Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hope on the Horizon

          A little less than five years ago, Ryan and I made the decision to get out of the active duty Army in order for him to pursue a bachelor's degree so we could get back in the military, Air Force the next time, and eventually commission as an officer. We had sat down with Bob and Becky Clinton, friends we both really admired and respected, and with their help, mapped out our future. As we went home and prayed about it, we felt a calm assurance that we were on a good path.
          We lost sight of that goal once, when Ryan was burning out a bit from doing school non-stop two years in a row. And I had gotten used to having him around. But it only took six months of deviance for us to remember the path we had started on and why we had chosen it. The move to Las Cruces was, as we felt, inspired.  It was even quite effortless. Everything fell into place so beautifully for us to be here.
          In August 2011, Ryan began his final semester for his bachelor's degree. In preparation, he also began talking to an Air Force recruiter. He told Ryan to wait to submit any paperwork until October when the new fiscal year for the military began. So we waited. Ryan jumped through hoop after hoop, and finally, on the day when his classmates were walking the line at graduation, he was being poked and prodded as he was processed into the military. We were so excited! This is what we had worked so hard for. We were promised orders in about a week. That was December 9th. As time went on, the days got longer and the military vacation window drew nearer, until finally we were told we would not hear anything about orders until after the new year.
          That's okay, we thought. It was the last step to achieving what we set out to achieve all those years ago.  We were in. We just needed the assignment. All our hopes were centered around receiving those orders. And then, Ryan got a call. Turned out the job he was promised was no longer available. The only thing available was EOD. So, Ryan went down to the recruiter's office to get the full story. Apparently guys had been "shuffled around" and now contracting wasn't available, only EOD. No thank you, Ryan said. Complete deal breaker. EOD is explosives ordnance disposal. The Marine recruiter next door came in and tried to convince him to take it. And Ryan said maybe if he didn't have a family he would have considered it. But because of his family, it wasn't even an option. Sgt. Ullmann agreed to see if he could get him SERE Instructor instead. So Ryan came home and told me the news. I didn't take it very well, to say the least. I just sat on my bed and cried. This wasn't part of the deal! But if he could get SERE Instructor, it was still better than EOD, better than nothing! And Ryan, being the wonderful man that he is, looked me in the eye and said, "Well, maybe we can make someone else happy today instead. Let's finish building Soquel's desk." Eli came over and he helped Ryan out and kept us company.
          Then at lunch we received the call, the final blow. There were no jobs left. Ryan would not be receiving orders at this time. Now we were in full panic mode. At least I was. Ryan was patient enough to not freak out until all the details came in. Unfortunately, we haven't received any details of explanation. It felt like Ryan had just lost his job. We were counting on this job for so many things -- health insurance, dental, income. We could wait patiently and stretch our pennies the thinnest we've ever stretched them so long as we knew we just had to wait for orders. Knowing they weren't coming; that was cruel. I felt like everything we had worked towards got all shaken up. Snatched away at the last second. I was so ready for the next chapter to begin. To be done with the student-with-a-family lifestyle. To be on to the career stage. I was ready to put on my support-my-hubby-in-training hat. The doing-it-all-because-it's-gotta-get-done hat. I was ready to start packing and start the new adventure of life back in the military. After seven years in the Army and Reserves, I knew what I was getting into, and I had a plan. I had my good attitude ready. My optimism was ready. And we had told EVERYBODY who would listen how excited we were.
           Eli started mentioning the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other government agencies who were always looking for someone with military experience and a degree. We tucked that info away, but felt deeply the loss of this opportunity. We wanted to blame someone, so we blamed Obama. The day before he signed the new Defense budgets, and then there were no jobs. It made sense in my mind. This was his fault. I let everyone know on Facebook that we weren't getting orders. My sister called to check in on me. It was sweet of her to do so. However, my emotions were so raw and chafed that I couldn't express calmly the disappointment and panic I felt. All our eggs were in this one basket and they all got dropped. I was devastated. She ended up hanging up on me, which I probably deserved. I was struggling to hang on to my surety in faith that the confirmation we felt at the beginning, and even just a year ago, was still there. I was struggling to keep a smile on my face for the sake of my children and husband. And I just couldn't do it. The dust was too thick. I couldn't see anything past my own anxiety. I couldn't see past my anger at the loss of this opportunity. At the timing of it. A few minutes later, Kris called, and it was like she had put a warm blanket on me and she just let me cry there on the phone with her. After a really good cry and a nap, the dust began to settle and I could finally see that the world was not about to end after all. I could see that Heavenly Father might be protecting us from something if we had gotten what we wanted right now. Tina checked in on me, too, and it was good to talk through Plan Right Now. Ryan had given me a blessing, in which he said there was "hope on the horizon" and that the issue of his job would be soon resolved. I needed to put my faith in that.
          We finished Soquel's desk and seeing her face when we delivered it was absolutely wonderful. It is a really good feeling to help someone else be happy. Ryan started looking around different government agency websites and found some really cool jobs. When we first found out Ryan wasn't getting orders, my initial thought was that we weren't worthy of the blessings yet. And then Ryan found a job that was the same as the one he was hoping to get in the Air Force. And then I though, maybe Heavenly Father really does having something even better than what we originally hoped for. Maybe we weren't unworthy. Maybe we were just being shortsighted and we needed to take the Air Force blinders off. So we decided we ought to quit feeling sorry for ourselves, refocus our faith and started coming up with Plans B, C, D, and E. Maybe the Air Force will come around. Maybe it won't. But at least we will be doing something. With his degree, Ryan is far more marketable. And I have to thank Heavenly Father for that direction at the very least. He would not qualify for any of the jobs he is now applying for without his degree. That foundation is still standing.
          Our home teachers came to see us and shared with us President Monson's message of the ABCs of faith. That we can choose to have a good Attitude. That we need to Believe we can do the things we set out to do. And that we need to have Courage. The more time we have to think about it, the more possibilities open up. In some ways it feels like we are back on square one, trying to choose a direction for career and future. But in other ways, it feels like we are armed quite a bit better this time around. After a blessing from Brother Peterson for Ryan, and the good, timely counsel we received, we truly feel like there is hope on the horizon. Smiles and laughter have returned. Goals are being worked towards. We don't have all the answers, but we know it will be ok. Heavenly Father has shown His hand in our lives too many times for us to ever doubt Him.


