Strong Roots

For the past few days I’ve been attending and participating in a training seminar in Washington, D.C. It’s theme was “Strong Roots-Sustainable Futures.” I love that idea and was happy to be a part of such a positive event for educators, counselors, and many others who support and love the Military Child.

We had a brief discussion on the panel I moderated on what that theme means which included much on the topic of roots. How can you be ‘rooted’ anywhere as a Military family? The multiple assignments of the service member often mean multiple moves for the family, as well.

One Military mom said it’s growing roots ‘fast.’ She needed new friends right away when they arrived at a new duty station because, come school registration, she would need to put at least one person down as the Emergency Contact on her children’s forms! We all laughed because it sounded so familiar. As an Army mom myself, I know I could relate completely. But I mentioned that not only do we plant roots quickly, but personally, I planted them deeply, as well.

My belief is that you have to become a part of that new community. It’s an “all in” mentality that this is now our home for how ever long the Army says so we have to be involved and engaged in its activities. We can’t remain ‘out of the fray’ because we will only be there for a year, for example. We’ve got to act from Day 1, (after the boxes are empty and out of the house!), like we’ve always lived there.

When we do that, it is painful when the too-soon day comes and you have to rip out the roots of your family’s life in that place. But to me it was always worth the pain. Worth it because it meant I had been part of the living organism of that community. And, by extension and with great intention, so had our family.

Pain is definitely part of life, whether it’s physical pain or emotional, we will all experience it. Suffering is part of the human condition. But some pain is more obviously worthwhile than others. When a baby is getting a new tooth, there is pain. You can look at any child suffering from teething and know that red little, contorted face is greatly suffering. But we humans need teeth! So we all accept that this type of pain is a necessary part of life. Some pain can be sacrificial and so willingly accepted, as exemplified with wounded Soldiers in combat. In my faith, we believe that the suffering of Jesus Christ was salvific for humankind. That means He redeemed the world, all of us in our sin and while we were hopelessly lost, He saved us. That’s a worthwhile, indeed crucial, suffering. Pain can have meaning and be good when we know that pain is caused to gain something beneficial.

So, the pain of “ripping out our roots,” after a year or two or three, in one home to travel to the next is a pain I would willingly accept to have had a rewarding, fulfilling, sometimes sorrowful, often joy-filled time in the current location. I met and know too many wonderful people to count because of that ‘digging in’ to the community. I would love and work with others, help as many as I could, and many times receive support from others when my husband was serving in the Army. 21 times. 21 communities. A few were repeats, but the nature of the Army means that there were mostly new people to meet in that ‘old’ community. It’s always a ‘new’ home, even when it’s a place we’d been stationed before.

Then there are the roots that never are removed or cut or dug out of the soil. The roots that connect us to the Body of Christ. Jesus spoke of a Vine and branches. That is a similar metaphor to our figurative roots. But the roots are within the foundation that fix us to a reality that will not change or move. The Body of Christ is unchanging though the members are also part of a living organism. A supernatural, spiritual organism, but one nonetheless. Because it’s made of individual people connected to Jesus, through the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I think these unmovable roots are the reason I could quickly grow those deep roots in each community and gratefully pull them up even amidst the pain and the tears. I have always known that I’m not Home yet and I should never get too comfortable any place here on earth. I’ve got things to do, places to go, people to see and love! What a privilege, what joy!

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