On Deployment, and Hard Stories

January 27, 2016

Deployment is a cornerstone of our story. The story I am working on in book form. Miscarriages. Moves. Deployment. Loss. So much grief. So much grace. I’ve shared bits and pieces of the beginning here in this space, but now I am a wee bit stuck. See, now I have to write this story. And truthfully, eight years later, I am still searching for the right words to tell you how my deployment changed me, as a Christian, as a mother, as a soldier.

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I love stories and storytelling. I love seeing the threads the Master Planner stitched into our lives and the ways they change us.  But in all honesty, here’s the truth about the weaving … I didn’t design my tapestry this way. And the push pull of the needle as it pricks my heart – well, sometimes the weaving hurts.

There’s a particular thread that, for the longest time, I wanted to wish away. I prayed, begged, and pleaded for the Lord to cut it short. To change my story to fit what I wanted.

I’ve been staring at my computer for months trying to figure out how to fit all the emotions onto one screen, into one story. This takes up whole chapters in our narrative. 

How do I tell you that they called me when my daughter was five months old and told me I would be deploying in the fall.

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{I was an Army National Guard Helicopter pilot at the time}.

How do I tell you we already knew Husband, an active duty helicopter pilot, was scheduled for deployment in the fall.  

Is it possible for you to feel the way I felt, bewildered and still surprised, when I I climbed on a plane headed overseas. I truly believed God would take this away. I thought this would go away if I said all the right things about God’s plan and His Will and trust and sacrifice and all the other Christian buzzwords that sound great and echo hollow in our reeling hearts.

I was like Abraham, waiting for the lamb while I offered up my child. And when none came, when I waded through a long summer of preparation and emotion, oh, I was so angry.

I didn’t want to leave her. And I said all the right things about duty, and my job, and what I signed up for, but I’ll be honest with you … I never, for one second, thought it would happen to me. That’s another story for another day, but I really thought I would just sail through this Army life and have all the fun flying and none of the sacrifice. I was selfish, so selfish.

My sister and her husband took our daughter for a year. She was one and a half.

pre deployment, J girl, Baptism, handmade I cried salty, unceasing tears through all the airports with the memory of her chubby arms squeezed around my neck in our last goodnights.

Layered under all those tears was the fear of a final, forever goodbye. A fear born of experience and loss. 

We got her back when she was two and a half.

post deployment, J girlThere will never be enough words to tell you how that felt. I tried, I am still trying, even now, to tell that piece of the story.

It took me two years to stop being angry, and I still grieve the loss of time with my child. It took me two years and then some to understand, and be grateful for the Stories He is writing for me and my family.

That’s the end thread of this story … I am grateful. For the humbling of my selfish heart. For the dismantling of my pride … even for the two and a half year spread between children that resulted in the gift of our first son. A loosely formed human shape of sweat and noise that wholly owns my heart.

The stories we fear become our Story and the hard parts change us, they carve into our souls and make new shapes-and maybe the mystery is that I am grateful for the shape I’m in, but I’m just honest enough to admit that most days, I wouldn’t have chosen His method of carving.

I can grieve, and be grateful.

Pray for me as I find the words to share with you how much grace we’ve been given in the face of so much fear.

~M.

(Portions of this originally appeared on www.cmwives.org).

My girl is 8 and counting. She lives big and loves those on the margins, and she will POSE HARD for a picture.

post deployment, J girl, vacation, beach trip

Always has, always will. Take a walk through her years with me. 

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More about Molly Huggins

I am an unrepentant extrovert with an ongoing, passionate affair with coffee, ellipses, and the written word. I write because it’s how I’m made to worship. I am a story teller, because redemption has a story to tell. And always, I want to be a story collector. So have a virtual seat at my beat-up kitchen table. Read my story. Tell me yours. Stay awhile. And P.S. ... for more about me, click on my mug in the sidebar;)

2 Comments
    1. Oh, Molly. I had no idea you two were both gone at the same time- I actually didn’t think that could happen! I know you are struggling writing this bit but only because you say so- you are doing an amazing job based on this post. Your words are beautiful and honest and raw… and heavy with emotion and aching and hope.

    1. I have contemplated commenting on this post for days–I simply do not have the words to express what I feel upon reading this…It is rare that I feel silenced (by awe). I can bring myself to say this, Molly: Thank you, beyond words, thank you for your willingness to serve and your sacrifice. I echo others who have asked: “Where do we get men and women such as this?”

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