Earlier this year I went to visit my mother and stepfather, my dad, and my mother's side of the family. 2 weeks ago it was my daughter's Birthday, quickly followed by Father's Day. Recently I preached at Patmos chapel. This past weekend I went to a family reunion on my father's side in Atlanta. It has been a busy 2-3 weeks. What have I learned...?
That I am tired. Years of moving house to house, base to base, and unit to unit has made me so tired of moving, that I have become sedentary and am developing my family's gut (lol).
What am I tired of? Losing friends and loved ones. When life is always spent unpacking from the recent move, or prepping for the next, one learns to not place much stalk in deep relationships. I have had good friends in the military. In each unit and at each duty station there were people in my life who genuinely loved me and looked out for me. But I knew I would be leaving, and so I didn't invest in people. That is my loss.
Now I could get real spiritual and quote the song, "this world is not my home. I'm just a pilgrim passing through" and other such glibly noble attempts to massage my lack, but the truth is that even if my mind is oriented toward heaven I still have to live in the real world, and even a pilgrim's life is more pleasant when it's not walked alone.
I have spent so much of my life emotionally alone. This is foreign to my wife, and detrimental to my daughter. More than that, it is now painful for me.
I miss my family. when I left Atlanta last weekend I was emotionally down. I wanted more time with the family I had just met, the family I had reconnected with, and the friends I saw while there. There was not enough time. When I left my mother's house a few weeks ago I was also down. I didn't want to leave. I would have loved stay in Ohio longer, spend more time with my mother's family. I have a deep love for my family.
I miss my German friends. I spent 3 years in Germany. While there I attended a wonderful SDA Church in Giessen. The young people there were so kind to me: Jan and Anja, Ulf and his wife, Rieni, Agnus, Anita, Anka, Gersom, there was a little guy with glasses whose name I forget. We traveled, sang, laughed...I spent the night so many times at Agnus' home I thought I lived there. It was Rieni who taught me my first love of PC video games like Ages of Empires. I even preached at the German church once, with my good friend Agnus interpreting. Where are they now? Aside from brothers Jan and Ulf, and their families, I have no idea. I did not stay in touch. I am deeply thankful for these people.
I miss my Ranger friends. I learned so much from those men: Loyalty, hard work, team work, self-sacrifice to name a few things. They taught me to push myself beyond the limits I consider to be my breaking point, that I can always do more, that there is time to sleep or sit when I die, that there is always something else to be conquered. Life is meant to be lived, not watched. I am deeply grateful to these men.
If I could do it again I would have stayed in better touch with all of them. As it stands now, I simply choose to be close to those who wish to be close to me, who have demonstrated themselves as genuine, and I ask myself if I have been the same for them. I try to give back, to look out for those who are transitioning as I was, to bless others the way these people have blessed me.
Why do I do this? Because I want my family to be a family, not just a gypsy troop. I want my daughter to know the joy of deep, meaningful relationships as a manifestation of God's presence. I don't want her to simply tolerate, or worse, use people in a life as transitory as mine has been.
Stability...the one thing this world offers that it cannot provide. However, when one has strong, Godly family ties and friendships, one has about as much stability as is possible this side of glory.