It had happened again. I was on trial before the jurors of my field, and my sentence was read. “Not Hired.” Only it wasn’t read; instead, yet again, the declaration took the form of deafening silence, without so much as a glance in my direction.
Fifteen job applications later, there I was. Defeated. Questioning my capability and whether I had truly done anything worthwhile with my 24 short years of life. Wondering if my pride was overwhelming my willingness to seek out more reasonable job opportunities. Ashamed at my lack of success when the whole world around me reveled in their successful, post-college careers via Instagram.
I am naturally what you’d call a high achiever and career-oriented. The question for me has always been, “What’s next?” Or in other words, what else can I achieve?
On June 3, 2017, I married a Marine. And the answer to my “What’s next?” seemed to be “Nothing.”
I was convinced that we could figure out how to be a part of the military, but not really let it fully infiltrate our way of living.
However, post-wedding, I looked at my day-to-day life and saw that most of the things I loved had been stripped away. Friends, a career, confidence, location, and of course, consistency in a schedule. I looked at my life, and the only thing I truly loved about it was my husband.
As someone who struggles regularly with depression, both because of and outside of circumstances, emotional stability had disappeared. Here I was, four months into marriage to my favorite person on the planet, feeling like David in Psalm 69 when he said,
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.
Hopeless is the word to describe how I felt. Knowing that I could not change my circumstances, no matter how hard I tried. Half the time I stuck my head in the sand, pretending they didn’t exist. I wallowed in self-pity, in disappointment, in silence, in isolation, and in anger.
My husband and I both felt a little like Job as we struggled through why God just wasn’t allowing even the simplest things to work out okay. For just one aspect of our circumstances to go right. As my husband pointed out to me one day, the Bible often describes challenging times as being in a valley or a desert. We literally lived in Yucca Valley in the high desert outside of Twentynine Palms. Could it get any more real than that?
It took 5 months and my husband to deploy for me to fully believe one very important Truth:
God has you exactly where you are supposed to be.
Even if you think you’re eventually supposed to work in international affairs and there is no way living in Twentynine Palms is going to help you achieve those goals.
Even if it means sacrificing every single thing in your life that is remotely familiar to you.
Even if it means fill in the blank.
There are no conditions. There are no surprises to God. I wish I could tell you exactly why it finally clicked. Or how I’m finally feeling a little bit of peace about not meeting my own unreasonable expectations for success.
For the first time in my entire life, I am not striving. I am not seeking God for the sole purpose of gaining answers, but I am learning about and listening to God’s expectations of me, and doing my best to follow those. That is it. In this moment, I am confident in two things:
- He has called me to be a military spouse.
- He has called me to pursue Him.
As for my desires for a career, a community, a great church, and so on and so forth, I have no idea. I don’t know what I’ll be doing for the rest of our time in the desert. I don’t know if I’ll be using my graduate degree or not. But now that I’ve accepted that God has me where He wants me, as a military spouse in Twentynine Palms, I am all in on His plan, not mine.
With that acceptance comes a two-part blessing: peace and a newfound mission of stepping off the sidelines and investing into this military community of which I so reluctantly became a member.
We talk about having adventure in life and I’ve finally discovered mine: living life in the military not as a defeated observer, but as a joyful participant. Here I go!
Joi is a lover of true country music, most things political and policy related, The West Wing, and libraries full of the world’s greatest literature. She and her Marine, who have been married for less than a year, met while running against each other to be elected student body president of their university.