Focus on the journey, not the destination

As a military officer, the title of this blog entry is relatively counter intuitive. In many ways, we are taught to focus on the destination (or mission end state) rather than how to get there. Significant planning goes into every mission with the commander’s intent driving the planning process towards the desired end state. But once on a mission, the simple directive is to accomplish the mission. It’s only with experience you begin to anticipate some of the significant events that could occur during a mission and minimize the impacts to the best of your ability. That being the case, the purpose, key tasks and end state which combine to make the commander’s intent, keep the organization headed in the right direction despite any distractions.

This line of thinking does not necessarily work well in our most important job: parenting. I’ve been fortunate to have some time off the past month and a half during our recent Permanent Change of Station (PCS) from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to Ft. Bliss, TX. With an impending deployment and a May 13th report date, we were committed to making the most of our time together as a family. I’ve never been to as many zoos, bounce houses, trampoline parks, and children’s museums as I had this past month. It was incredible and I would not trade that time for anything.

I signed out of JBLM on April 13th, put my family on an airplane on April 14th, and started the 2,100 mile journey to Ft. Worth, Texas April 15th where we would start our leave together. We continued for about a week in Georgetown, then continued West to El Paso to in-process the installation, start house-hunting and finish pre-deployment requirements while camping out on the fourth floor of the Residence Inn. As you can imagine, 17 days in a hotel had its fair share of challenges. Yet the memories we made during that time was well worth it. After completing all requirements, we continued on to Tucson, AZ where Danielle and the kids (and Bowie) will remain during the deployment until on-post housing is available.

We spent the majority of the time off at home or at the neighborhood splash pad, pool or multitude of playgrounds. Yet, I had to continually fight the tendency to get to whatever specific event we were doing that day, rather than enjoying the time and memories happening along the way: Our daughter learning to ride a straddle bike while getting distracted pointing out multiple neighborhood pets or saguaro, smelling the desert flowers, asking about this or that, or our son toddling behind and pointing out every “ball!” then throwing the ball, sometimes into the street for Danielle or me to chase down. img_0241

All these events initially stirred something in me because it either slowed down or distracted our advance towards the end state – the splash pad, pool, or playground, inevitably delaying our departure from said location, which impacted our ability to eat lunch or dinner on time, which impacted our ability to start and finish bed time routine on time, which impacted out ability to finally spend some alone time as a couple.

The times I struggled with enjoying the journey, if not solved during the day, I addressed it that night, and resolved to do it better the next day. When I did this, it gave me a greater appreciation for the little milestones for which I was present, the cues into what made my kids tick, their interests and desires magnified while en route to the event we were conducting for the day. It’s short, it taught me the value of the journey en route to the destination.

If we are not careful and remain too focused on the destination, we will miss key insights into our children and influential milestones only observable when physically present. Time is our only non-renewable resource and our children’s seasons of growth go so quickly. When life events like a deployment or work trip make it impossible to enjoy those seasons in person, we risk looking back wishing we had engaged our family more and invested in quality time over quantity time.

I cannot overstate the value and gratitude I feel for the time off before this deployment and the memories made during that time. We made the most of our available time together and solidified quality time. Our smart phone pictures, videos and polaroids captured special moments from our vacation—most of which were from the journey, not the destination.

-MCW

@mcwingate/mcwingate.com

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2019 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

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God’s Perfect Will

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Proverbs 37:4, NASB)

As I returned from my third deployment in the fall of 2014, I knew I would be moving to Texas to take command of the legendary DUSTOFF unit of the 1st Cavalry Division, C/2-227 AVN REGT, formerly the 571st MED CO. What I did not know was what was next for Danielle and I. As I boarded the plane from Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania to start our final two legs home to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I was excited to see what God had in store for us. What I only knew intuitively was how quick things would develop with her if I 10609696_10202773514314646_6274065620132661299_nwould just trust Him. When I saw her after walking in that hangar after 9 months, I felt joy and excitement. However, it was not until after a week together in Panama City and Destin I finally admitted what I knew in my spirit for the last year of “dating” 7000 miles away from each other: This was it. She was my lifelong teammate.

Now, returning home in just over a month, I return to a loving, gorgeous wife and beautiful daughter. There is no uneasiness. There is no question of her faithfulness. There is no question if she missed me. There is no question if she wants me home. I know this. I know this by her words and her actions. I know this because our marriage is centered on the Cross. I know this because I finally surrendered my life to His will rather than trying to do it on my own. As a result, I don’t find my joy and happiness in my wife. My happiness is found in obedience to Christ and supplemented by walking in His will. Finding happiness in a person will never end well. People are imperfect. He is perfect. We are not.

So why do I say all of this? I see posts on facebook and have conversations with friends who are in a relationship and finding their happiness in their significant other. They found the one! Look, if there was THE ONE, someone screwed it up for us a long time ago. There is someone God has made to complement each of us. But our happiness cannot be wrapped up in solely that person. It’s a fine line. We should be happy with the person. But if we find happiness in that person, our emotions in that moment will ebb and flow with the inevitable good and bad days of our relationship. If our happiness hinges on finding that person, we are going to be sorely disappointed. People will let you down. Christ will not. When we are rooted in HIM first, He will lead you to His perfect will.

One of my friends from Nashville, Morgann McClanahan-David, has a song called, Perfect Will, which is available for download on iTunes and Spotify. J Although my interaction with her and her husband had been relatively minimal, the impact of her song left a lasting impression. I saw her and her husband perform at an album release in Nashville at a time I was in the lowest valley of my life. I was coming off a horrible relationship and searching for God’s perfect will for my life while longing to find the desire of my heart: the wife God had for me. I knew his timing was close, but did not know how to get there. I heard Morgann’s song and it made me smile, pause and think, “Why am I trying to do this my way? My way hasn’t worked out so well to this point.”

003C898A-4379-4EBD-B2BF-92D81E3D5785.JPGIn that moment, sitting in a chair at the Anchor Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, I finally committed to patiently waiting for HIS perfect will to be revealed. The chorus of her song says, “I can’t stop smiling…grey skies, blue skies, my sun’s shining when I’m in your perfect will.” God’s perfect will led me to my bride. Not my will, not my path, Not my way. Your way; Your will.

As a result of His perfect will, I have an amazing, gorgeous wife, a beautiful daughter. These were desires of my heart. I sought Him never wonder if I’m in His will. I never wonder if there is something better.

I leave my single friends and readers of this post with three bullets of advice:

  1. Be patient and trust His perfect will is best. Patience isn’t always easy. When you see all your friends around you getting married, don’t worry. He’s either preparing your significant other for you or preparing you for your significant other. He won’t let you down. When we try to do it on our own or create our own path for happiness, it will only lead to short-term fulfillment or worse, a valley of disappointment and despair. His perfect will leads us to a lifetime of true joy and the desires of our heart.
  2. If you wonder if there is something better, there probably is. With both of my previous marriages, I wondered if there was something better. It was a drain, every day. It was miserable more days than not. Why it took me to walk that long road to figure it out is for a whole other post. But know this: You will never wonder if there is something better when you are walking in His will. There will be good and bad days and a healthy relationship and marriage takes effort from both people. But you will never wonder if you should be with someone else. You will know this is exactly what God has for you.
  3. You will know when it is the right person and there will be no question. If there is any part of you that feels hesitation in the relationship you are in, there is a good chance it isn’t His perfect will. Prior to meeting Danielle, I wrote a non-negotiable list of everything I wanted in a wife. I wrote this list when I was fifteen too, but for some reason I compromised that list and lost it. Side note: never lose your list.

I committed to not settling for any less than that list and Danielle met every requirement and many more I never even realized I needed. Deep down, God has placed what you need in a partner on your heart. Write down those desires and don’t settle for any less than God’s perfect will. You’re not too picky and it’s not too much to ask. He or She is out there. Just. Be. Patient. Surrender to Him. He will give you the desires of your heart.

-MCW

@mcwingate

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The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2016 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit for last picture to Heather Zak of Heather Zak Designs. http://www.heatherzakdesigns.com/