Military Brat. The title given to me the moment I showed success in every school I went to. I don’t even want to count how many there were. I don’t know why girls looked at me as a threat. I wasn’t going to be around long enough to steal their boyfriends, their top spot in the class rankings, or their precious teacher’s pet status.
I guess I did try to be the best at everything. Somehow I thought, through all the transfers, I could leave my mark. Would people remember me long after I moved away?
Determined to not “marry military” like The Colonel hoped I would, I fell in love with the preacher’s son.
Friends weren’t easy to come by. Anytime I became close to anyone, Daddy would be transferred. Oh, there were the promises of pen-pals that lasted six months or so. I figured it was something to tie them over until they found a new best friend.
When I fell in love with Joseph, he was the new kid, too. His father had worked his way out of the small potatoes of pastoring in obscure locations and hit the big time when he landed himself a city church right next to the military base.
Joseph was two grades ahead of me, homeschooled, and friendless. We were a perfect match. I could slip in and out of my daily school routines at the big public high school and spend time at the parsonage hanging out with Joseph and his kid sister.
Half-way through my senior year, Daddy announced we were relocating…again. Joseph was pursuing his call to ministry two hours away from home. We married, I moved in with his parents, Joseph went back to school, and The Colonel moved on.
Little did I know that moving around would remain my lot in life. Joseph took churches no one else would dare move their families to. Not only communities off the beaten path, but he unknowingly, yet sometimes willingly, tackled congregations with bad histories.
Over the years, I learned to perform my expected responsibilities with a smile. I’d love on the little old ladies, encourage the young mothers, and take on whatever class needed taught. My definition of a friend was anyone that walked through the doors of our church. A close friend was one that I’d chat over coffee, share laughter, and perhaps a few relevant things from my past, but that’s all the closer I’d get. I knew better.
When Joseph accepted the parish in the mountains, I was excited. We loved to hike and explore the lush forested hills. Never did I expect to feel the lonely isolation and darkness that wrapped its unwelcome cloak around me. I knew not to make friends with anyone local, especially women from other congregations. That’s when I met shy, unassuming Cassandra, from the other church.
Something clicked between us. We could hardly go half-a-day without communicating and we were the brunt of endless teasing because of our texting habits. We looked for opportunities to be together and our love grew deep and strong the way God intended girlfriends to be. In all her years living in the isolated mountain town, Cassandra ached for intimate friendship and didn’t even realize it.
That mountain church was rough on my pastor-husband. Daddy said Joseph should receive a Purple Heart in ministry. He truly believed physical illness and emotional wounds while fighting in the spiritual battlefields deserved a medal. When it became obvious the time would come when we would eventually pack up and move yet again, I noticed my mood turned cool towards Cassandra. I kicked myself for giving her my deep friendship.
Despite my twisted thoughts, something strange started to happen. The closer we came to the inevitable move-out day, the tighter our bond became. I realized I had unearthed a beautiful gem in the rough, a buried treasure, and I knew I couldn’t let go.
I burrowed my face into Cassandra’s shoulder, letting my tears soak her sweatshirt. There was no way I could pack up and say: Have a nice life. Nope…not this time.
“I love my mountain treasure,” I managed to mumble into her hair.
Normally I feel empty and hollow when we move out, but this time I heard God whisper a special message. I blessed you when you came in and I will bless you when you go out…with treasure.
Cassandra will remember me long after I move away. Of this I’m sure.
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