The second we resign our ID card, we resign our identity
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46–50)
Ask either of my boys where they are from and the answer will be, “Nowhere.” I know this because I posed the question to each of them. I also asked them if they resented the day they had to turn in their military ID card after they reached the age of ineligibility. My guilt was assuaged when they both answered, “No.”
As I spent time on a Military BRAT web forum I learned that many adults who grew up in a military family struggle with a sense of belonging well after they relinquish their ID. One woman wrote of her experience, “We no longer carry a Military ID, and we are no longer welcomed on a military installation. In fact, the military does not even recognize our existence. They have taken our privileges, and we are left to ourselves to adapt to a foreign, civilian world. The second we resign our ID card, we resign our identity.”1
When Jesus asked the question, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” he was not denying his relationship with his family. Rather, he pointed out that from an eternal perspective his family included all of those who live for God. In a practical sense, he was showing the transition from his identity being from his family of origin to his disciples partnering with him in ministry. Jesus established a community in which believing on him as Savior means we are all “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 KJV).
As military families, we must prepare our children for the day they leave the nest. That preparation must include a thorough understanding of our confidence in their unique ability to contribute to the world. Most importantly, that preparation must include an understanding of their identity as a child of God. Their military ID card may expire, but their status as residents of God’s Kingdom will bring a sense of belonging that a military ID cannot begin to match.
In what ways are you preparing your child to leave the nest? In what ways are you teaching your child about their identity in Christ?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, I pray my child would know your great love. Help my child to grow up to experience your grace and mercy in abundance. Amen.
1 Dawn Risas, “The Lost Ones,” Military Brat Life: Celebrating Our Unique Culture. http://www.militarybratlife.com/articles/the-lost-ones.html (accessed July 7, 2015).