Saturday, March 28, 2015

This is not my calling...or is it?

I grew up in a military town. In fact, I grew up a few miles from the largest naval base in the world. Naturally military families have been a big part of my life. A a child, I had many friends who were around for a few years then moved across the country or even the globe. I had a hard time dealing with the loss of friends. We would do our best to keep in touch, but our relationships were never as close as when they lived near me. When I was ten years old, after going through the cycle of making and losing friends many times, I decided that I would NEVER marry a military man. I was convinced that I was not cut out for that kind of thing and did not want my children to have to deal with the pain of their friends leaving and more importantly their dad leaving for months at a time.

Fast forward eleven years and I met a wise, handsome, God fearing man named Anthony. I met him in a life group (fancy term for Bible study) at the church I had just started attending. He seemed like a neat guy. The only downside was that he was in the military. I was interested, but that whole military thing was really a bummer for me. He was shy, so despite the fact that I thought he was interested in me, I did not think he would ever ask me out. To my delight, I was wrong. He got out of active duty service and a few months later asked me out! I thought the stars had aligned and this would be perfect! In all honesty I wasn't quite so naive, but for at least a few moments I was. I remember thanking God for His perfect timing. What time could be better to start a relationship with the man of my dreams?!? He told me that he got out of active duty service to start going to school because he thought God had called him to be a chaplain in the military. After many conversations, I got the feeling that there was some flexibility with that calling, so I did not worry about it. Maybe God was calling him to chaplaincy, but maybe for a hospital or police department instead of the military.

Anthony went back to school to finish his bachelor's degree in the spring of 2009, eleven months before we were married. He started out with a lot of gen eds and I was pretty confident that he had heard God wrong and would be re-directed at some point. I thought maybe this was just the push to get him to stay in Virginia or go to Regent. Either way I was fine with it. I just knew that if God was really calling him to chaplaincy that He would show me too. And I was 99.9% sure he was NOT calling me to be a military wife.

After his first year or so at Regent he had to specify which track he was going to be on and chose Biblical studies. Again, I was not too concerned. I thought maybe being a pastor's wife wouldn't be bad. I grew up in the church, I know a lot of scripture and good Biblical teaching, and I love the Lord. That could work, right? I know a lot of pastor's wives who are amazing women and I'm sure I could call on them for advice and/or comfort if I needed help. It's not really what I envisioned for my life, but I thought it could be a good place to be. As the years past, and he got closer to graduation his desire to be a chaplain grew. My aversion to it also grew. I can't count the number of times I broke down crying at the thought of him going back into the military. I thought chaplains were needed, but I thought that was a job for another guy, another family. I prayed that the Lord would show me what He wanted, but I also prayed that it wouldn't be military service. At this point, you may be thinking I'm a whiny, selfish woman who lacks any hint of patriotism. And if I'm honest, at least the first two things are mostly true. I've spent countless hours of thinking what is best for MY family. I love people and want to be a blessing, but I really did not think I was even capable of handling the life of a military wife. I often said to my husband "I didn't marry you so that you could leave me! I didn't want kids so that I could raise them alone!" That's embarrassing to admit now, but that was how I was feeling. I felt like his choice to be in the military knowing what it would cost our family was selfish and not what God wanted for us. (Please bare with me and try not to get angry with me. I know a lot of military wives are probably reading this.)

Deployments are one of my biggest fears of entering active duty military life. They are not easy and they aren't meant to be easy. The military wants to keep sailors "uncomfortable" so that if they are called to battle they will be emotionally ready for the separation from family and home. That makes sense, but I always thought that life wasn't for me. Also, moving every few years was not something I had any interest in doing. I like where I live. My parents and sisters are all within twenty minutes of me and most of us see each other a few times a week. I love being close to my family. It's such a comforting thing with all that life throws at us. Plus there are very practical reasons for having family close. Especially now that I have children. My family and friends (many of whom I've know for many years) has been a huge help. If I'm sick and need help, or when I've been in the hospital delivering my babies, when I've wanted a date night, or when I've been overwhelmed I've always had someone to call. Someone that I trusted and who genuinely enjoyed being with me and/or my children. Family is a beautiful thing and I always wanted to be close to them. I still do.

My strong feelings about what military life would be like and what I thought the costs would be made me feel quite certain that I was not reading this wrong, until God lovingly smacked me in the face a couple times...ok, maybe more than a couple. I'm not sure when He started working on me, but it's been quite the process. I have resisted this with every fiber of my being. I've tried to reason with Anthony and prove to him that this was not right for us. That he had somehow misread the "feelings" God had given him. In an attempt to try to be submissive, I started going to a military care group for military wives. I decided thought that if I was supposed to be a military wife I should talk to other wives and learn more. Be more prepared, but I was also secretly hoping that God would confirm what I was already sure I knew: military life is not for the Lucarelli family. I met a wonderful group of women in this group. They were open and honest and I found that all of them thought life in the military was hard. One of the woman was having a rough time. Her husband had been deployed for over a year and still had a couple more months to go. Another talked about the hardship of having to move every two or three years. The actual process of moving, finding schools for her kids, making new friends, finding a new church, etc. I kept hearing story after story of things these women were dealing with. The more I heard the more emotional I became. I remember one night on the drive home from this group, Anthony asked me how I was liking the group and I just started balling. It wasn't so much a sad cry as an angry one. I was angry with Anthony for being okay with dragging me into a life I didn't want. For being okay with leaving me and his children for months at a time. For being okay with uprooting us every few years. For thinking more about the sailors than his own family. I was so not okay with that.

