I swing the door wide as my 90 year old grandmother clutches my arm, making her way in to the lobby of her assisted living facility. The rush of my day falls away as I intentionally take smaller steps, listening longer and harder to her stories, pushing away the urge to get things done. Because this world moves fast, and well, she doesn’t. She can no longer see, but her mind is sharp. The memories that made up her younger days are clearer and crisper than of those who visited her yesterday.
As I say my goodbyes, another resident approaches me. She is desperate to talk and has heard that I too am a military spouse. She is determined to share experiences of her 36 years as a Marine Corp spouse. She asks me to come back, and won’t I please bring my husband?
I recognize the sparkle of pride in her eyes at having done something she never thought she could. Because this military life will do that to a person. It will take you to the brink of what you think you can endure, and push you further than you thought you could ever go.
For years, there was a fear that lurked in the recesses of my mind that kept me pinned in place. My feet were tied to what I knew, places that were familiar, and experiences I could predict.
But the love of a man entwined with this heart and that of the Holy Spirit, shifting my world forever.
This life, whether living the nomadic life of a military family or planting firm half a block from where you grew up, can bring us to the edge of our own strength, and requires us to do some unbelievably heavy lifting.
We can try on our own, but we quickly run out of strength and energy. Because how does one live through the dark hours of night while your husband’s battalion is under attack, and not reach the end of yourself? How does one face that fourth deployment in as many years and not reach for something more?
We can be confident as we face those dark nights. We are able to boldly approach what scares us the most because our hope is found in a God that soars beyond our circumstances.
This hope does not rest in ourselves but in a God who moves and breathes with our name on His lips. It is a hope that flourishes beyond our limitations.
It is these days of doing what we thought we never could, that will etch deepest in to the glass of our long-term memories.
Taking care of five babies under five and living to tell about it.
Moving for the sixth time and making new friends AGAIN.
Caring for that elderly parent or handicapped child.
Holding down a full time job while parenting little ones.
These are the moments that, when reflecting back over the days of our lives, will stand out as having seen the hand of God crispest and clearest. These are the memories that will pop as pivotal moments in our spiritual growth. When our faith was stretched and we knew without a doubt it was our Father in heaven who accomplished in us what we could never do in our own strength.
Lori Dunham is the wife of a Navy Chaplain, a mother to three energetic children, and one very lazy bassett hound. Lori’s writing is inspired by her deep desire to encourage others in their faith, and to share God’s story in her life. Her family’s ministry has taken them to the hills of Thailand, the shores of Italy, and the streets of Singapore. She shares of her struggle with secondary infertility, their great joy through adoption, and the up’s and down’s of military life at her blog, www.standingwiththemilitaryfamily.com.