The word “temporary” echoes in my mind this week.
It only seems appropriate that this week I’ve watched once vibrant flowers wither and fade right in front of me. From the bouquet of red roses handed to me by my husband during his change of command ceremony to the burnt red and yellow lilies that line our driveway.
Alive and beautiful one moment. Fading away the next.
“The grass withers and the flower fades…” Isaiah 40:8
I see the evidence all around as this word keeps returning to me.
Everything withers and fades away this side of heaven, doesn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but I long for this to not be the case.
I long for the beauty of the flowers to never fade.
I long for there to always be things like tall blue skies with wispy clouds that cool the warmth of the sun’s rays on my skin, surrounded by greenery and life bursting forth all around me.
I long for my people to always be with me. The man I love. The babies I’ve carried. The tribe of friends and sisters I’ve found. The family and community I’m surrounded by.
I long for the everlasting.
We all long for permanence – the ability to hold onto things and never have to let go them go.
We long to feel safe and secure, always knowing what to expect – to build ourselves a life and shelter that never falls or changes or moves.
And perhaps this is because we were originally designed for permanence, to be eternally in His presence in the beautiful Garden.
But for now, the reality of our existence is in the temporary with this longing for the permanence. A longing for Him.
Afterall, the second half of that verse from Isaiah 40:8 speaks it, everything around us fades and is temporary, “BUT the Word of our God lasts forever.”
In this temporal space of brief and changing moments that we call life, we wrestle with our reality of the temporary and the built in desire for the everlasting.
Sometimes this makes life just feel wrong. Like things are not as they should be. We experience change and loss and fleeting moments, and it often hurts because we want to hold onto them forever. We watch people and relationships wither and fade away. This is hard, and it hurts.
We feel this disconnect, this gap, created by what should be and what is, and it opens itself to fill with grief and fear and worry and discomfort and discontentment and dissatisfaction and bitterness and resentment and on and on…
Nothing quite creates this awareness of the temporary and this ache for permanence in me like Army life does.
Army life provides continual reminders that nothing is permanent. That things, from lives to homes to jobs and more, could and do change at any second, feeling more frequent and present than in the civilian world.
Life always feel temporary. And the temporary tends to always feel off. Like you want to sit down but why bother because you know you’ll have to get up the next moment.
As an Army wife, I’ve struggled to settle, to build, to invest, to create where I am because of this, and I know I’m not alone.
And so I sit at my kitchen table watching those roses wither away in front of me, my mind flashes back to the day I received them.
After watching my husband successfully complete his command, checking off another temporary position in the Army, the words of his commander’s wife, who jokingly and lovingly called us wives her “pretend” friends (because that’s sometimes what us Army wives have to do in this temporary nature of the “job” is call each other friends before we ever are by any technical definition of the word).
She looked into my eyes and asked the same questions so many are asking me these days:
“How are you feeling? Are you excited to be done and ready for the change?”
Her questions lingered in the air, almost as though the humidity in the air held them there.
I stood there confronted in this “in between” I find myself in – the ending of one journey and the embarking on a new one – and I too felt stuck, not really sure how to respond.
This season has been good to us, and it’s hard to see that come to a close. And while we have a new season ahead where I can imagine new and different good to come to us… change is still hard and the temporary and transient nature that is emphasized in this lifestyle is hard.
And this next change, this next season awaiting us in just over a month, screams this word “temporary.”
The words we recently spoke to the couple who signed the rental contract for the home we fell in love with added to the echo as I sat in the kitchen thinking:
“Just to be clear again. The lease is only for 10 months. Not 12. We just want to make sure you understand.”
10 months. Not even a full year. That’s the length of this next season. We’ll be moving away from all we’ve come to know and all we’ve built, just for a very brief season.
And I can feel it rise up in me like the heat in my body from the blazing summer sun that day of the my husband’s change of command…
How the idea of temporary is trying to be a Goalith in my life right now…
How it’s trying to stand up all tall in front of me and speak sadness and fears and worries into me….
How I can see it trying to stand in my way…
I wonder how I’m going to connect in such a short time in a place with no pre-established connections.
No Army community. No people we know. We don’t have any references for schools or churches or babysitters other than Google right now. It’s completely foreign territory.
And I wonder how I’m going to thrive there and not just survive.
I think about how painfully long it takes me to connect with other people. My mind tries to compute this and tells me that it takes approximately one year for me to get to know people to the place where I can forge relationships with them. That’s 12 months. Not 10.
