"No matter the place you currently live, or for how long you live there, you can be rooted in something steadfast that gives you freedom to dive in deeply with the people around you without fear of the future." -AMALEE BINGHAM
A lifestyle shaped by the military is inherently ever-changing. From the outside looking in, this is sometimes viewed as a nuisance or burden. And sometimes, we ourselves can see it in this light. But what if we realized that we have a greater hope that allows us to choose otherwise? Sometimes our lifestyle presents challenges, but that doesn’t mean we should remain hopeless.
In the fall of my senior year of college, I got engaged to a newly commissioned Army officer. He is a year older than me, and at the time had just begun his Officer Leader Course. It was a season of lots of exciting things and changes for us both. I was looking forward to being married to my best friend and partnering with him in military life. However, one bittersweet thing was knowing that after we were married, I’d be moving away from my college town. Growing up, I was used to moving around every few years, but this move felt a bit harder because of the comfortable routines I had established. Many of us have one place in our hearts that we call home. We feel like it is the best place we will ever live and nothing will ever come close to the memories made or the relationships formed there. This is how I felt about where I lived at the time. Thinking of moving away from that place made the future a bit less bright and I really didn’t like that feeling. It felt like there had to be something more.
Luckily, shortly after, I learned something. Something that gave me hope for the future, as well as excitement and joy to move on and away from all I loved so dearly. I discovered a freedom to flourish anywhere, at any time, for any amount of time. The last part being very important for me as I knew I would live only a few months at our first duty station before moving again.
Even greater than the deep honor it is to serve our country is the way in which our transient nature of life illustrates the beauty of 2 Corinthians 5. In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 says, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” This verse is specifically referring to the redemption of our bodies, but I love how it uses the language of a home, describing the places we live here on Earth now as temporary tents and our hope of redemption as everlasting.
As members of the service member community, this hits us all a little deeper because the physical places where we live really are temporary, sometimes living in one place for only a few months. 2 Corinthians 5:5 goes on to say, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God.” In other words, God has something greater planned for us, and in the meantime, he has also made a way for this life to be meaningful if we cling to Him and not this world. This means no matter the place you currently live, or for how long you live there, you can be rooted in something steadfast that gives you freedom to dive in deeply with the people around you without fear of the future.
If we choose to boldly believe this, we still feel the pain and discomfort that often comes in all the changes of life, but we are redeemed by a greater assurance and hope that produces the ability to flourish wherever we live at any certain time. Holding tightly to this “something greater” enables us to loosen our grip on the things around us that are out of our control and be okay. This means we are free! Free to move to a new place, free to plant real roots in relationships wherever we are stationed even if it’s just for a short amount time, or free to move on to a new phase of life— all in confidence.
I hope, like they have been to me, these verses will be an encouragement for service member spouses, whether newly married or seasoned, who have moved a thousand and one miles away from beloved places and rhythms. I hope they give us understanding that our work in building relationships with people around us is not in vain and neither is the work of forming new friendships. I hope they give light to the choice we have to be grateful for the lives we have been called to rather than be constrained by discontentment.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- We are made for community. We have been created to flourish. It can be hard and messy and in the military, but community is essential.
- Find a community of trusted friends that believe this same truth and can encourage you in it as you encourage them. No matter whether you are in on place for a short time or long time, start with even just one friend and go from there.
- Allow yourself to admit that sometimes everything is not fine and sometimes you’re in a challenging situation. But then, don’t dwell there. Recall the truth and have the courage to hope.
- Don’t just take my word for it. Decide for yourself what you believe to be true or not. Study God’s word, the Bible, for yourself. A helpful method is the Inductive Bible Study Method, which involves asking three questions:
- What does the passage say?
- What does the passage mean?
- How does the meaning of the passage apply to me?