Absence Makes the Toilet Clog

A dear friend of mine has
been posting on Facebook lately, sharing the daily foibles of her husband’s
absence from home. With her Navy husband gone on a detachment, she’s dealing
with the inevitable broken appliances, sick children, and “Why did that have to
happen now!” situations. Ever been there? With three military deployments in
our past and countless airline absences, I know exactly what she’s going
through! Sometimes, it’s almost comical how quickly “Murphy’s Law” swings into
effect when Steve heads out the door. Comical later, that is. At the time, the
opportunities for self-pity, woe-is-me, and “No one understands” loom large.
So, how can we keep those troublesome circumstances from ruining our day, and
instead, use them to enlarge our God? Let me share a couple of ideas gleaned
from years of trial and error. (Sometimes, more error than I’d like to admit!)


#1…Expect it! I don’t know
why, but for years, every time we had the inevitable “separation calamities” I
responded like they were something new. I was always surprised by the latest
unforeseen circumstance. When I began to assume… No, actually expect,
that something unexpected was going to happen, I could prepare my heart ahead
of time. In the same way that I try to pre-activity my children when they are
going to face a challenging situation, I began to pre-activity my heart. I
didn’t know what was coming…but I could begin ahead of time to prepare to deal
with whatever the surprise was going
to be in a pro-active way. Instead of becoming angry, bitter, disappointed,
discouraged, etc., I anticipated “Something” coming my way and I could then
prayerfully prepare my heart. Proverbs 22:3 says, “The wise man sees the danger
and avoids it.” Although I didn’t know exactly what was going to go wrong, or
what was going to happen to challenge my status quo, I knew that the real
danger lay in how I was going to respond to the unexpected situation. Would I
respond reactively with anger or bitterness? Or, because I prepared my heart
ahead of time, would I glorify God through pro-active decision making and
exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5:22-23? Pro-actively
pre-activitying my heart made the difference. It is those “surprises” that
catch us unaware and trip us up. Assuming that challenges would come, even if I
didn’t know the specific of each challenge, gave me the opportunity to choose
God, rather than focusing on myself. It took the surprise out of surprises!


#2…You just have to laugh! I
take life way too seriously sometimes and that’s especially true when I’m
caught up in challenging circumstances. When I was 22 years old and a young,
first-time, deployment wife, God began to teach me to laugh. I dropped Steve
off at the squadron at “Zero-dark thirty” (that’s for you military wives) the
morning of our first deployment. For the 45-minute drive home, everything
seemed to go well, but then “stuff” started to happen. During our first week of
deployment, our renters flooded their apartment, the same renters caught their
stove on fire necessitating calling the fire department and clearing our duplex
of the 50 teenagers I had on my side, the car broke down, and then, the topper
of them all…our direct deposit was only $.78. Wow! That $.78 didn’t go very far
toward our first mortgage payment!!


Remember, this was in the old
days of deployments. We didn’t have email, cell phones, and FaceTime. Steve and
I spoke once every ten days, if we were fortunate, and in between, if decisions
had to be made, I was the decision maker. That first week of “What Now!” taught
me an important lesson…I could cry…Or, I could laugh. Learning to laugh, roll
my eyes, and catch my breath before the next catastrophe overtook me saved my
life! Regardless of how big, scary, and urgent each “surprise” seemed, in the
long run, we survived them all. Moms,  you especially need to discipline yourselves
to find the humor in the situation. There’s something you can laugh
about and seeing you laugh will take the stress off your children’s shoulders.


Here’s #3…You are so much
more capable than you think! When Steve and I were engaged and people asked him
what he loved about me, he used to say that I was “so capable.” Ladies, at the
time, that description didn’t exactly thrill me. I was hoping for gorgeous,
sexy, brilliant, captivating, etc…but, capable???? Really??? Fortunately, Steve
does think I’m all those other “fun” adjectives; but even as a young man, he
knew that he needed a wife that wouldn’t fall apart.  In Proverbs 31, we see the picture of what
capable really looks like: “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will
have no lack of gain.” (verse 11) Even when circumstances seem scary, hard, or
confusing, you can do it! Elizabeth Elliot is famous for reminding women to
“Just do the next thing.” May I encourage you that the next thing is never to
worry! As well, the next thing is never the “next to next thing.” Just do what
needs to be done, one step at a time. Remember, God knows what’s going on and
He has allowed it in your life for at least two purposes. 1. So you’ll bring
glory to Him through your circumstance, and 2. Because He intends to bring good
to your life through that same circumstance.


My friend, Kelly, is doing a
great job this detachment. Her daily updates are full of laughter and
pro-active decision-making. She’s reminding me to expect the unexpected and to
prepare ahead of time. Sisters, we can do this thing! Prepare to be surprised,
laugh loud and long in the midst of trials, and know that in Christ you are
stronger than you think! I can’t wait to hear how you harness “Murphy’s Law”
and use it for God’s glory!



Megan Ann