I have to be honest with you. The longer I am in the ranks of women in the military, the greater my awareness becomes of the need to be connected to others…particularly with other women. Let’s face it – being a woman in the military (as active duty or spouse) makes us part of a very special “breed” of women. When we move to a new place, we move fast and furious. We engage the communities around us quickly and with great purpose. We do our best to settle our homes, our children, and our own hearts in that place for however long or short it may be…and we usually don’t know which one it will be. We do not have the luxury of wading into the waters of community and fellowship slowly. Yes, life in the military demands we put away the shy and timid that may be in our hearts and call out the courage and strength that we may not feel. And we do it. Not because we necessarily want to, but because the alternative can bury us in self-pity or fear. No. We choose to connect right where we are because we must. We choose each other because sometimes you and I and Jesus are all we have.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that women outside the military life don’t have a need to connect, truly, we all do. But there is something real (and even raw) in the heart of a women who has been called to serve in the military, wearing a uniform or not. What a joy it truly is when we find one another in the crowded spaces of our lives and take that sacred moment to share a hug, a cup of coffee and some words of encouragement for the race we are running.
Even as I write this, I am on a plane returning from an amazing weekend with some military wives and female cadets at West Point, leading them in worship and in a workshop designed to re-connect the dots – to God and to each other. And, oh, how beautiful they are to behold in worship and in life. Really, they are. They are some of the most beautiful, dedicated, brave, and creative women I have had the privilege to meet and walk alongside. My heart just swells with pride to have had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with them, even if for just a little while.
Reflecting on our time together and some common themes from the weekend, in conversation and in the program we enjoyed together, the deep seated need to connect just kept coming up. Over and over again. And as I led these precious women in worship I recognized the hunger in their eyes and in their hearts….because it is also in mine. Let’s face it, this life and calling in the military isn’t easy and there are days when we feel bruised and weary. And yet, I think it is in those moments when we are able to draw away and meet with one another that we taste something divine…and by His provision and grace, our cup begins to fill up again. And the courage and strength that just moments before seemed so far away just doesn’t seem so elusive anymore.
Somehow, Jesus knew we needed each other. He knows we need Him, but He also knew that in the struggle of this life, we would desperately need each other, too. In John 15:11-12, Jesus speaks to this Truth when He explained to His disciples the connection between love and joy. He said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Jesus went even further when He connected the first commandment (to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength) with the second (love your neighbor as yourself) in Matthew 22:36-40. They simply go together. Loving God and loving one another. Oh, that we would set our hearts to do this well.
So my challenge to you today is this: be sure you are making the time to connect, ladies – really connect. Whether you realize it or not, you need it. I need it. So, take the time to invest, to take a deep breath, encourage someone and allow them to encourage you. Just do it. Take the time to speak life into another woman’s life and let her speak life into yours. And may God richly bless you…immeasurably more than all you could hope for or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).