Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Relational Fatigue and Putting Down Roots

As I touched on in my last post, my entire adult life has been one of transition. First as a missionary, now as the military (Tangent alert: those two seemingly completely opposite lifestyles actually have an incredible amount in common. I fully believe that my time spent as a missionary was, in part, training for the military lifestyle. I have been incredibly fortunate to have all of those varied experiences as a foundation from which I draw my support and knowledge that I can not only survive this lifestyle, but thrive in it as well). Moving here, there, back again. Saying goodbye only to turn around and say hello. Leaving, staying. In some ways it's done me great favors; I can adjust relatively easy and quickly to new surroundings, it has given me a great sense and longing for adventure and an eagerness to try new things. In some ways, relational ways, I've allowed it to do me a disservice. I say goodbye a little too easily. That lesson came at great cost but there it is. While some people cry and hearts are wrenched when the time comes, I give a hug, a smile and say I'll see you again sometime (and really, that statement has proved rather right more often than I would have thought, luckily). I've slowly built up a wall surrounding the part of my heart that allows friends in. I by no means keep people out, but I don't allow them full access, unrestricted. I protect that part of my heart that knows a goodbye is inevitable, and start protecting myself from the first hello. I have been so fortunate and blessed by the way my life has unfolded, I hope I'm not coming across sounding bitter or snobby about it. I feel like my friends are branches on my tree of life, some grow this way, some that way, some together, but all grow from the base. Sometimes the branches break, sometimes they grow stronger.

Since getting married I have thought a lot about roots. Two people bringing theirs together, starting new ones or tying old ones together. My husband and I both hail from the same town, and nothing means more to us than our families (we both have tattoos proving it!).  In a world where everyone dreams of far away places and where they hope to one day be stationed, our dream is to be stationed back at home. When people hear that they can't understand, stating that if we can go anywhere in the world, to travel and see new things, why would we want to go back? Because our dream is of family. Of being around ours and turning back to our roots, continuing to grow and strengthen them.

But perhaps I've been missing it all along...
The roots of an oak tree grow deep, and don't stray from the base very far. Often the root system is larger than that of it's branches. The roots secure the tree to the earth steadfastly. This has always been my picture of family, a strong bond that runs impenetrably deep and is the base of everything. While that still holds for me, perhaps my perspective needs to be more like the roots of an aspen...the roots of an aspen tree grow out from the base far, they do not sink into the ground as deeply, they grow out from it.
Perhaps it's not so much about few, deep roots, as it is about 'branching' those roots out, able to settle in more varied places, able to move with more ease.
We've been married for a couple of years now, and the talk of children and expanding our family is becoming commonplace. It's a good time to think about our roots, where we came from, where we are going. Whether we want to be like the oak tree, which is native to a smaller area of land, or the aspen, which is much more adaptable.

At the end of the day, I am incredibly fortunate to spend my life beside a remarkable man, one whose roots and passion for family runs as deep as mine.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15: 5