It’s a Thursday that feels like a Monday and I don’t know how else to say it. The power turned off last night at 4:00 in the morning which woke all the girls up, good morning mama, let’s begin our day. A day it will be, a day for the books, really- one kid has been sick since actual February and we’re sitting in the doctor’s office, minutes ticking by- keep it together, Sarah, just keep it together.
I, miracle of miracles, do.
The girls, of course, don’t.
And so when Mae loses her mind in the waiting room it’s all I can do to not burst into tears myself. This is the moment when I would call him, I think. Right now is when I would call Lane’s phone and say drop what you’re doing, I’ve hit my limit, your turn.
I, of course, can’t, so I, of course, don’t.
Option B, instead: Hit your limit, get through it, discover you have a new, bigger limit.
How? By doing what anyone would do in the same situation: What you have to.
It’s happened before and it will happen again. Rather than being defeating though, I think this helped me, actually: We’ll make it through, I know we will; we’ve done it before, you see?
We’ll do it again.
I tell some friends about that moment- the one I almost lost it but didn’t; about how I wanted to break, but couldn’t. I tell them I just found a way and I wish there was more of a formula to it but there’s not.
When you’re faced with a moment that’s too hard, you just make the choice to get through it because you have to.
Is there another way to do the hard things in life?
Well, yes and no.
It’s a Monday night, our soccer kids are practicing as the sun is setting, and we’re chatting on the bleachers. Life seems hard, military life is hard- will it always be hard?- and our conversation reflects that: We talk about our military husbands and some reasons we’re worried about them, we talk about our military marriages and how they’re doing, we talk about an incident and where we were when we got the news.
I ask her what it was like to get that call from her husband.
“Well, I’d rather get a phone call than a knock on the door, you know what I mean?”
What was that about life being hard?
Tears fly instant to my eyes because it’s real and it’s true but there’s a part of me that just can’t believe it’s our real and true life.
The ref blows a whistle, the kids run wild as they break for water, aircraft flies above us, our conversation pauses.
It occurs to me that this probably isn’t the typical conversations going on at soccer practices everywhere.
And then just like that, the kids run back to the field, we look at each other, she’s crying now too.
Our conversation then drifts to other things- sick kids, places we’re volunteering, living away from home and the thought races straight through my mind: This girl is an actual superhero. I am so proud of how she’s handling this hard, hard life. Look at what she can do, watch her go.
Right after that- We’re doing the same, she and I. Our life is the same. Does that make me the same?
And so right there in the middle of the pain on the soccer bleachers, this superhero sameness does something to my soul. It’s something that feels like a spark- a reminder that if you let it, in the middle of the pain is togetherness, and from there: Strength.
All I know is this military wife’s spark helped light mine and it got me through that day.
What I’m saying?
You can do hard things, but you can’t do them alone, and that makes all the difference.
After sharing about that terrible doctor’s visit, I end up talking to friends at the park, the pool, on Instagram, and one by one I hear stories from military wife after military wife about when they wanted to quit, when they had to find a way, that they’re hitting their limit right now too.
There’s one thousand reasons why- the sick kid she’s tending to, the classes she’s taking, the broken-hearted kid who just wants their daddy, the balancing acts and homes to take care of and hours up at night and the list goes on.
Here’s what I realize because of it: How very many of us are not quitting.
When I was in the waiting room that day, feeling like I was doing it all alone with those kids, it wasn’t true, not really. Friends had been in that same exact waiting room, in those same exact chairs. When I was at my limit, others had felt their limit too, at one time or another.
What I’m saying?
This is one of the few things I know is true: Life is hard but we’re not alone.
I look at all of them and this never-alone-ness becomes more than just a fuzzy feeling, it gives me actual courage to live this good, hard life and live it well and to keep on living it.
We can do this life because we’re doing it together and there’s just really no other explanation for it other than that and it feels like a bit of a miracle on a Thursday if you ask me.
Do you see it?
Because I look at you, and you are an absolute wonder.
I see you reach your own limit and then find more to give.
I see you break and then find a way to put others together too.
I see your exhaustion but still you pour out.
I see when you show up when you’d rather quit.
I see you doing what you never thought you could-
And you’re just such a wonder and I wonder if you see it, too: You lovely brave one, your life is lighting a fire in mine.
I can be brave because I see you be brave first, be brave too, be brave alongside me.
I can do this because I see you do this too, stay strong too, not quit too.
I can keep going in this military life because I look to my left and my right and see you keep going too.
So when people look at me and ask how I do this, isn’t this military life hard?
I don’t have to think for two seconds, I know exactly how I do this.
I do it because I get to, choose to, want to.
Also? It’s because of you, don’t you see?
So- lovely brave one:
Keep going, light that fire, your grit gives me mine.
And as we light it up together, doing hard things and doing them side by side, don’t you know our military kids and our military husbands and maybe even more at their limit, in the middle of their hard, at the end of their rope will also be able to say
Look at what she can do, watch her go…
Maybe I can do it too.
Struggling with the demands and depletion of military life? Maybe this will help: 5 Ways I Stay Sane in the Military Life. Click here and I will quietly send it straight to your inbox.
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