“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.”Jim Henson
There is no “tired” like the exhaustion you find yourself in after a fresh PCS, save maybe the extreme sense of emotional upheaval after the arrival of a newborn baby. Nonetheless, it could easily be true that a cross-country move, plus an empty house, multiplied by screaming children is sure fire equation for emotional burnout.
Our family just relocated, about six months ago, from Georgia to Mississippi. We had been stationed on the Gulf Coast previously and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. There was community to rest in, a church home to be caught by, and we just knew that this was where God was calling us to serve. We had such high expectations and feelings of excitement. But, true to the military form, what we experienced upon arrival was not anything close to what we had our hearts set upon.
Everyone we knew from before had either moved, retired, or we had fallen out of touch. So, community building was now a struggle. Our church family had greatly been impacted by COVID-19, so they were not meeting. As far as my plan for ministry, well… the Lord had other plans. As it turned out, I would be rebuilding our life from scratch – something I had not mentally or emotionally prepared myself to do.
The task of spending all of my energy to make new connections seemed daunting, leaving me full of frustration and anxiety. In addition, we had moved in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, so every single way I knew to make friends was completely unavailable.
If only new friendships could be easy. You know, like “plug and play” friends. I dreamed of finding people that would just naturally leave an open chair wherever we ended up. I prayed for people to be placed in our path who would be ready to receive us.
As much as I needed companionship, my children needed it more. My husband, only three weeks after we arrived on the coast, was sent for a 365-short tour to Korea. They took it hard. Here we were, in a strange house with no friends…until a few of the women who were in the same home school community swooped in for the rescue.
To say that these women were phenomenal would be the understatement of the year. They kindly and tenderly carried all of the weight of building a friendship. They called me. They made plans. They intentionally included all of us.
I was beyond refreshed by their willingness to step into the mess and make a friendship work. Both women called to check in weekly, asked me how I was really doing, and made all the difference in what could have been the worst six months our family could have faced.
Here’s what I’m thankful for, and what I would love to share with our civilian community counterparts about how to love us well.
I’m thankful for friends who will make the first move by calling me, checking in, and planning the things.
I’m too tired to make new friends. With being a “married, but single” woman, the only adult in the house trying to herd feral children into bed, and juggling 35 million balancing balls of responsibility, I have little to no room for a social life. I won’t remember to call, or even if I do have one moment of quiet, I want it for myself. Someone else making the first call, letting me off the hook for one more thing, is life-giving in a way that hard to express in words.
I’m thankful for friends that allow for the messiness of my life right now.
Every little thing is hard right now. I’m grateful for people that do not expect me to volunteer, clean up after events, or to remember a multitude of details. Even in normal settings, I am at least 15 minutes late (all of the time). I might as well throw my watch in the garbage at this point. One woman texts me to remind me of all the things I need to remember for the upcoming school week. Being able to relax, knowing that these women will still be there throughout the seasonal drama of this time, is amazing.
I’m thankful for women that meet real needs.
Right after my husband left for Korea, we got hit with Hurricane Zeta. We lost power for nearly five days. When Murphy showed up this time, he showed all the way out. The level of stress that ensues with four kids, two dogs, and an entire fridge full of spoiling food is immense. One of our new friends opened her home, letting us mooch her electricity while she fed us two square meals a day. We would return home right before dark with full bellies and charged electronics. There is no greater love than a practical one.
I hope that when this season is over that I will be one of these rare companions, to act first, make grace, and meet needs.
Megan B. Brown is a seasoned military spouse and military missionary. She is the Military Liaison for the Speak Up Conference Global Missions Military Scholarship and the 2019-Armed Forces Insurance Robins AFB Military Spouse of the Year. She is passionate about military mission work and teaching and preaching about Jesus in and out of the local church. Her Bible study, “Summoned: Answering a Call to the Impossible,” published by Moody Publishers in Chicago, will release in May 2021. She lives in south Mississippi with her husband, Keith, and their energetic kiddos. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, and freelance writer. To learn more or connect with Megan, visit www.meganbbrown.com.