Out of Place – Chantel’s Story
As I sat curled up in the nook of our oversized chair with tears flowing down my cheeks I reached for my cup of tea since it always comforts me. I was snuggled up in our cozy lounge chair with a bible at my side and a sleeping baby cradled in my arms which should be pure bliss right? But, for me it was a moment of heartache. I was trying to be silent as I cried so I didn’t wake my sweet girl, but the lonely ache was overcoming me. I felt so alone and overwhelmed from our recent move and the upcoming deployment. We were in a new home and at a new duty station where I didn’t know anyone. I felt lost, alone and like I just didn’t belong. I didn’t even know where the grocery store was let alone where any mom friends might be.
Being a military wife I was used to moving and starting over. We had done it many times, but it doesn’t mean that it gets easier. Some aspects like navigating the movers I got used to, but settling in is always tough for me. It just takes time to feel at home and to have friends that are like worn in jeans that just fit right. The thing about worn-in jeans is that it takes time to get them to the worn-in stage doesn’t it? And time was not on my side for this move since the upcoming deployment would be happening in the next few weeks. This was also the first move as a mom and, in my mind, made things different. I knew enough about motherhood to know that it was better in community. But, where do I find friends? And how was I going to do all of this without my guy by my side?
God is our hope, but…
My heart hurt imagining a year in a place that I didn’t feel I belonged and it was weighing heavy on my heart along with a million other things that go into being a new mom and a military wife. I knew this would be just a temporary location, but I wanted to feel at home while we lived there. A military spouse knows her time at that duty station is temporary, but isn’t it true of all of us? We are not permanent residents of anywhere. Our permanence and belonging need to rest in God. He is our hope.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” 1 John 4:4 NIV
While God is our hope, He created us for community and connection as well. He understands our longing for belonging and the desire for connection. The greatest connection we can make is with our Father and I would say that one of the blessings about military life and constant change is my relationship and reliance on God has increased through each move, deployment, loss and change. He has been my constant companion and is yours as well and all we need to do is receive the precious gift of His grace and love.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
Embracing God’s grace as a military wife is something I have treasured and the closeness I have felt through this often lonely, exciting and constantly changing way of living brings me comfort. Through the trials of our lives, isn’t it comforting to know He never leaves us or forsakes us? What a gift we have been given.
It starts with an invitation
Sitting in my living room with my sweet girl nuzzled close I tried to cling to that hope, but the weight felt too heavy to carry. I opened my Bible and searched for God’s wisdom and cried out for Him to send me a friend. Slowly sipping my earl grey tea I studied His word and felt pressed on my heart the answer to be a friend. The impact of that realization touched me as I soaked in that I didn’t need to have God send me a friend, but instead I needed to be a friend. I didn’t know how I would do that since I didn’t know anyone yet, but as I cradled my warm tea cup it struck me that I could just invite someone to tea. Wonder if I just shared what I loved and invited someone to tea. Wonder if I just reached out first and created community one cup of tea at a time.
And that is what I did. Within a few months my cozy living room was packed with women that were longing for more then tea. They were longing for belonging. They wanted community, true connection and Christ. I had invited one woman to tea and then another and eventually we had a communiTEA and somewhere to belong. Once I embraced what I loved and reached out to share it with others community grew. So, what do you love? What could you share?
How could you reach out? Maybe it really is as simple as a cup of tea. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!
Meet Chantel Mathson
Chantel Mathson serves as the Moms in Prayer International Ministry Development Coordinator and was the military families liaison. She is an inspiring communicator who shares hope and ignites joy in others. Chantel is an International speaker, best selling author, coach, college professor, military spouse mentor, community builder and tea enthusiast. Her international ministry,Tea With Chantel, helps women live with purpose, create connection and build community centered on Christ. As a military wife, Chantel has moved a dozen times and has a heart for helping military wives connect, create community and have hope through their journey. She shares her heart and home with her husband, three kids and two dogs. She loves to connect one cup of tea at a time! You can connect with her on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram. Be sure to check out her MilSpouse community on Instagram as well!
*Feature Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash