Random mud puddles

Random mud puddles

For the past 64 days, I’ve started my mornings by checking the Marine Parents Facebook page to see what Matt will be doing each day. While some days fill me with anxiety and other days sound exciting, today was the first day that I laughed out loud.

In fact, the little snippet that I read felt like such an analogy on life that I continued to think about it for the next hour as I went for my morning walk.

This week is called Field Week, and it’s Matt’s last week before he completes the biggest challenge of boot camp, which is called The Crucible. Recruits are working hard this week to prepare with long hikes carrying heavy backpacks and overnight adventures sleeping outside. But this was the little tidbit that caught my attention:

“During Field Week, many of the events will have random mud puddles throughout. Mysteriously, even when there has been no rain lately. This is just another way that DIs mess with recruits.”

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Those stinking random mud puddles. 

I feel like I’ve been navigating my way through a lot of those lately. With Thanksgiving this week, I’ve actually been consumed by my own mud. The expectations of holiday perfection seem to magnify all of the ordinary pain of life. The people we miss and the issues we face each day feel a million times worse around the holidays.

But then I started thinking about how those mud puddles that the Marine recruits are facing were put there on purpose. I’m sure the obstacle course or hiking trail was already challenging enough. But they send someone out there to pour water on the dirt to make sure it’s muddy enough to cause some serious irritation. It’s some guy’s actual job to create the mud puddles!

I skipped over a few mud puddles on my walk this morning. I was able to jump across or tip toe through, and it wasn’t a big deal.

 

I imagine that these aren’t the kind of puddles Matt will face today. I’m thinking the recruits probably have to crawl on their stomach through the mud to make it under barbed wire or simulated gun fire. The mud most likely splashes on their face and sticks to their teeth. They are sleeping outside, so they probably won’t have any opportunity to clean up before they go to bed. Their clothes and skin will be covered in mud all night.

I pictured deep pits of mud that suck at your boots and leave your feet wet all day. Their feet probably get cold from wet socks, and the blisters on their toes become infected.

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As I pondered all of this, my mind at first contemplated the devilish drill instructors who maniacally go out and create unnecessary obstacles. My mama bear instinct gets a little angry just thinking about it.

If I had my way, I would want to protect my 19-year-old son from the discomfort he is facing out on the field. I would want to make the course as simple to navigate as possible. If I was allowed to interfere, how would my recruit ever build up the physical and mental strength he needs to become a Marine?

In my own life, could it be possible that it’s not an evil force that pours buckets of water on my path to create mud puddles in my life? Could it be that a good and loving God might actually allow my discomfort to force me to stop trying to do everything on my own and instead rely on Him for help?

It’s tempting to look at other people’s lives and feel jealous about the happy family gatherings they have planned. But the reality is that we all will face random mud puddles at some point. And that’s not a bad thing.

When in life have I ever grown stronger when life was easy? When have I ever grown more compassionate when I wasn’t facing my own pain? And only when facing the biggest mud puddles am I pushed toward complete dependence on God to get me through.

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After this morning reflection, I started thinking about my mud puddles in a different way.

If I know my son, he is probably out there diving into the mud, getting as dirty as possible. Thinking about a drill instructor purposefully planting the mud in strategic locations makes me want to stop trying to keep my feet clean.

Life is full of random mud puddles. They can be stinky and gross. But when have you ever read an inspiring story of someone whose life was easy and comfortable? Thinking about it that way makes me strangely appreciative of the obstacles that I’m facing. And instead of feeling sorry for myself that they are there, it inspires me to stomp right through the mud.

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How about you? Are you facing random mud puddles in your life right now?

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2 responses to “Random mud puddles”

  1. Smitha Avatar
    Smitha

    I love that your blogs are back!! Yes facing a lot of mud puddles especially lately. Brand new ones for the very first time (being a teen mom) that I have no idea how to begin to navigate. Just one mud puddle at a time. Sending you big hugs and appreciate your words in the blogs always. ✌❤️

    1. emilyneal Avatar

      Thanks for being such a faithful reader! It feels good to be writing again. The teen years are definitely full of mud! I’m thinking of you as you navigate all of it. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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I’m Emily

Storyteller. Photographer. Creative.

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