Recently I’ve been part of a group—sponsored by our local Christian radio station—on a 3-month fitness journey. I have less than a week left and looking back, I’ve seen a lot of similarities between this journey and that of a military family.
1) The beginning is always exciting…
…but it takes perseverance to stay the course. My fitness journey began with great expectations and lots of energy, just like the beginning of my family’s military journey when my son enlisted. But the new wears off, and even though we know we’re toiling for something good, it’s a process filled with highs and lows.
2) The unexpected always happens.
During this 3-month time I had to deal with changing circumstances. I thought I had chosen a time that was relatively stress-free and built in some safe-guards to help me succeed. But it’s just not possible to plan for every contingency. The same has been true for our journey with a son in the military. We make plans, build in safety nets and plan for everything we can think of. But still the unexpected appears.
3) Community is key.
Going on this fitness journey with a group has been a key part of my success. We’ve prayed for each other, challenged each other and even engaged in some friendly competition. Knowing that I would be missed has kept me moving forward more than once. Military families have that same support—if we take advantage of it. God is always there to walk through life with us, but there are also people who will be our teammates if we let them.
4) There’s at least one crossroad.
Mine came just last week. I injured my knee and had to readjust my mental expectations. My family was great. They stood with me and helped me see that I did have options beyond throwing in the towel. With their support, I’ve chosen to treat this as a detour, not an excuse to quit. Our son’s time in the military had a couple of crossroads. As his family, we could stand with him and provide encouragement to continue, but he had to make the decision. Now I see that our support was an active part of his being able to continue despite changing and challenging circumstances.
5) The finish line doesn’t always look like we expect.
I won’t be running to victory next weekend like I expected. Instead, I’ll be walking. But the truth is, I’m going to cross the finish line. Military families need to learn to savor the wins, even if they don’t look the way we thought they would.
I’m ending this journey at a better place than where I began. The same has been true for us as a military family. We’ve faced challenges and victories together, and we’re all stronger because of it.