Once upon a time, God and Uncle Sam had this crazy idea that we should move to Japan. I fully admit, and it's somewhat obvious given my mental breakdowns via social media, that I came here kicking and screaming(and cussing and lamenting). I've had some high moments and low, low moments since getting here. Living in a fishbowl while feeling like a fish out of water. That's how I felt. I was the new kid. Again. Story of my life.
Last Tuesday, I had an epic pity party for myself. It was pretty pathetic and poorly attended. Just me. Crying to the audience of me. At least my attendees didn't argue with anything I was crying about. It hit me at some point that I was being a big loser. It occurred to me that every military dependent in the history of military dependents has felt exactly the same way I was feeling.
I figured it was time for me to suck it up and jump in with both feet. I realized nobody was holding me back but me. That's kinda how life works, I guess. Get involved or get left behind. Others may drag you along for a moment, but who's going to put in the effort to pursue you if you're constantly resisting.
So I decided to go on the retreat. I was wary. Fifty women, strangers for the most part. Where there's women, there's drama. I don't do drama. I saw you smirk in reference to the last three paragraphs, m'kay? I obviously do drama, but I keep it inside my own (I almost said self, but Sean would disagree) house.
Oh, to think that I almost didn't go. This weekend changed everything. Fifty-ish women who came from all over the world. There was young women, older women, every race represented. Women with and without kids, single women, divorced women. Two things we all had in common: Jesus Christ and military life.
Y'know what surprised me most? There was no drama. Well, there was a lot of weeping, but for good reason. There was no infighting. There was no gossiping. There was a bit of shyness, but by the Saturday night, everyone had come out of their shell. It was amazing.
Friendships were made. Testimonies were shared. Bonds were formed. Nobody was left out.
The greatest thing about moving every five minutes is that you get a fresh slate every where you go. You can recreate yourself in a sense. I don't have to be the shy kid anymore. I don't have to be the nervous military brat that I spent my entire childhood being. We are adults now. We're too old for shy! Sometimes the shy ones have to choose to be bold. I made that choice a few times this weekend and I was so much better for it. Being bold helps the whole group. It rubs off on people and pulls them out.
Someone I love very much is an atheist. When talking with him one time, I mentioned (and he may have accidentally agreed) that the one thing atheists can't argue is the personal, life changing experience of the Christian. That was so very apparent this weekend. All these women from so many backgrounds who were in complete unity on one thing. There was a Jamaican. There was a Korean. There was a Filipino. There was Japanese and Americans from every region.
I asked people to share their testimony Saturday night because my voice was shot and I wanted to listen vs talk. I have to say, not one person said, "Well, I was raised in church and here I am." People shared stories that no one would've ever guessed in a million years. Crazy, crazy, amazing stories. Stories of God using the worst possible circumstances and redeeming them. Pulling people out of the mess of life. Making their pain worth it. At the end of the night, it just showed how big and how amazing our God is. That he put us all together in that moment from all over the world to hear stories of his redeeming power.
I had many, many moments of, "Is this for real?" Just walking up to the chalet was one of those "Holy smokes. I am in Japan," moments. And God is not surprised by any of it.
We've been hitting on Psalm 139 a lot lately. It's gotta be my favorite. I've read it a thousand times, yet every time I get something new out of it. The one verse I keep revisiting is Psalm 139:16. It says, "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." If you're struggling, read that a time or two(or a hundred) and find peace in it.
Our speaker, Brenda Pace, was amazing. A military wife of 27 years who has written books on the subject. It was so refreshing to hear truth spoken from a woman who truly gets this military life. She took the time to speak with each of us individually throughout the weekend. She blended right in with the rest of us, playing games and laughing it up. I've never been to an event that the speaker joined in with the group. She's part of plantingroots.net that I thought I'd share for any of my military friends.
If you're holding back, don't. If you're lonely, get involved. If you've been hurt, get over it. That sounds harsh. I should say, Forgive, then get over it. People are crap. It's part of our human condition. People are going to hurt you and you're going to hurt people. You know, when you know that you've found your people. If you have to dig through the jerks to get to the gems, it's worth it. I highly, highly, highly recommend a retreat. It gets everyone on a level field. Everyone is out of their comfort zone and out of their element. There is nothing to hide behind in a setting like this.
I've been to a few other retreats. They were so stinking full of activities that it allowed no room for relationships to be formed. It was one of those mega church type retreats. Don't go to those. One way you can tell the difference: look at who is speaking, the schedule, and the amount of people going.
My tank is full after this weekend. Knowing I could've missed it makes my heart hurt. I made so many true, true friends that have caused me to see...so this is why we're here.