We are nomads. Not livestock-moving nomads (unless of course you count children and pets), but nomads nonetheless.
The definition of nomad as explained by dictionary.com is “a member of a people or tribe that has no permanent abode but moves about from place to place.” Sound familiar?
We are certainly a tribe all our own. Regardless of service (Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard), we have common experiences with unique language and customs that seem strange at times to our civilian counterparts.
For example, as military women we commemorate occasions or celebrate anniversaries by making lists. Whether on Facebook or a blog or whatever, when these occasions come around, military women make a list. It goes like this: “Today we celebrate eight years of marriage. Thank you, honey, for four states, two countries, five houses, three children, and two dogs. It has been an adventure!” Or maybe this: “Thank you to my family and comrades for a fabulous fourteen years of service, three deployments, and six houses. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Military women make lists.
We mark the achievement of milestones from wedding anniversaries to retirement ceremonies with a list of places we’ve been and other blessings and challenges along the way from children to pets. It’s almost a rite of passage. Surely there should be some reward for walking through all of those things and coming out on the other end . . . mostly sane.
It can be an amazing life. Generally speaking, we have adapted to this nomadic life and learned to enjoy the adventure. Mostly. Building community can be hard.
I almost titled this blog post “How Introverts Build Community.” But after some thought, I realized that we all struggle at some time to build a community when we can’t even stay put. I mean, who really likes to start all over building relationships with neighbors, coworkers, and church folks every couple of years?
So, the question persists: How do nomads build community?
Here are five answers to that question:
1. Show Up: Going to a new place, sometimes we long for what we left behind. We need to be present where we are.
2. Say Hello: I can show up to a place expecting others to introduce themselves to me, whether it’s my neighbor or the ladies at church. Stepping up and saying hello is just as much my job as it is anyone else’s.
3. Find a Home: Finding a church home can be one of the most challenging parts of moving. Be persistent. Joining with other believers for both fellowship and accountability is key. God has picked out a place for you – find it.
4. Love: God calls us to love others. Love is a verb. We build relationships by helping, serving, doing. Look for ways to love those around you, from taking the time to have coffee to cards in the mail.
5. Hang On: As we walk through this life we have friends for a season and friends for life. Both are necessary and awesome. Those friends for life we need to hang on to, staying connected through virtual means but handwritten letters and phone calls as well. Realize too that some of these friends will start virtually as you “meet” others through online Bible studies, social media, or other online means. Do not discount them.
Nomadic life has its challenges for sure. But truth be told, most of us would not trade it for anything. We have come to see over the years how God has put us in the right place with the right job and the right people at the right time every time. Neither our circumstances nor our locations are a surprise to God.[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#nomad #plantingroots #buildingcommunity”]Building community must be intentional.[/tweetthis] We have to do it on purpose. It can be tiring, starting over at a new place every time, but so worth it. God did not make us to live in isolation. He made us for community. He has given us others who live a life similar to ours to fellowship with, but also those who do not live this military life. They too have things to pour into us, and us into them. Do not discount these relationships either.
Build community and build it on purpose. Difficult or not, it’s worth it in the end.
These are my tips for building community. What are your tips? How do you do it?