When its Time to Leave
I love being a military spouse. It provides an opportunity to travel, be part of something bigger than myself, and serve along side my soldier. Balancing out the bright moments are the darker difficult days of relocating, adjusting, and times of separation. It is a bitter sweet relationship that promises to stretch me out of my comfort zone and make me better, even if I go kicking and fighting. I find that I can count on that now. Like clockwork, although I promised myself that I would not “settle in”, I find that I accidentally did and PCS orders remind me once again that I was never supposed to stay.
I realize I can’t help myself from nesting- buying those curtains that may only work in this home or constructing a garden that clearly cannot be uprooted. It is in my nature as a “lifegiver” to create life wherever I am. I’ve accepted that about myself. I love to plant myself, root where I am, and allow the season to hopefully create a harvest with me or out of me because I need it like a I need air. I need community, others to rely on and them to rely on me. I need my children to experience that home is wherever we are and if that means I buy new curtains that fit in every new home, then so be it. I need an opportunity to grow and be challenged with a project that forces me to “find a solution to the problem/need” like a life sized Calculus problem waiting for the student to raise their hands with a triumphant sigh.
And yet here I am again, realizing that I planted myself in Augusta, Ga- loving my current set of curtains and sitting on my new-er sofa looking at orders to leave. Augusta provided a chance for me to use my counseling license and practice. I welcomed new clients with open arms and shared the vulnerable journey of life along side so many. Augusta needed a Christian Counselor for teen girls, and I became it. Like a flock of birds migrating, they all came to me, brought by frazzled parents who were looking for hope and answers. This became my life-sized Calculus problem- how to help a large group of teen girls feel less alone- and so I sweated through the problem and found the solution by starting an outpatient program. I decided to introduce my teen clients to each other through a therapy group and it became theirs. Theirs to own, create, protect, and use to find acceptance, test new social skills, and say the things to each other that they also needed to hear.
I have seen girls overcome social anxiety through talking in group, find courage to do the right thing, find normalcy in the pressures of school and culture, and discover that being “good” still means something in this world. Creating a safe and inviting space was no easy task. My soldier championed me by making book shelves, hanging things on the walls, even delivering our own TV from our home to make group happen. It has been a joy to sacrifice for this project. I have learned so much from these girls, girls that still struggle to find how they can make a difference in the world around them.
And as I look at our orders in front of me to leave, I realize that none of this was ever mine to keep. It was never mine to begin with, it was something I was asked to make and take care of for a season. And after I go, it will evolve into whatever it needs to become for those after me. There will me more girls, more issues, and more needs to fill. It will become someone else’s life-size Calculus problem and they will see something that I couldn’t see. I realize now that we aren’t supposed to do any of it on our own or we will find ourselves tempted to be the god of our surroundings.
And so I am grateful. Grateful that I planted here and gave it my all. I know now that I wither without it and I don’t regret any of it. I am grateful that I got to be part of something that made a difference, even if for one family. Grateful that I get to hand all of this off to someone else- whether it means it thrives or finds the end of its life cycle. Grateful that I spent this season embracing the stretch of trying something new and saw it succeed, grateful that I can raise my hands in the air in triumph and sigh- it was worth it. I hate saying goodbye- to my clients who have opened up their hearts and trusted me, to my employers who gave a military spouse a chance knowing she would leave, and to friends that I would have invited into my imaginary neighborhood of collected life-friends we call family. But its time, and we are called to go.
I have grown to appreciate the warm wash of future uncertainty even though it still makes me nervous. This will be my fourth location and although I know how to direct the packers, can expect the dreaded 6 month mark of melancholy that I will feel, and can embrace the opportunity to reinvent myself, the anxiety of change still looms. What will my kitchen look like? Will we find a church home? Will the spouses like me? Will people want to invest in us when we won’t be around for long? What in the world will I find to do there? I don’t think that ever goes away, but at least I know this- I will plant myself. I will enjoy the warmth of the sun shining there and hold its memory for the days when the clouds seem to linger too long. I will take on a new season of growth and let it stretch me in a new way because its harvest reveals character. In the meantime, I will balance this decisive courage with a little bit of retail therapy shopping for curtains and possibly consider dying my hair some shade of purple.