Many of us join the military because it provides a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Our oath assures we are belong to an organization that is part of an ancient and prestigious tradition that is accomplishing something good in the world. The sacrifices we make as a team and unit provide a sense of camaraderie (acceptance) that lead to a stronger bond then even some marriages experience.
But what happens when you take the uniform off at home (or retire)? Who are you apart from your uniform? Where do you go or what do you do to find that sense of belonging and acceptance. Some of us find our identity in a peer group.
If the buddies go out drinking, we go out drinking. If they are sarcastic and mean, then we pick up those same habits. Even cussing becomes a way to fit in.
Some of us find our identity in our marriages. We do anything and everything we can to make the other person happy. Chores, trips, PCS assignments, and especially time dictate the decisions we make to find acceptance through another person.
Some of us find our identity on-line. We join chat rooms and set up profiles that ensure we are made to feel welcomed and appreciated.
The problem with these efforts toward identity is they come with a cost. As long as we are pleasing the group or person we associate with, we feel a sense of belongingness and acceptance. When we grow tired of pleasing the group or person, we quickly become isolated and ignored. The pain of isolation becomes unbearable, so we willingly pay whatever cost required to keep a cheap sense of belonging and acceptance.
There is another place to find belonging and acceptance. It still requires a cost, but it is a cost that has been paid by someone else. Jesus willingly gave His life so that we could be accepted forever. He died so that we could belong to a group that is more than a passing fad.
Jesus’ actions guarantee our status as adopted children (Romans 8:15). That may sound like a step backward, but in the Roman world adoption was more significant than being a natural born child. An adopted child in that time meant you would inherit the father’s estate and could not be excluded like a natural child. It was a deliberate decision of acceptance and belonging by the father. That is what we have with our Father, the Creator of the Universe through the power and work of Jesus.
If we are children of God, then we should live differently. Our identity is secure, so we don’t have to do the same things as the others to fit in.
We don’t have to dress a certain way or say certain things to know who we are. We are children of God with a given purpose to accomplish His mission in the world. And that mission is living a life that brings glory to Him and points others to the place of true and eternal acceptance and belonging.
If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.
Author: Brendon O'Dowd, U.S. Air Force Chaplain, Lt Col (RET)
The Warrior’s Journey is an interactive online resource for military members, veterans and their families. It presents the message of faith as a path for them to find wholeness in everyday life. In cooperation with other military partnerships, foundations, and non-profits, TWJ presents a wide range of resources that cover the unique issues that they encounter in service and at home.