Generally speaking, I'm not who you WOULD want for that spontaneous, cross-country road trip,
Especially if you’re proposing the 'lets just drive until we run out of road' sort of trip. I mean, why would anyone want to do that? What if there is NOt a hotel nearby? Or worse, what if the only option is a budget motel?! All OF that unknown happening in one little car, just doesn't bring out my good side.
My introduction to military life, ironically, began as a cross-continental road trip. The day after my wedding, I packed everything I could fit into seven Army duffel bags, cancelled my phone plan, and with my new husband leading the way, took one flight, one taxie, and three trains to get to my new home. Happy Honeymoon and sprechen sie Deutsch?
Those first few months of living in Germany were also filled with a lot of road trips. Traveling, lots of traveling. I spent time experiencing German festivals, trying to make friends, tasting all of the beer, surprising my new husband with the cooking skills he didn't know I had, and enrolling in DEERS... There was so much change happening, change that I wasn’t always great at handling. It’s what first earned me my favorite nickname. It literally makes me laugh when I think back to my new husband, somewhat sarcastically, calling me "the devil", because while we were living some pretty phenomenal experiences, it was hard handling all the change.
Change has a way of displacing and disconnecting. And while not all change comes in the form of moving, the essence of change is that something is different and new. It takes away what is, and gives you something else. And we have to deal with that.
My sister-in-law once made a comment about handling change that I’ve never forgotten. I flew to Italy to spend Thanksgiving with her, her husband - an Air Force pilot - and her brother, who was my boyfriend at the time. I have this memory of sitting on her living room floor, on Thanksgiving day, listening to her as she spoke about what she was grateful for. That memory is fused together and overlaps with another memory involving her, a speech she gave at our rehearsal dinner, just nights before I flew to my new home in Germany. Both times she spoke about roots. That the relationship I had, this marriage I was about to start, must have roots in order to withstand all the changes that would come. She said that roots are what hold you down, what grounds you. They give you something firm to stand on. And your marriage can be your roots.
We need roots to ground us, because there will be change. Because embracing the journey, enjoying the process, and all those other things said out there in motivational quotes about change, while that advice is good, it’s still challenging. And in my experience, military life is one long line of change: changes in where you live, changes in schedules, deployments and homecomings. It’s never been more than a few months before something changes. After almost eight years as a military spouse, and adjustments to all the changes that have come, I don’t think there’s any magic that makes dealing with the nitty gritty of the constant adjustment any easier. What I have found that does help, what grounds me when there’s a move ahead of me, or a change in schedule that’s going to leave me playing single parent, is cultivating simplicity.
In a season of change, simplicity can bring about a reset, a reminder of what is important. Simplicity can aide in letting your roots grow deeper. For a season, simplicity might look like choosing to focus your energy on those lifeline relationships, the ones that are vital to your heart, instead of investing in new ones. Or choosing to step out in faith, to remind your heart and head, that it’s in His control. For seasons of change, living more simply can even look like curating a capsule wardrobe to eliminate the stress of what to wear.
The more simple you can make your life, the less chaos there will be. The nature of change is somewhat chaotic, and a lot is beyond our control. But within simplicity lies the art of handling change. As a military spouse or family, there will be change. And when it comes to change, handling it is pretty simple. Not easy, just simple. As much as you can, simplify. And avoid road trips, if you’re anything like me.