I never knew how much I needed a community until I became a military spouse. In every knowing look I've exchanged with another military wife and every instant friend I've made when we reached a new assignment, I've learned what it is to be part of a tightly knit community, no matter what differences there are between us.
From the former marine movers who took extra care and time for me when my husband was deployed, to the spouse who helped me figure out how to use base medical facilities, these people have taught me that there are few communities on earth like ours. This crazy lifestyle becomes a part of our identities (whether we like it or not), and that common identity binds us together.
And yet, there are so many lonely times in military life. Through PCSs, deployments, TDYs, and all other manner of trips and travel, our circumstances can be isolating, even in a strong community. And sometimes, it isn't necessarily that we are literally alone, but we find ourselves missing a deep connection to others, especially when we are the new person in town and our friendships are just beginning, or we're struggling to find friends at all.
Our loneliness is to be expected because God created us to connect deeply to Him, and, through Him, to connect deeply to each other. He created us for fellowship. Adam needed Eve. Early in the Bible, Abraham and Noah took their extended families on the arduous journeys they endured. The Israelites wandered the desert in one enormous community. David had Jonathan and the mighty men. Jesus had the disciples.
In theory, the picture of community the Bible paints isn't so different from our beloved military community. However, rather than military service binding us together, we are joined through Christ. As each of us joins His body as a believer, we also join each other in the fellowship and oneness of that body. We become daughters and sons of God, alongside Christ — we become one family, one body.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5 ESV).God created us to connect deeply to Him, and through Him, to connect to each other.Click To Tweet
Today, we often get so caught up in denominations and individual churches that we forget that by placing our faith in Christ as individuals, we have all taken part in the redemption of Christ's sacrifice. In doing so, we are bound together through something even deeper than earthly service.
The Bible's depiction of the church and the Christian community isn't just one that meets on Sundays and once a week in a small group. It's Christ followers who depend on each other to be continually led to God. It involves everyday relationships with fellow Christians who spur one another on. Who support each other. Who serve each other. Who meet on the deep, soulful levels we long for because we share the most significant relationship any of us will ever have.
In reality, it can even be difficult to dig into local Christian communities, though. When you’re constantly moving or you feel overwhelmed and isolated by the challenges of military life, church can be a hard place to “fit in.” After numerous moves and even wounds from the church, many military spouses dread the "church search" and find themselves sitting in the back pews on Sunday (or none at all).
They stay at the fringes of a community, rather than in the heart of it. But experiencing Christian fellowship that way makes it difficult to fully extend and experience God's grace and design. He created us for a special kind of community — that's why we love our military family so much. That's why we can feel lonely even when people are around but the deeper connections are missing.
This week, I want to challenge you to join me on a journey to build a community of Christ following military spouses who live out the daily fellowship God designed for us, no matter where we are in the world. In pursuing this unity in Christ, we won't be replacing church, but we can build a spiritual raft that deepens our community and our relationships with God. We can offer one another fellowship during those in-between times, when we're in the midst of a PCS or a deployment or whatever else might isolate us from the community, support, and love that God wants for us.
We can use our military community as a framework for the fellowship God meant for us to have, but that can sometimes get lost in our nomadic lifestyle. Together we can create a community where we find understanding for our unique challenges, and we strive to use them for God's glory. I challenge you to join me in conquering the loneliness of military life.
Over the next few weeks, we will dive into what a true fellowship of Christian spouses might look like, how that impacts our friendships, and how we can use that fellowship to represent God in our military community as a whole. This week, I challenge you to take the first step toward this community by joining our newly created Facebook group. There, we can start the journey of praying for, encouraging, supporting, and connecting with one another. And don't just shrug this challenge off — we need you there. Yes, you! We need the lessons and wisdom that God is speaking into your life. As a community, we need the gifts and experiences He's uniquely given to you. We want to know you as our fellow sister in Christ.
Since we'll be spending the next few weeks talking about and creating a community, consider how you might reach out to friends and ask them to join you on this journey. Consider inviting someone who's lonely and needs a community to lean into. This won’t just be Spousehood’s community. It’s going to be OUR community. That means it’s just as much yours as anyone else’s. Let’s build it together.
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How would you describe your willingness to dive into fellowship with other believers? If there is hesitancy, why do you think it’s there?
What are some of the excuses you are using/have used in the past to avoid investing 100% in a community?
First, consider the challenge laid out in the devotional above and join us! Then pray for unique ways for God to cross your path with other Christians and for connections to occur. Ask God to help facilitate community in your life and look for ways He answers.