I haven’t written much in the past year. At first it wasn’t intentional, but the longer I stayed away from the keyboard, the more purposeful my silence became. As the year cycles around to the season of fresh starts with the new school year and a new job for my husband, I feel called back to write in this space. I have changed greatly in the past year, and I don’t think I can adequately tell my story moving forward if I don’t share some of those changes with you.
This was a year of great sadness and deep hurt. I learned a long time ago that I cannot write from a place of anger, or hurt, or rejection. I know many can, and I love to read the words they use which give voice to emotions that I struggle to express. But I am simply not that kind of writer. Much of my hurt is routed in my own selfishness and misplaced expectations, and much will be remain unwritten, close to my heart. I do not know how to fully explain why I was (and am) so sad and so hurt without casting blame, which is mostly misplaced, onto others. And I do not desire to hurt others with my words.
This season began almost two years ago when we found out that we would be headed to the DC Metro area for a year. I did not want to come. They were the first orders where I was truly disappointed. But I put on my big girl pants and threw myself into making the best of our year. I googled, and emailed, and called, and googled some more. I put every ounce of energy into finding a community, a tribe, a sisterhood that would carry me through what I expected to be a very difficult year. As I wrote a little over a year ago, I was not met with a warm welcome. That was the first of many misplaced expectations on my new city.
By November, I had simply given up. The three little boys and I were going to spend the month of December with my Mother-in-Law on the west coast (lets be honest, the best coast). It should also be noted here that the trip was to facilitate changing my legal residence to my husband’s home state. (Thank you Congress for finally passing the Military Spouse Relief Act!) Our month away had been planned for a very long time, and while a part of me treated it like running away from my problems, that wasn’t really the purpose. When we came home after the holidays, I put on a brave face and did everything I could to help my boys enjoy what I thought was our last few months in Maryland.
Then the orders came. We got extended with another DC area job. I was heartbroken and very, very angry. I had made the mistake of researching the top three possible places we could move. They were all great options. One was an amazing option. Anger and jealousy bubbled up and erased the little bit of contentment I’d managed to create. I should never have looked to other options. I know better.
At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what’s wrong with DC? Why is it so awful? The very short answer is that as a stay at home, homeschooling mom, I feel very out of place in a community where two working parents with long commutes is the norm. The very long answer is one that I can’t quite put words to but basically boils down to my own selfish wants and desires not being fulfilled and my refusal to see and embrace the purpose for which God has placed us in this place.
I feel let down and rejected by friends who live just close enough that I expected to see them often, but in reality we live far enough that is hard to get together. This is my biggest source of hurt. We have many friends also living in the DC area, and I though it would be much easier to see them all. And I know that relationships take work on both sides. I was really caught off guard at how hard the work would be.
I feel angered and annoyed that this community isn’t meeting my needs. That statement is a whole lot of unfiltered, ugly selfishness. And it is my biggest source of anger, from the military specifically. I do not have any kind of network or support in our immediate area. It took me months to find the small pockets I have managed to connect with, and still I feel like it’s not enough. Please don’t read that as commentary on military support networks in the entire National Capital Region, it’s simply what I have experience in my little neighborhood. There are some amazing organizations here, but as with the point above, I do not live in close enough proximity to take advantage of their help or volunteer to help others. It’s an expectation that I am working very hard to surrender. A very large part of my identity is as a military spouse. Without the military community, I feel like I’m alone on an island.
Our church does not do church my way. Could there be a more arrogant and condescending statement? Again, very misplaced expectations and a whole pile of selfishness. The work done in my heart and my spirit over the last year can only be explained as grace. It’s not about me. It’s about the work the Lord has before me. And I need to stop fighting Him and put my efforts into things that have eternal significance. I need to learn to do church differently. To do church the way this community needs. To do church the way the Spirit is calling.
I have about a dozen more points that I though I could make in this post, but the words are not there yet. I’m learning to truly embrace the Sabbath, I’m celebrating the wonderfully diverse neighborhood in which we live, and I’m again redefining my role as a wife and mom. I am finally feeling at peace in our home, and I am living out the purpose God has for me in this season of life. As I have time, the stories will come.
In conclusion, I’m back. I’m not sorry I was gone. It is the struggles of life that refine us most.