Cristine said...

I'm sorry things didn't go as you had planned but I am so happy to see that you guys are feeling better about the situation. Your faith is inspiring. I will continue to keep you guys in my prayers.

Norris Family said...

Sorry to hear that your initial plan didn't go as wanted, but glad to know that with faith in our Father in Heaven better things will come even if it is a bit cloudy at first, the sun will eventually shine again. It looks like it is starting to break through the clouds for you now. Love you guys.

Becky Clinton said...

Anna, I want to be just like you when I grow up. I love your faith (OK, we all have pity parties now and then and faith steps out for a minute or two) and your patience, and I'm so proud of you and Ryan for staying tough - courage - when it would be easy to throw up your hands and surrender. You are right - there is something wonderful out there just waiting for you and Ryan to stumble over.

The end of this blog entry is followed by the perfect picture of you and Ryan. Just keep looking at that. It says "hope."

Millers! said...

I love you guys!!! everything will work out and you will look back at this and just remember it as a blessing in disguise! you guys are a great example of courage and faith. just like George Michael says, Gotta have faith-a, faith-a, Faith-a~

Stephanie Milberger said...

I'm sorry things didn't work out as planned but I'm glad you guys see the other opportunities the Lord has in store. I love you!

Melissa said...

I'm so glad you posted your feelings...what an awful ordeal! I'm so very sorry this is happening but I'm praying that hope will be on the horizon SOON!

The Whetten Family said...

I love the way lesa words things. George Micheal said it well. Anna I agree with you. Your Amazing and Ryan will be blessed with something much more worthy of his talents and time. LOVE U

Miriam said...

Your Heavenly Father knows, just like I do, that you are amazing, and amazing things will happen to you. They just will. I love you and will keep you in our prayers :)

RachelBQuist said...

Oh how frustrating! There's nothing like financial uncertainty to shake your faith. I've been there a couple times but nothing like this. I'm proud of Ryan for getting his degree. It was a smart move. He's a smart guy and you guys will go where the Lord wants you to go. :) Maybe the draw of the Air Force was the push Ryan needed to get his degree and without it he wouldn't have.. who knows.. but things will work out. :)