My yoga instructor read an interesting anecdote the other day about starting over. The gist of her story was “Why wait? Start living more healthfully now.” This Army lifestyle seems to force us to start over us every couple of years or so. When I was in the Army, I thought changing units was a great way to leave behind all the silly mistakes I made as a junior lieutenant. Now that I am following my husband as his career takes us around the world, I use these moves to reinvent myself, to redefine who I am and who I want to be.
Not only do I get the opportunity to re-arrange my furniture and change the color scheme of our home, but I get a make-over, too. I get to evaluate what has worked and what failed at the duty station we are leaving. I get a chance to choose what might make our lives better.
The hardest move was when I transitioned from Army officer to stay-at-home-mom. From Power Point to Brown Bear, Brown Bear. From potty mouth to Potty Training. From staff meetings to Playgroups. From sync matrices to nap schedules. From successful and respected independent female Army Officer to Mrs. Giertz. For perhaps the only time in either of our careers, we moved to a post where nobody I had ever served with was stationed. Not a single person knew of any of my accomplishments in the Army. And I felt like my identity had been erased.
About six months later, friends of ours from Germany arrived. After our first dinner together, James, who had served in Iraq with both Matt and I told his wife Kari, “I don’t know this Liz.” Gradually, I grew into this new life and started to take pride in the new Liz. I found some new friends and started to get into crafting. I thought I would try my hand at the home sales business. I realized that while I thrived on the adult interaction, I struggled with direct sales. I wasn’t very hopeful about making a full-fledged career in sales.
Then we moved again. When I hadn’t booked a party or had a sale from my web site in months, I was able to leave behind the business, thankful for the lessons learned. I then looked for other ways to fulfill my need for female adult conversation and companionship. I also had a lot more time to craft. Occasionally, I had a couple of friends over to work on cards and albums every once in a while and we all enjoyed the time. And then we moved yet again…
This time I took my budding love of crafting with me and the knowledge that I didn’t want to sell things. After a few successful DIY projects with close friends, the idea for Craft Days was born. This has been such a blessing for me, and I hope for my friends who came, too. We craft, we chat, we support and encourage, not just on creative endeavors, but in our lives. This is where I feel comfortable in my own skin. I’ve also challenged myself spiritually and physically here. I made lifelong friends forged by the shared highs and lows of a deployment. I joined PWOC and ran a sprint distance triathlon. I am writing, opening myself up to a whole new level of vulnerability. This has been a wonderful assignment for me.
I’ve also learned some not so nice things about myself. I can be good at wasting time. Retail therapy can get out of control. Mentally, I double book my time. I tend to be self-absorbed. Often I don’t listen well enough to absorb the details I should. I can be overly argumentative with my husband. I am too often short-tempered with my children.
Most recently some friends who knew me when I was in the Army and with whom our paths have crossed a couple of times since, arrived here at FT Carson. My friend told me something the other day made my heart sing. She said she and her husband, with whom I had worked in Iraq, were talking about me and what a joy it has been to watch me transition from the Army to full-time wife and Mommy. What a compliment!
Now as we are preparing to move again, I have been reflecting on who I have become and who I want to be at our next duty station. What do I want to leave behind in Colorado? How do I want to project myself to prospective new friends? How can I be a better Christian woman, wife, Mom, friend, crafter in Louisiana? How can I establish the routines of our life to best support our goals as a family?
As I started writing this the verse that kept coming back to me was something about putting on the new man. When I looked it up, I found “…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Epheisans 4:23-24 I hope and pray that as we move to FT Polk I will recreate our lives in true righteousness and holiness, so that our lives will reflect the great love of God even more than they have in any other place we have lived. But, I wonder, why do I seem to always wait to transform my life until we move? Are there not changes that could take place immediately? What is holding me back? Fear of alienating friends? Fear of giving up the comfortable? Are there changes you could make today to live more like Christ? What is your “new man”?