've been the last few years.. I don't want to feel that way or live life without a purpose. I have a purpose, my Savior and my King who sent His Son to die on the cross for me and for you so that we don't have to carry this burden of life! These struggles are not mine alone because I place them at the foot of the cross and my Lord takes care of me and guides me through. I don't have to live my life for me because I serve a Greater Purpose and His plans for me far outweigh any dream I could ever have for my life. I am so thankful for my friends and family who have helped guide me and support me through this past several weeks as I grow in my relationship with Christ and strive to make permanent and lasting changes in my life to be a better wife, puppy mommy, daughter, sister, aunt, student, musician and most of all servant to the Lord. I have passion back in my life.. purpose. It's been a long year. One I don't really care to repeat, but I will happily revisit it to remind myself where I am without Him and where I am when I'm in His loving and caring arms, allowing Him to guide me through this path of life.
If you made it through this whole blog, my goodness you deserve an award! Thank you for reading about my journey and I hope that it is a blessing and a comfort to you. And for those who have aided in this journey, you will never know how much you truly mean to me and how much of a blessing God has allowed you to be in my life! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Much love and God bless!!
9 months ago