When my boys were four and eight years old, my husband got orders for Germany. We had just moved to North Carolina a few months before, so as you can imagine, the news was not a happy surprise.
Normally, orders for overseas come months in advance, but we were only given about six weeks notice. We had to do the countless things that need to be done before a regular move, plus we had the added stress of getting passports and attending briefings for overseas duty stations. The timeline also needed to include a visit to New Jersey to say goodbye to family before heading out of the country.
I was already struggling with depression and I was particularly lonely since leaving Fort Benning, Georgia where I had an amazing circle of friends and a strong church family.
I wish I could tell you that I put my big girl panties on and was a rock for my family. Just thinking about myself during that time makes me cringe. I was overly emotional about everything. I had no desire to live out of the country. I have issues with hearing loss so I was fearful of the language barrier on top of everything else. It wasn’t my shining moment as a military wife.
Six weeks flew by and the next thing I knew, we touched down in Germany. We arrived to the news that there was a problem with our orders. We had to wait while they figured out the issue. We ended up stuck in a very crowded and hot room, with two exhausted kids, for hours. There was nothing to do but wait until they figured out where we were going to live.
We eventually settled in and things were pretty good. George liked the command he was working for, the kids had fantastic teachers at school, and I became heavily involved in the Parent Teacher Organization. I’m not sure why we were fighting so much.
We were blessed to get to travel to so many amazing places we would never have gotten to see if we didn’t move to Germany. We drove to Paris, Italy, Denmark, and Amsterdam. We saw museums and beautiful countrysides. We laughed and sang and joked on the road trips all around Europe. I’m not sure why we were fighting so much.
We had the privilege of sharing our European adventures with our twelve year old nephew that summer. The boys loved bonding and hanging out with their cousin. I’m not sure why we were fighting so much.
December rolled around and the PTO hosted a Christmas Around the World at the school. The kids got to go to different tables to make a holiday craft. My eight year old, Josh, came running up to show me what he had just made for me. He was bursting with excitement and pride.
He handed me the sweetest little pipe cleaner wreath made with wooden and plastic beads. He gingerly pointed to each one and told me why he chose that particular embellishment.
I noticed there was a chunk missing from the blue button at the top of the wreath. My son’s smile lit his whole face as he explained that he had picked the broken button on purpose. He told me the wreath is a circle like our family. It goes on forever and all the beads are together. The broken button means that even though sometimes we fight and are broken, it’s ok because we are still a family and we love each other. Nobody is perfect.
I was blown away with the insight of my sweet boy. And I was instantly humbled.
I figured out why we were fighting. We were trying to deal with all the changes and all the stress on our own accord. We forgot that the head of our family is Christ. He was right there the whole time, ready for us to just let go and trust him so he could usher in his peace and his unity. Leave it to Jesus to use a little one to set me straight!
It’s like that in God’s family, too. Sometimes we hurt each other. We fight, we are careless, we are selfish. We offend and we get offended. We forget that God is in charge. But we are still part of the family circle, broken buttons and all. Nobody is perfect.
That was almost 20 years ago and that little wreath still hangs on a peg in my dining room. When I see it, I go right back to that school cafeteria in Germany where my little boy spoke God’s grace straight into his Momma’s heart.
And a little child shall lead them