It was a sunny day in southern Wisconsin, and my first day on the University campus.
I was an overly excited 17-year-old embarking on a new adventure. Little did I know that college was not the only new adventure on which I was to embark. As my family and I headed to the dining facility for lunch, we met one of my sister’s friends, a college freshman named Trey Graham.
It wasn’t love at first sight, but as I got to know this 18-year-old from Missouri, a mutual interest quickly grew. He was smart, athletic, driven, caring, handsome, and an unmistakable gentleman. He was also joining the military.
On top of studying nursing, he was in ROTC and planned to serve in the Army Nurse Corps post four years of college. This wasn’t a deal breaker. In fact, I hadn’t deeply considered how his military commitment would affect our relationship until a friend of mine wisely advised, “Amelia, you need to think beyond “Can you marry him?”. The question is, “Can you marry the military?”.”
I began to deeply ponder how his service would change my future. If all went according to plan, Trey would finish college and go on to serve four years in the Army as an active duty officer. What does that mean? That means that for four years after college, we would have painfully little control over our lives. While you can always request a duty station, the military is under no obligation to honor your request. We’ll move where they say, when they say and do what they say for four years, and Trey was already talking about the possibility of going career (i.e. 20 years of military service).
Could I do this? Could I give up control of my future, my life?
Could I let all my aspirations take a backseat to the authority of the almighty Uncle Sam?
Considering the wedding photos, you have probably already guessed that the answer was yes.
But four years later, I’ve realized I was wrong. I didn’t make the wrong decision. I had the wrong presupposition. I had asked myself, “Can I give up control of my future?”, inaccurately implying I had control in the first place.
The truth is (military or not), I have never “held control” of my future. Assuming I have control of my life assumes I can choose the people that come and go, the opportunities that appear and leave, the stages of life that arrive and quickly pass.
Ultimately, none of us have control.
That is not to say we don’t have choices. I chose my University, my major, my husband and much more. But at no time did I truly have control.
It has taken me too many years to come to this realization, but slowly and surely, God has been teaching me to let go. Much greater than our ability to choose is our Sovereign God’s ability to control.
Our lives have changed drastically in the past years. Trey and I were married a little over a year ago, and in less than two weeks, we will move to Washington State. Trey has commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Nurse Corps, and Uncle Sam has told us where to move. We have an apartment and I am interviewing for jobs.
And I am happy to say, I controlled none of it.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”