Yesterday you met Missy and heard about her nearly nomadic existence as a military spouse. Today, Missy shares the good, the bad, and the in-between associated with moving so often.
The hard stuff is, first, the family stuff. Missy says being far from family while having babies or celebrating milestones is is often lonely. Even harder is being far from family when their stuff is going on – illnesses, holidays, graduations, babies…
Not to mention all the kid stuff: having a doctor you’ve never met before deliver your baby, entrusting children to virtual strangers when childcare is necessary in a new location, uprooting kids from their routine and friends. Starting over.
Financially, Missy highlights how expensive each move can be. Simple things like startup costs, house cleaners, down payments or deposits, and expenses to move pets. Dislocation reimbursements never cover it all.
And of course, spiritually and emotionally. They have to find a new place to connect for their spiritual growth. A place to develop new friendships. Figuring out the new routine because each new location came with a new assignment and a new schedule which impacted the entire family. Managing all the stressors in the context of your marriage relationship proves difficult and can create an enormous strain.
But there’s been such good in all of it too, Missy reports. A lot of it centered around seeing the beauty of America. She describes her 11 long-term “stay-cations.” There’s not just one place they go every summer because they “tour” the city and surrounding areas of their current assignment before moving. They lived four years in California, a state Missy had dreamed of visiting. Plus, they had an overseas assignment which afforded them the chance to see another part of the world. They’ve driven from the East Coast to California and back twice seeing lots of America. They are also really lean on “stuff.” As you all well know, I’m constantly being called to acquire less and purge more. Well, as a result of 11 moves, Missy is pretty darn selective about what she chooses to be sentimental about. (Except for books. Far too many according to the movers.)
While Missy reports this being a perk of the moves, ahem, I’m not sure I’d be as sunny. She’s enjoyed the variety of decorating that came with living in 11 different homes. Not to mention, she laughingly informed me, she REALLY knows what she wants in the family’s retirement home when that time comes. She’s tried on 11 long-term and knows what works.
As for the in-between, the downsides also have their own upside. The upside of having to leave old friends is the opportunity to make new ones. Missy has friends all over the world and a really impressive Christmas card list! The upside of being away from your family is that you have to stand on your own, independent from your parents, and figure things out as a marriage partnership. The upside of having to move to a new assignment is that you have a job. A blessing, Missy notes, to have job stability in a time when the economy was uncertain.
Along with the ups and downs of the moves, Missy’s faith has had ups and downs. Early in their marriage, the couple were in different places spiritually and had a different ideas on what role faith played in the family. At that time, the balance tipped in favor of faith being more important to her. But it cycles. Recently, Missy’s faith hit a low. Her marriage was struggling, her beloved uncle passed away suddenly, her mother’s cancer returned and is incurable, and her father was diagnosed with a chronic illness. She recalls crying in church and telling her husband that she was “having a spiritual crisis.” She prayed. She put prayer requests on the cross at church. She knows God is carrying her through. She recounts “out-of-the-blue” re-connections with long-lost friends (thank you Facebook), an unexpected reminder of her worth to another person, a divinely offered Bible Study focused on marriage, and a husband who decided to accept Christ…publicly and whole-heartedly. Although God’s love is always there, she says it sometimes feels like “tough love.”
They recently relocated to a rural area where they’ve yet to connect to a faith community. She feels God is posing the question, “How hard are you willing to work?” In this season, she says she’s learning grace and some other lessons too.
I have a penchant for wanting things to be easy. I’ve relied on the theory that life should be easy for far too long. As if the mere fact that something was easy means it’s right. I think some of the hardness of the last few years is God culling that out of me. Parenting, marriage, moving, finding a church….. It’s not supposed to be easy. Anything worth doing is hard.
I’m learning about myself. I need self-discipline . When things get hard, I must keep going. I have to push forward instead of throwing my hands up in exasperation when things get confusing or require too much perseverance. I believe God is at a place with me where He’s moved from whispering to shouting at me to follow through on things that are hard.
Sharing this story has been a start in that direction.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3
Thanks, Gindi, for the important reminder. Every Sunday we pray in church for members who are serving in the military. No mention made of the families who are left behind and the difficulties they face on a daily basis. I can’t imagine the struggles to adapt to frequent moves, especially when there are children involved.
I know – it’s such a sacrifice to support their family member serving.