One of my biggest… we will call it a handicap… one of my biggest handicaps as a HUMAN is my tendency to grab a big bucket of AWKWARD and dump it all over myself right before I meet new people. I am TERRIBLE at those first meet-and-greets, and heaven forbid there be any time allocated for small talk, because DUDE. How do people even DO that?? Put me in front of a big crowd of women and I am fine. Put me behind the scenes, even better. Put me IN the crowd, where I have to possibly interact with other humans… ahhhh. My heart is literally picking up speed just thinking about it.
Suffice it to say that I really struggle when it comes to forming solid relationships that would hopefully then form into friendships. And this can be hard, and because my introvert self has many MANY extrovert characteristics, it can be harder on OTHER people to catch on to. Outside: FUN PARTY. Inside: DYING.
So when my husband and I got married, and I, by signing that contract in the back of the church, essentially signed up for a life of consistent uprooting, that was a little hard to swallow. It takes me a good year AT LEAST (normally 2 though) to begin to feel settled in a space and in a crowd, and when you move every 3 or so years, it can be tough to continually start over. You worry every time you may not find “Your People” at your next locale, and then spend the whole 3-5 years in isolation eating cookies in your pantry while hiding from your responsibilities as an adult. Not that I’ve done that before. Ever. Ok, maybe once or twice. A month. Ish.
Four years into our marriage, we moved to England. After an isolated three tough years in St. Louis, where I was trying to learn to be a parent, while still trying to get the hang of being a wife, which were both so overwhelming for me that I had no energy left to dig deep into relationships, I was TERRIFIED that I would be doing a repeat of that except in a country that didn’t have Target.
The thing about a military community overseas, though, is that EVERYONE is thinking the same thing on the flight over. Every minute on that plane takes you away from your bubble, from your family, from your support system, and closer to the Unknown. It is thrilling, it is terrifying, it is hard to take in while you do your best to quiet your infants on an overseas flight that is probably a red-eye which means your first impression will be through the lens of sleep deprivation and bunched-up nerves.
Because military moves tend to be cyclical, there were a lot of incoming families that got there around the same time as we did. And because we were all searching for the people who would get us through an unknown future, you have a tendency to find People right away. And I did. And I am so so thankful for that.
We were in England for five years. And, as it goes, just as you find your People in the beginning, you tend to also find your People right before you move. The friendships that I made in the last year of our tour were incredible, and as much as they filled me up, it was crushing to know that our lives would be crossing so shortly. The window was too small. And yet, it’s in those relationships, formed in church and barbecues and in the midst of stress and busyness and kids and callings and all sorts of Crazy, that I began to hear my calling. And so those relationships will be solidified for the rest of my life. And I am so so lucky for them.
One of these people was my dear friend Rachel. Rachel is what I like to call a Bridger. She is one of those people that can immediately form a bond with people. Any people. Any background. And it’s not because she is crazy and loud (which… I mean… I am not saying she ISN’T those things), and it’s not because she is constantly on the go (which… also, I’m pretty sure it COULD be said of her), but because, in those things, she is steady. In a world full of people who hop from thing to thing, myself included, and can get easily distracted even in the midst of a conversation (MYSELF INCLUDED), Rachel is steady. Rachel is present. Always willing to listen, always willing to help, never demanding or even expecting repayment.
I am crying as I write this, because I know that people like Rachel can be overlooked, if only because they never think to call attention to themselves. We are surrounded by people who take a selfie every time they drop a quarter in the Salvation Army bucket, and yet Rachel, and those like her, are MOVING MOUNTAINS quietly in the corner. And so the praise and the Likes and the Applause usually pass them by, looking for louder and more colorful personalities. And so people rush to mimic the ones getting the attention, while the ones that are actually making an impact are quietly ignored.
Which is why I was THRILLED to find out that my dear, dear friend Rachel has been nominated for the Military Spouse of the Year. You can look at her profile and see the LONG LONG list of DOCUMENTED ways that she has helped the communities she has been a part of, but that is not why I am asking you to take the time to vote for her. I want you to vote for her for the meals she brought my family when we were in the midst of an international move and I was so overwhelmed it felt like my brain was pouring out of my ears. I want you to vote for the countless times she stepped in exactly when I felt like I was crumbling under the weight of my job at the military chapel and in the women’s ministry. I want you to vote for the amazing kids she is raising, who were always just as willing to help me and anybody else out, without being asked. I want you to vote for the messages of love and courage she sent me after we moved when I felt like my world had just been torn open and I was terrified because I was starting over and had no People. And I want you to vote for her because I am sure you have someone in your life who is steady and THERE, who doesn’t get the recognition they deserve because THEY DON’T ASK FOR IT.
All you have to do is click the link below and click the “Vote Now” button at the top of the page. Voting ends on the ninth of February.
And cheers to all of you living a military life, or any sort of life that has you moving around. My prayer for you is that you find your Rachel at every stop along the way. 🙂