In the Summer of 2012, Anthony started his Masters of Divinity. At that point I realized that I really needed to come to terms with the fact that military life would most likely be a part of our future. I had the choice to support my husband or continue to fight him. Up until that point I had thought I was being smart. I was making sure he understood the cons and making him see that the cons really did outweigh the pros. God helped me to realize that I was the selfish one. I was making Anthony drag me, because I didn't want to believe where God was calling him. Where God had in fact called our family. Over the last three years, God has taken me on this journey towards submission to my husband. I hesitate to use that term, because I think our society has given it a bad connotation, but nonetheless that's what He's done. When I married my husband, I told him he was the leader of our house, but when things weren't going my way I tried taking it back.  I believed that I knew what was best for our family, not him. I had to apologize to him for my attitude and for my resistance. And I gave him back the tile of "leader" in our home. That was a really big step for me, and I'm so glad God brought me to the place where I could do that. Ever since that moment, I've been trying to see what God would have me do to support my husband, to learn about military life, to meet the needs of military family. He's given me a bigger soft spot for the military. I'm excited to see what place God will give me to serve and excited about possibly being a support to military wives who maybe are where I was a year or so ago (fighting my husband and the life God called us to).

I know the real work and test is still to come, since he is not active duty yet. I'm amazed at how much God has changed my heart so far. Getting to the point of surrender has been hard, and I will probably need to keep surrendering as things get tough. I know that He is not done with me yet and I still have a long way to go on this journey. I am no longer afraid of the future and I no longer dread it. God knows what is truly best for my family. His will may not be the most comfortable thing for our family, but it is what I want. I pray that I would be able to keep saying that no matter what comes! Here's to turning over a new leaf of surrender and hope for the future. Bring on military life!

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Family=My Mission Field

Over the past couple of weeks I've been thinking a lot about missions trips and how neat it would be to go on one. My husband is working on coordinating a missions trip to Ghana at work and my church is doing a missions trip to Kenya. The longing to go is stronger than it’s been in years, but honestly I’m not really in a position to go. I have an almost four month old baby that I’m nursing and I have two other small children to take care of. I caught myself fantasizing about having the freedom to just go, when I was reminded that I’m already on the mission field. My children, my husband, my family-they are my mission field. It’s not as “glamorous” or awe-inspiring as feeding orphans, teaching scripture, building houses, or any other thing I’d do halfway across the world, but it’s just as important. I have three small children that as of right now do not fully understand the love of Christ. They can’t comprehend the meaning of Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sinful ways. I doubt they can even grasp the idea that they do sin! They don’t understand that He came to show us mercy not condemnation. Right now, I am the Jesus that they see. Before they can understand Love (Jesus is Love) on a mental level, they will experience and see it through others. I’m the person they see most. I am Christ's representative. I get to show them His love. I have to ask myself, “Am I showing them love like Jesus’ love?” Many times throughout my day the answer to that is, unfortunately, “No!” But loving my children is my mission nonetheless. I need to remind myself frequently that motherhood is not about what I get from my children, it’s about what I can give. They bring me immense joy, but many days I feel like I’m getting fussiness, frustration, and fatigue in a higher dose. Sometimes it’s hard to look at my messy house, the mediocre meal I threw together five minutes before my husband was supposed to get home, or even my chubby body, and think “Yes, this is what God called me to!” I definitely don’t feel like I can say “Nail it!” Honestly, a lot of the time I feel like a pretty sucky mom and especially housekeeper. I don’t feel like I can handle motherhood without a lot of help from my husband and so I feel majorly inadequate. My house is proof that I don’t have it all together. At the end of the day all I want to do is veg out on the couch with my husband. I have a hard time forcing myself to do anything once I sit down. Motherhood is not easy and it’s not always fun, but it is my mission. I will not always be “in the trenches” like another mom so eloquently put it, but it’s where I am now. I was asked the other day if there “are some areas of your life where you don’t feel you have the tools or skills to make a difference?” At the time I couldn't think of anything specific, but I think motherhood is the biggest area of my life where I can say that is true. I don’t have everything figured out and I never will, and that can be discouraging. But there is so much hope in knowing God will never leave us to do His work alone. He is by my side every minute of every day. He is there to guide me. He is there to help me stay calm when I feel like I’m going to explode. He is there to hold me in His arms when I’m so tired, that all I can do is fall on the couch in a heap of tears. He is with me! He is with you! Wherever you are right now, He is with you. How awesome is that!?!