I’ve never met a military woman or spouse who hasn’t battled loneliness at some point in their journey. Brenda gives us all some encouraging and practical wisdom to rise up from loneliness in today’s Monday Minute with God.
Rise Up from Loneliness
by Brenda Pace
Hank Williams with his country twang crooned, “I’m so lonesome I could cry.” I recall times as a military wife when that song could have been my theme song. In fact, change the word could to did—because I shed many a lonesome tear along the way. A quick internet search and you’ll find I’m not alone in my loneliness. Here are just a few of the headlines I found when searching for “military women and loneliness.”
“Four out of five wounded women veterans reported feelings of loneliness and isolation.” (1)
“Loneliness, Unemployment Among Top Concerns for Military Spouses, Survey Finds.” (2)
“A new memoir portrays the high pressure, loneliness, and constant uncertainty of life as a military wife.” (3)
One of my greatest struggles with loneliness followed a PCS move. The arrival at a new duty station was never easy for me. Even with the anticipation of new adventures I resisted all the new. I often think it would be much easier if we could carry a resume` like someone new to the job market. We could pass it out to our new neighbors instantly informing them of the ways we would make a great neighbor and friend. We could take it to the organizations we’re interested in and instead of timidly volunteering to do the simplest, most menial tasks, we could provide instant proof of benefit from our involvement.
One particular lonely time for me came after an assignment to Korea. We had been in country about six weeks. My boys were making friends in the neighborhood. My husband was fully engaged in his job. I had even volunteered for a few organizations. Yet, even with these positive steps toward making Korea home I still felt lost and lonely. We left behind a close-knit group of wonderful friends and had been within a few hours driving distance from both our families.
Yes, leaving was hard and the disappointment I felt was deep.
During an especially difficult day, I volunteered at a gift shop run by the Wives Club. I spent the better part of the day opening, unpacking, and packing boxes, and checking merchandise for customers. At some point in the mid-afternoon, I remember reaching down to rub my thumb over the anniversary ring my husband gifted me a few months before. I quickly jerked my hand up to see that one of the diamonds was gone!
I began frantically retracing my steps, but the stone was nowhere to be found. The reality that it was most likely gone forever crushed me. When I arrived home, I asked my sons to pray with me that if possible, we would find the stone. After praying, I opened my change purse to get money to take a taxi to the commissary. As I counted the change, there among the copper pennies and silver dimes a beautiful little diamond sparkled up at me. That stone could have been anywhere. I had walked thousands of steps that day. The boxes I packed for people traveled all over the world. Of all the places that gem could have fallen, it could not have found a safer place than my protected, snapped shut, change purse.
The Lord challenged me that day to trust him with my loneliness.
Just like that diamond, I felt out of place and lost. In time though, I would be placed in the setting he prepared for me. Until then, he knew exactly where I was—safe, protected, and sheltered in his loving hands.
Sister, our God cares about the lonely. If you find yourself in that place today here are some things that may help:
Train. Meditate on Psalm 139:7-10 and the omnipresence of God. “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Build. Look for ways to make meaningful connections.
- Take a walk and introduce yourself or strike up a conversation with someone you pass in the neighborhood.
- If time permits, find a place to volunteer. Volunteering brings opportunities to meet others and can give you a sense of purpose.
Connect. Be on the lookout for others who are singing a lonely song and feel displaced.
Thank you, Lord, for your promise that you are always with me (Matthew 28:20). Your kindness will not depart from me (Isaiah 54:10). You go with me and will not leave or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6). I stand on your Word today. Amen.
If you’re struggling with loneliness, download our free, printable resource, Flourish in Military Friendships, for more encouraging tips!