My home of birth and record is Tennessee. A southern upbringing instilled the importance of courtesy. Personal factoid: I was voted, “Most Courteous” in high school. You need proof?
When I became part of a military community, I knew how to be “sweet” and courteous. I could match anyone’s small-talk and smile no matter what I was thinking. But y’all, I’m a girl who is not content with surface relationships and I wondered how that would jive with the transient nature of military life. Small-talk can get tiresome, but small-talk is most often the initial step toward friendship.
As a military wife, the idea of moving and going through the process of making friends–again–can be exhausting. I felt that way with every PCS move. I often wished I could hand out a friend resume to offset the initial awkward new girl stage and skip the small-talk. Each time we moved though, I would polish my “Most Courteous” crown and begin the process of introducing myself–again.
Do you know what happened? I learned that the shared experience of military life is rich soil for friendship to flourish. I found other women in my military community who wanted to go deeper than small-talk. Over the years, I connected with women who shared my joys and frustrations. We connected over coffee, exercise, Bible study, FRG meetings, deployment, commissary lines, and a multitude of other activities that brought us together. These dear women became lifelong friends who are as family to me.
1 Samuel 18:1 notes that Jonathan’s soul was knit to the soul of David. The use of the word knit implies a family like relationship. The story would make more sense if Jonathan looked at David as a rival. After all, Jonathan was King Saul’s son and would have been next in line for the throne. Out of jealousy, King Saul wanted to kill David, yet his son made a covenant with David to treat him as a brother. Here, in David’s first “assignment,” he met his best friend for life.
In the past month, I traveled from Ireland to Germany to England to DC to Ft. Campbell, KY. The long time away from home was sweeter because of the many friends I reconnected with along the way. Forgive the “selfie” photos as I share and celebrate just a few of this month’s reunions with friends who are “knit” to my heart because of military life.
This is what happens when you have dinner with a friend and she says, “I’m taking my mom to Ireland, do you want to go?” I said yes! Deb and I have never been stationed together, but our hearts were knit together through years of ministry in PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel).
I watched this girl grow up. We attended the same church in our Tennessee hometown. Today, she is a brilliant educator stationed in Germany with her Army Chaplain husband.
Bethany attended a Heroes on the Homefront conference I facilitated in Colorado when her husband was deployed several years ago. She endeared herself to me in so many ways. How fun to reconnect with her in Germany when I spoke at a PWOC near her installation. My heart is still full as I think of the many dear friends I saw in Germany.
I met Ashley after military retirement. She worked with my husband in the COG Chaplain’s Commission. She married a Navy Chaplain who is serving in a special assignment with the British Royal Navy. We had the best reunion in–of all places–Birmingham, England!
DC and the Planting Roots Conference brought reunions with sweet friends from military life. Teresa and Lisa have a special place in my heart and encouraged me with their presence at the conference.
My travels ended with a visit to Clarksville, Tennessee where I spoke at an event for military wives. I was blessed to see friends stationed at Ft. Campbell. Here I am with Kathy, a dear friend I’ve known for many years and Jenn, a young friend I hope to know for many years to come.
This transient military life seems the most unlikely place to nurture deep and lasting relationships, but our overlapping lives bind us together. The reunions displayed above are proof of that in my life. Any small-talk I engaged in with these sisters was SO worth the time to get to deep-spirited friendship.
Not everyone will be open to being a friend, but I guarantee someone is looking for a friend like you! If you stay in the military long enough, you begin to chronicle the places you lived by the friends you made in each place. Military installations may close down, your situation will change many times over, but the friends you make will last a lifetime.
Take some time today and thank God for the lifelong friends you have made in the military. Go one step further and connect with one or more of these friends via text, email, or better yet–a written note.
In the comment section or on our FB page, give a shout-out of thanksgiving or post a photo of a friend God has knit to your soul because of this military life. I’d love to celebrate and give thanks with you!