Happy Birthday to Me!
Here’s one random fact about me that I absolutely love: I was born on the fourth of July! My birthday is such a huge day for our country and I would still love this holiday more than most even if my birthday didn’t fall on it. My friends have always joked around about how God knew what he was doing when he brought me into this world on this day considering how much I LOVE America. My family is all about the red, white, and blue. Both of my brothers are in the military, my favorite shows are all about protecting the United States, and my dad even has a ridiculously huge American pride tattoo. It seems fitting that I would be born on a day that is so celebrated by proud Americans.
As this year’s birthday approached I was very uneasy about how and what I would be doing. Kyle would start NAVY Basic Training on July 3 and I did not know what shape I would be in on my birthday. I made the decision that I would not be alone on that day no matter how I felt emotionally or physically. If anything, I needed to celebrate the country that my family feels so passionately about – the country my husband enlisted to fight for. So when I got ready for the events of July 4, I kept focusing on America not my birthday. In hindsight that seemed so ridiculous but for whatever reason, it made getting dressed tear-free.
The friends that I have in California are incredible. Absolutely supportive and ridiculously fun. When I woke on the fourth, I had seven text messages waiting for me – all inquiring what my plans were for breakfast. Can you imagine how much that blessed me? I actually started the day off with grocery shopping, a 3 mile run and a shower. Boring, right? With everything in my life feeling out of my control it felt powerful to have the right to make my own plans for my morning. The NAVY has my husband, but I can buy whatever food I feel like eating. The NAVY is probably putting my husband through Hell, so my feet can give these next three miles a huge smack down. The NAVY gets the best man God’s made, but I can shower whenever I feel like it for however long I want. This may not make sense to you, but that’s what I had running through my mind.
For lunch, I met up with Stacy (one of my best friends) and Jeff (her husband) for lunch at In & Out Burger, which happens to be one of the best restaurant chains on the West Coast. It had been an entire year since I last had a number two “animal style” and that was one year too long. We drove to their recently purchased home and it was so sweet to catch up with them and admire Stacy’s baby bump. We hung out at their home like it was something we did all the time; I love it when God puts friends in your life that you can pick up right where you left off like nothing has ever happened. Sitting on her couch and laughing were some of the sweetest moments I had experienced since arriving back in this state.
That evening we drove to a huge sports park in my home town to meet up with a bunch of friends to watch the fireworks. Kate, one of my dearest friends from High School who had been living overseas for almost the last decade, came to the park to celebrate my birthday too! She was a sight for sore eyes, that’s for sure.
As the night progressed, more and more people that I loved showed up to watch the fireworks show. I kept finding myself lost in fun conversations, laughing, jumping around with excitement for other people’s lives and for my own, and visiting everyone as they emerged to our spot on the lawn. My friends surprised me with a small cake and cupcakes for all the guests, and an overwhelmingly large group of people that loved me gathered and sang “happy birthday” to me; in fact I think strangers joined in the loud chanting as well. The night went by quickly and I was surprised at how much fun I had. I drove home and fell asleep almost immediately after my head hit the pillow.
One of my deepest prayers before God since my husband enlisted in the NAVY was that He would convince me that I could handle being a NAVY wife. I sincerely struggled to believe that I had the kind of backbone that NAVY wives needed to endure everyday. When I imagined my life as a military wife I felt overwhelmed; I believed my life would be sad and overcome by feelings that I was alone. So once it was official that my husband was enlisted, my knees hit the floor hard in prayer. For months my prayers were variations of the following requests:
Jesus, please, please, please convince me that I have what it takes to have a happy life as a NAVY wife. Show me that while my husband is away that my life will not be full of sadness and grief, but one of joy and peace. Encourage me, please God. Amen.”
When I woke on Thursday I went out into my parents’ living room and was greeted by my mom. “How was your birthday, sweetie? Tell me all about your night.” I smiled ear to ear and told her all the fun details and started to laugh when reliving some of the conversations of the night before. Once I realized how smiley I was, I excused myself back into the room I was staying in. I shut the door and quietly lost it. I felt guilty. Oh, so guilty – Shame on me for being so genuinely happy without my husband on my birthday! I must be a terrible wife to have that great of a time while my husband is getting his butt kicked at Boot Camp. If I truly loved my husband as much as other women love their husbands then my birthday would have been a bummer. Wow, I really must suck.
Almost immediately after I thought all that, I spent some of the best moments I have ever had in the presence of God. I felt His peace in such a real way and I stopped crying. I felt comforted by Him, and knew in my heart that God had given to me a birthday that I deserved. I felt ridiculous for feeling guilty and for feeling like a bad wife for being happy while my husband was away. It’s my right as a child of God to have a joyful life. My husband’s current locations on this globe should not dictate my happiness. God knows that we love each other so much and no distance can break that. In those precious moments, God began to convince me that I indeed have what it takes to be a strong, brave, happy NAVY wife.
I got up off the floor and walked back into my parent’s kitchen and poured some coffee. Knowing that my deepest prayer was answered just a few seconds prior to serving my caffeine addiction put a special spring in my step, and I smiled as I started my day as a child of God and as a NAVY wife. In that order.