by Kori Yates
I went to church the other day. Not a unique happening in our world, but this Sunday was different. It’s a military chapel and meeting new people is pretty standard. People are coming and going all the time, whether PCS or TDY. Even that whole “church shopping” thing is expected. We live in an OCONUS (overseas) location, so it takes a bit to figure out where you’re supposed to plant and where you will create friendships.
This past Sunday I met someone new. We chatted about clothes, shoes, and the local store I frequent. She was super nice. As the day went on, we ended up hanging out with them at some local festivities and then out to dinner. In the course of our conversations throughout the day, she shared the “real story.”
This move had been their hardest yet. The transition was taking forever, the bumps they experienced on the way were many, and rest, comfort, and friendships in this new place had yet to be found.
They couldn’t even find the coffee maker yet.
Forty-eight hours before, she had been crying, the heartache we all know, and was just ready to “go home” – wherever that was. Having yet to find a tribe of their own here, they felt isolated, and isolation led to anxiety, loneliness, and weariness.
No doubt we’ve all been there.
Today, though, they had shown up at church. The building was not the answer, but the people were. They were bravely reaching out, praying that God would bring them the friendships that would make this place a home for their family. And we got to be part of that.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV).
In Scripture, God reminds of us both the importance of community with him and community with others.
He did not make us to live in isolation, but to live a life of abundance and hope. In the weariness of starting again, he reminds us of the blessings he’s given along the way and encourages us to find the blessings of the place where we are.
As our family gets ready to PCS again (and those thoughts of weariness in the starting over), my new overwhelmed friend showed me the importance of being brave and showing up – again. Our new friendship didn’t answer all of her questions or relieve all of her anxiety, but it did remind her that she’s not in this alone. It also made a difference in me because soon enough I will be in that place too.
Scripture tells us to hold on to our hope because HE is faithful and to not neglect meeting together. I know it requires bravery. Trust me, this introvert totally gets it. Our community with him and with others are necessities for which he made us. We have to do it on purpose – and we won’t be sorry we did.
4 Pointers for Creating Military Friendships
- Show up – Find that local church or Bible study where the Lord would have you plant. It may take a few tries, but finding it is totally worth it! He has a place for you.
- Be brave – Sometimes to find friends we have to be a friend first. Not always easy. Start the conversation, ask the questions, invite them out for coffee.
- Remember the blessings – Remember your friends from all of those places before? God has blessed us with friends every place we’ve been. He’s given us those with whom we can do life. In remembering what he has already done, we can have courage to step out again.
- Enjoy community with God – It does take time to build those friendships and grow those relationships at every place. But there is one relationship that remains constant. Take the time to continue to grow that relationship in the season of waiting for the friendships where you are to grow.
God has made us for community. Whether you are headed to a new place or new folks show up in yours, watch for those folks God brings across your path. He has good stuff in store!
Lord, thank you for the friendships and community you’ve provided in the places we’ve been. As we take next steps, help us to be brave in finding those folks in this new place or welcoming new faces to ours.