Story of a Military Move: Searching for Friendship, Finding God

Story of a Military Move: Searching for Friendship, Finding God

Being a military wife comes with its share of ups and downs. It’s not easy to live far away from family, especially when your family is huge and your youngest sibling is only 8, and when you count your mom and your sister as your two best friends. However, on the flip side to this hardship is one of the very best things about military life- the incredible friendships that are formed with all of the people (who are also living away from their support networks) in the military community.

Some of my dearest and truest friends are fellow military wives. There is something about being in a community of women who all share the joy and burden of having a spouse who serves that is unlike any other community I have ever encountered, and quite possibly that even exists. These women have been with me through two long deployments, and there is no way I could have made it without them. They have shared in and celebrated personal accomplishments that my husband couldn’t be there for (becoming a certified yoga instructor, my first half marathon, starting a new job). They were there throughout my pregnancy, and when we welcomed Jack into our lives. And they were there when Mack left for his second deployment three weeks after Jack was born and I had to navigate being a new mom without my husband. They were there for the month+ where he cried from morning until night, and sometimes even longer (and thanks to them I only lost my mind a little bit, as opposed to probably going full-on crazy without them). Some of my happiest moments, and some of my darkest days have been spent with them by my side.  Long story short, the hard parts about being a military wife- deployments, a spouse who works crazy hours, living far away from loved ones- are muted when you have such great friends to go through it all with you. I’m certain that God gave me those friends because He knew they were exactly what I needed during that time in my life.

So… when I first got the news about our current military family situation, I was a little hesitant. We currently live in Oregon- just about as far away from my family in Pennsylvania as we can get. On top of that, we are not located on a military base, or anywhere near one, which means that amazing friendship network I mentioned – you guessed it, basically nonexistent here. Let me tell you, making friends in a brand new place (without the military community) where you don’t know a soul and you are a stay-at-home mom is no easy feat! But I was determined when we arrived here, I’m an outgoing person and I felt confident that I would be able to make friends in no time. I wandered to the park daily and hoped to meet some other moms, I even gave a few people my phone number. No one called. I created a meetup group and scheduled a meetup. No one came. So I scheduled another meetup. No one came, again. The loneliness started to creep in hard and fast.

But something else happened too. I found myself spending more and more time with God. I was praying more and telling Him about my worries and frustrations. I had more time to read the Bible and books on the Saints. I had more time to say the Rosary. I started writing (hence this blog..) I literally started to speak out loud to God at random times throughout the day, like He was… my friend. Maybe I did have a friend, now how about that?

In Divine Mercy in my Soul, St. Faustina records a conversation she had with our Lord in which He says to her,

“My daughter… why do you not tell Me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details? Tell Me about everything, you know this will give Me great joy… Yes I do  [already] know [everything]; but you should not excuse yourself with the fact that I know, but with childlike simplicity talk to Me about everything, for My eyes and heart are inclined towards you, and your words are dear to Me.”

God literally wants our relationship with Him to be so intimate as to make Him our best and truest friend. Billions of people on the earth, but that is how much He loves each one of us, so much that our seemingly insignificant words are dear to Him and He wants us to talk to Him about even the smallest details of our lives. He wants more than a hello at mass on Sunday and the occasional please and thank you.  He wants us to desire to be in his presence even more than we desire the time spent with our best girlfriends. Sometimes a period of loneliness is the only way we can ever actually figure this out.

St Josemaria Escriva writes in The Forge,

“Don’t look for consolation apart from God… There should be no unburdening of your heart to any other friend when there is no need to do so.”

God wants to know our hearts, and He wants us to desire that He does. He wants us to know that only He can ever really give us all that we need, and that He is always right there, in every moment of our lives. He will never move away, or grow cold, or hold a grudge.

So, I have come to realize that despite the way I felt initially, God was actually giving me a gift when we moved here- the gift of His friendship. He was reminding me that He is all I really need, that His friendship is the most important thing to have in this life, and that He will always love me more than anyone on earth ever could.

Does this mean I don’t still want and need earthly friends? No way- they are also a gift from God and a very important part of our journey as Christians and as moms. I am so grateful for strong friendships. But I can now be grateful for my “dry season” of friendship too, because God was working on bigger things with me (as He always is when things seem harder than they should be) that probably couldn’t have happened if I had found friends here right away. He had to humble me to show me how much I needed Him.  I still get lonely sometimes and miss my family and friends, but I don’t feel as hopeless as I did at first because I know that God is always with me. Plus, now that God and I are pretty tight, He has started to send some other friends my way and things are definitely getting a little easier.

Just like any friendship, it takes time and effort to remain strong and fruitful, and I hope that no matter where the military takes us, I will always remember to put my friendship with God first. I’m sure if I start to slack, He will have His own way of reminding me, just like any good friend would.

 

 

Praying the Rosary as Mothers

Praying the Rosary as Mothers

On this feast of the Nativity of our Blessed Mother, I wanted to take a minute to talk about one of the gifts given to us by our dear Mother, the rosary.

The rosary is by no means a new form of prayer for me. Growing up we often gathered as a family around our statue of Our Lady of Fatima, all of us kneeling on the ground with our rosaries in hand. The older kids took turns leading each decade while the little ones clamored to get a spot kneeling as close as possible to our mom (often leaving her surrounded) because there is just something so special about being as deep in the midst of a mother’s love as possible. Reflecting back now, I can see just how incredibly beautiful it was that as my siblings inched closer to my mom during this time of prayer, she was instilling in us the importance of pulling ever closer to our spiritual mother.

The rosary is a special and beautiful prayer that is unique to us as Catholics, and yet it is one of the elements of our faith that is most frequently under attack from outside of our community. Many non-Catholic Christians accuse us of worshiping Mary and giving her more devotion than Jesus himself. This is not the case. We honor Mary and pray to her to intercede for us to her Son. Jesus loved Mary, His mother, with the intense love that children have for their mothers. So who better to bring the needs and desires of our heart to Him than Mary herself? He did not refuse her when she implored His help at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), and He will not refuse her when she approaches Him on our behalf. Beyond her ability to intercede for us, Mary deserves a special place in our hearts. It was her YES to God that changed the course of humanity (Luke 1:38). She can teach us to be obedient to our Lord, and to give ourselves fully to Him.

While I grew up saying the rosary, it wasn’t until recently that I have come to truly love reciting it. As mothers, the Rosary is a particularly special way to grow closer to Mary, and consequently, to Jesus. In the rosary, we reflect on the life of Jesus through his mother’s eyes. As mothers, we know that we have a unique perspective on the lives of our children. We see them and love them differently than anyone else on earth, we conceived them, and grew them within ourselves, and that bond stays with us always. The rosary lets us reflect on the relationship our most holy mother had with her most holy Son. We can relate to her in some capacity, but more importantly, we can learn to love in a more profound way than we could have ever imagined by reflecting on her most perfect love of our Lord.There is no better role model for us a mothers, than the mother of our own Lord and Savior.

If you are not in the habit of praying the rosary, then I encourage you to start today. What better gift to give our Blessed Mother on her birthday than the gift of a relationship with her and with her Son? I promise that you will start to see a change in the way you live out your vocation as a mother when you begin to spend time meditating on the most beautiful story of motherhood ever told.

Happy Birthday, Mother Mary.