The contrasting emotions you may feel during reintegration are normal
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:12–13)
Happy because he is part of the family again, but sad for a loss of my personal independence.
Excited because we can make plans, but apprehensive for the emotional minefields through which we may have to walk.
Peaceful because he is close, but worried for the possibility of another deployment.
Grateful because we can share responsibilities, but frustrated to relinquish the way I have done things while he was away.
Such is the reintegration mash-up. Pop culture defines a mash-up as a mixture or fusion of contrasting elements. Modern day singers have made the musical mash-up popular, but they do not have anything on the reintegration mash-up.
The contrasting emotions you may feel during reintegration are normal. In fact, you need to expect an emotional mash-up. You cannot assume everything will be the same as it was before deployment. At the risk of sounding cliché, the best description is finding a new normal.
The returning Jews in the book of Ezra would have done well to know what to expect during reintegration. Notice the mixed emotions present in Ezra 3:12–13: Some shouted for joy, while others wept aloud. Notice too the reason for the weeping: things were not as they used to be. In remembering the temple before the exile, some focused on the negative which kept them from seeing the possibilities that change could bring.1
Sisters, heed this advice from experience: You gain nothing by saying, “I wish things were like they were before you deployed.” Rejoice in the opportunity God has given you to be together again. Allow yourself permission to experience reintegration mash-up, but trust that God can help you navigate a good and blessed future.
In what ways have you experienced reintegration mash-up? How can you prepare yourself for or manage such conflicting emotions?
Prayer for the Journey
Father, you created my emotions. I know I should not allow myself to be led by emotion more than I allow you to lead me. Help me not to live in the past or measure today by yesterday. Teach me to enjoy and appreciate today. Amen.
1 Mark D. Roberts, The Preacher’s Commentary, Volume 11: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2002), 72.