A girlfriend made a post on Facebook this week about how she was insulted by a nosey shopper at the grocery store. Of course, in the moment, the shock of this man’s lack of tact left her without a good comeback during the appropriate comeback window of opportunity. However, she did think of a great return insult after the time had already passed. Such a response would’ve left the personal space intruder just as dumbfounded as the unsolicited counsel that he imposed on her otherwise pleasant shopping trip. Her synopsis of the whole ordeal: “Life is full of so many missed opportunities.”
I had one of those events occur this week. Someone who knows very little about the military, as well as very little about me, tried to console me in my distress of being married to a military man. She went on and on, having complete lack of experience on the subject, but in full control of shoving her foot deeper and deeper into her own mouth. I practiced my smile and nod technique very carefully, focusing mostly on my facial expressions. I tried to keep the “micro-expressions” at bay as she said things that were not only completely off base, but also insulting, hurtful, and a tad bit psychologically disturbing. I felt my head tilt to the side, my eyebrow lift, and my eyes grow wide as she spoke about a subject that is extremely sensitive to anyone that actually knows anything about it first-hand. I could’ve silenced her with my colorful rhetoric based on personal stories and only a mere partial comprehension on the issue, myself. In my head, I had a spaced out look on my face, wearing a sign in my eyes that read, “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know me. You don’t know my husband. You don’t know the military. And you don’t know this subject. Just stop. And please, please I beg of you, don’t talk about this with anyone else, ever again.” But in actuality, I had a partial, sympathizing grin plastered over my gritting teeth, and I was nodding to the beat of “Hey Soul Sister” which was playing ever so faintly in the background.
My girlfriend jokingly called them “missed opportunities,” but I like to refer to them as “grace opportunities.” It takes grace and tact that only years of being silenced can produce. In this lifestyle, we have no say-so. I don’t even know where I’m going to be living when the next season knocks at my door. I have no choice over it either. It doesn’t matter where the best school is, where the housing market is at its peak for buyers, or where I can find raw milk and a good, honest, local farming community. I can’t force my own perspective on the wounds of war onto my husband. I can’t tell him what he should do with his career. I can’t do anything to stop the funds from seeping out of the holes in the government’s military budget. I can’t start a petition to make people care about and help with my son’s permanent damage that this unpredictable, unstoppable deployment has inflicted on his fragile, “seven and three-quarters” year-old heart. There’s nothing I can do to change our circumstances, so I’m just quiet. I spent the first few years talking and trying to say everything. I’ve talked my voice raw in the past, and now I know the benefits of silence.
As I drove home, with the radio off, I played a whispering game with the boys. They played along, no questions asked. Then, after we pulled into the driveway, and I turned off the engine, we sat there completely quiet for a moment. No one could stop what happened next. Not that foot-in-mouth woman, not the nosey guy from the grocery store, not the neighbors, not a 5 star general, not the government, not even the president. The only one that could control the next few seconds was the Holy Spirit, and he was whispering gently in my ear. He counted down from 3, 2, 1 and I started to yell at the top of my lungs,
Then silence again.
We each took a deep breath. I opened the door, helped my youngest out of his car seat, and we walked into the house talking in a normal tone about the plans for the evening,
“Take off your shoes, brush teeth, Jammies, and climb into bed. I’ll be right there to tuck you guys in.”
“…a time to be quiet and a time to speak.” -Ecclesiastes 3:7b
Activity #63: Date Night with my Son
My oldest son has been having a rough time getting back into routine since my husband left, and it’s been causing a lot of friction between the two of us these past couple of weeks. He has been super mouthy lately, and the back-talking has gotten out of control. I found myself constantly telling him not to do or say certain things, and the broken record feeling was driving me nuts. Finally, I thought I’d try something new. Instead of telling him what not to do and what he was grounded from doing. I decided to tell him what TO do. I know that I am raising someone’s husband, and I think that it’s high time he begin learning how to woo his future wife. Practice makes perfect, and I’d rather him practice chivalry than rolling his eyes and slamming his door. The teenage years are going to creep up before I know it, and now is the time to start teaching him the ropes of dating, the reasons for dating, and the rules for dating someone’s daughter. I told him a few basics, and said I’d be waiting in my room whenever he was ready to pick me up. He called his Nana for a few pointers, and when a friend stopped by, during my waiting-in-my-room time, he pulled her in for some help setting up.
My son is almost 8 years old, and had his first date with his mom. I’d consider it a success! Next time, I’m going to teach him how to cook something for a date. We talked about why people date, and how to properly say goodnight to a girl. He walked me to my bedroom door, gave me a hug, and thanked me for joining him. I explained how he could get bonus points if he really liked the girl. He knows to 1) plan date number 2 before date number 1 ends, and 2) send her flowers the next day to let her know that you’re thinking about her. I know that with practice, he’ll be an excellent boyfriend and husband one day. But for today, I enjoyed watching my 7 year old play baseball with the neighbor boys, and yes, even fighting with his little brother. Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway.