“Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”
Is this quote ever true for those of us living the Army life! Constant change, unpredictability, violent wars, long and grueling training – what our soldiers do affects every aspect of our lives and it makes planning ahead somewhat difficult. (Although I am preaching to the choir here!)
There have been multiple times where the Army has been an inconvenience in my relationship with The Warrior. My first experience with this, early in our dating months, was when he had to leave a day early from visiting me because staff duty got mixed up and it was actually his turn. A few months later, staff duty again unexpectedly interfered when I visited him and spent half my time there alone. When The Warrior deployed last November, the date and location got changed and I had to rearrange my work schedule…and let’s not even get into the homecoming ceremony shenanigans!
But as annoying as these incidents are, they are really just minor events. What about when life takes a turn for what could be the worse? What do you do when you get a sobering call at 6AM and are told the love of your life has just been in a he-could’ve-been-killed firefight (and is going on patrol again very soon)? Or when you get a text from his twin brother saying that he was in a serious rollover accident and has to be tested for TBI? What then?
Of course, your first instinct is to imagine the worse-case scenario; we all do that, whether we admit it or not. But we can’t dwell on the negative for long. We must brush away our tears, dust ourselves off, and take a positive step forward. We must make the best of the situation; remember, feelings follow actions, not the other way around! When “The Twin Warrior” told me about the accident, I was in the midst of a busy work day: directing school buses and overseeing teachers and thousands of kiddos attending a symphony concert. I reached into my coat pocket to check the time on my iPhone and saw I had a text. I read it over and over, my hands got shaky, my heart started pounding, and I imagined the worst. Yes, I even got teary-eyed and choked up as I tried explaining to my co-worker C what had just happened. But then another busload of students pulled up, and I had to suck it up and keep going. I smiled and spoke cheerfully to the teacher on the bus, and I kept a level head the rest of the day because I was in charge – we had an important event to run! It doesn’t mean I wasn’t worried about The Warrior…but at the same time I also silently prayed and waited for more news, hoping it was positive.
Thankfully, The Warrior has turned out to be okay…but what if he hadn’t been? There are countless numbers of soldiers who were not as lucky as mine was, and there are no future guarantees for him either. We would’ve made the best had it been a worse situation, and even now we continue to make the best of less-than-ideal circumstances (i.e. the Army life). It means constantly adapting, constantly erasing and penciling in and erasing again…but I’m proud of the fact that we have learned to roll with the punches and smile through the tough times.
One of America’s heroes, former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, is a shining example of making the best of how things turn out. I am currently reading his new book Service: A Navy SEAL at War and I have much admiration for the man. It is so true that
“It’s the people who focus on the positive that will come out on top. Afterward, your dominant thought about a bad experience shouldn’t be I can’t get over this; it should be I’m going to better myself because of it.” –p. 207