How in the world am I (are we) going to find people in a new place, a new state, going in blind, and form community within 10 months time? What if I can’t or we don’t? I can almost feel the loneliness, the isolation, the pain and danger creeping in.
The desire for relationships and connections is strong but the temptation is to not bother trying… because it’s so temporary.
Why bother looking for friendships when I know how long it takes me anyway?
Why bother investing in temporary places and temporary relationships?
And connection in itself is hard anyways, isn’t it? It’s not just the length of time it takes to connect, it’s the fears we all have that come along with connection.
Attempting connection and relationship is risky in and of itself. We risk being burned, rejected, used, betrayed.
Why bother looking for connection in something that is so risky and temporary?
But I’ve come to a place after 7 moves in 10 years, after walking with Jesus for half my life, after walking through losing a child and a father and so much more, and I’ve learned…
The answer is because God.
And isn’t everything temporary this side of eternity? No matter how much we try to fool ourselves or build something of permanence here, it’s all temporary, whether it’s days, months, or years, nothing here is lasting.
But God still works here. There is still purpose in this temporary life that changes and withers and fades. And that’s where the true beauty and goodness of life lies.
“To everything there is a season time purpose…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” Ephesians 5:15-16
I know He has a plan and purpose with this temporary move. I know He has things to accomplish and show us and ways He wants to grow us in the course of the 10 months we’re in this new place.
He knows I need community and people and other women to pour into me and for me to pour into them, to walk along side of through whatever comes our way. He knows all the needs I will have and will meet them according to His will and timing.
I know that we only ever have the day in front of us and that every moment matters. I know He works in all things, in our brief and fleeting lives and moments.
I know He isn’t giving me a pass and say, “Yeah you’re right. It’s only 10 months, don’t even waste your time getting connected while you’re there.”
Because I know God is calling us there for a purpose. And I know He is going to use every moment for His glory and for our growth and sanctification.
So as these questions about how I’m doing in this season of change that come at me this week, more and more frequently by the people whom I’ve invested in here and who have invested in me, I answer them in two parts. With transparency about the hard parts of leaving and saying see ya later. But also in confidence and peace that I am both confident and at peace as we ready ourselves for this next adventure, this next season.
And that’s because I’ve surrendered every day and every season to Him, and I’m expecting Him there.
I know He goes before me. I know nothing is in vain and He will use everything to accomplish His work in us and His plan for us.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
No matter what this next temporary season ends up bringing, I know God is there, and there’s a purpose in it if I seek to find Him in it and listen for His calling and obey.
And honestly, maybe for the first time ever, that excites me. My heart is eager.
Being called forth to go, especially out into the unknown, can be hard and scary. But that’s what Jesus calls us to. He calls us out to follow Him.
I’m reminded of the infamous story of Jesus calling Peter out of the safety of the boat to walk on the water with Him.
I’m reminded of God calling Jonah to go to Ninevah.
And of all the times He calls His followers out of their safe places and what they know to go forth with Him. Scripture doesn’t paint it as easy for them. They’re afraid. They doubt. They complain. They even run away.
But we always see how it is good for them to go with God, and it is good for us to with God too.
I’m reminded of the words I recently read of Oswald Chambers:
“If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God…”
I’ve learned that God doesn’t call us to stay where we are and build comfortable lives and a life we can count on.
He calls us out to find what we long for in Him and to be His hands and feet in this temporary world to prepare us all for eternity.
He who is everlasting. Never changing. Always faithful. Always true. He is our Comfort, our Refuge, our Shelter. He is the only One we can count on and hope in.
He is the only One who can fill our eternal desires in this temporary and ever-changing life.
And so I can make Goliath fall and confidently walk out on the water with Him. I can leave the security of the boat or the dock or this place or wherever I am to walk with Him, the One who is secure, wherever He leads me and for how ever long.
Because abundant life is following Him wherever He leads me, trusting my temporary to Him, and finding my eternity with Him.
So in this next temporary season, I will choose courage and connection and take risks and invest and open my eyes to find Him right where I find myself. I will seek His face and listen for His voice. And I know I will find Him.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 13
How does our perspective change when we live like this?
It makes us expectant and confident and hopeful in the temporary, even when things wither and fade and change.
Earlier in my reading of My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers wrote:
“If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark… Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it.”
Let that be a charge to us all today.
Is God calling you to take a leap in the dark with something, someone, or somewhere?
Let us follow Him in confident expectation when confronted with the temporary nature of our lives.