Set Apart – by Katie Engebretsen

July 9, 2015

Handling the Life We DON’T Feel Called To

This past May marked the 7th anniversary of my husband becoming a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. It’s July now, so I round up. I tell people we’ve been “in” 8 years. Yet even with my mathematically unsound rounding, the 12 (*13*) years that remain still seem monumental.

Our underlying conversation for the past year and a half has been whether or not we should commit to making the Air Force a career. We’re at an important tipping point. We can cut our ties or we can accrue time owed by going for another professional degree.

Copyright Emma Jane Hogbin Westby, "Boxes" Flickr https://goo.gl/76Q6Yv https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Copyright Emma Jane Hogbin Westby, “Boxes” Flickr https://goo.gl/76Q6Yv https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I never planned to marry a military man. I had no interest in the chaotic life it promised. Even after our first move down to Oklahoma, my dad assured me that most junior officers do their time as payment for their college degree and move on.

But life changed. Two years into his service, opportunities arose for Colin. Dream opportunities. We prayerfully considered them and we, well, we were more than happy to leave OKC in the red dirt dust. And we’re faced with similar opportunities today.

We’re faced with fear too. Each move I have lamented the life I’ve left behind. The hard-earned friendships, the time put into a church, the familiarity with street names and fastest route to Target. I have cried out It’s too hard! I was not made for this kind of life!

I insisted that there was no proof that God called us to be here. God didn’t bring us to Colorado – the Air Force did. What if God wants us there? Or that other place? It’s a tricky thing trying to determine what God is asking of you. Especially when everything feels wrong. Especially when you’re calling out send me and in your heart you’re saying but don’t send me there.

A few months ago I stumbled across a military spouse blogger who has published a devotional for military wives. (“Serving You: 31 Days of Encouragement for the Military Wife” by Kristen Strong). Rebel that I am, I refused to wait each day to uncover her wisdom and instead I read it all in one sitting. It challenged me to face my fears and my misconceptions. It challenged me to feel part of the sisterhood of military wives everywhere. To admit that I’m not alone. To find value in this journey.

How often I am motivated by fear! I have been afraid to continue on this journey of growth as a military spouse. What if it sets me apart? What if those people I desire to be close to never understand my journey, never understand my sacrifice? What if I can no longer relate to anyone around me? Am I destined to be the new girl forever?

Copyright Bheranadez "Stressed and Worried" Flickr https://goo.gl/dmZt2U http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Bheranadez “Stressed and Worried” Flickr https://goo.gl/dmZt2U http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

When I’m most stressed in my Air Force life, what I really want is to go home. I want to go back to the people to whom I can relate, or at least I those whom I’m used to. Rural Minnesota has its downfalls too, but the evil I know always seems preferable to the evil I don’t know.

Even as I connected with truth through the devotional, I stomped my mental feet. I don’t want to be set apart! I don’t want to be forced to grow in this way! Let me go home! Let me establish a house and a home church and a home school where we can stay put.

Yet as I heard myself and as I talked it out with friends, I kept going back to the phrase “set apart”. I’d heard that before.

Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”

Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”

Hebrews 7:26 “Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.”

God has called us to be set apart. He calls us to put off our sinful ways; He calls us to holiness in Christ. I don’t want to be set apart by my differences. But should I be? Should I want to be?

God may set me apart by encouraging me on this journey of growth that is military life. Have you felt God calling you to be set apart in the job you do? Or maybe in the choices you make for your family regarding education or finances? Like me, do you fight Him? Do you pray that he will set you apart in an easier way, maybe?

Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”


Katie Engebretsen is wife to Colin and mother to Ethan, Elise, and Liam. She is a military wife and a native Minnesotan. She has a passion for life-long learning and connecting with every person she meets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and singing in the car. Katie and her family have been attending Holy Cross Lutheran Church since 2014.

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