Going Against the Flow

To fulfill the obligations required of Scott’s position, the ranking NCO, we set about attending the customary social functions as a couple, and I started doing the obligatory duties of the politically correct military wife. The Joint Service Advisory Group operated under the direction and purview of the State Department, making the amount of dinners, teas, parties, and ceremonies demanding. The NCO Wives Club elected me their president. Enjoying social acceptance for the first time in my adult life, I relished the experience of leadership. The ongoing exposure to high-ranking general officers, and their wives, provided me with a welcomed boost of self-confidence.

As I continued in my role as president of the wives club, we also fulfilled the other social requirements. During the Christmas holidays, we were embroiled in a whirlwind of social activity that included status seeking, fancy dress, excessive drinking, and party filled afternoons, evenings, and nights. Unfortunately, there were no family activities or activities for our children. Our family life suffered. We spent no quality time with our children at all, even during the Christmas season.

Most military families had full-time maids and houseboys. However, we made an intentional choice: not to fall into that artificial life-style. We didn’t want to pretend we were wealthy, then return to the United States blindsided by reality. We had a genuine desire to live within the parameters of what we knew, at that time, to be pleasing to God. Military life slowly sucked us into a lifestyle that left us feeling out of control, and without substance.

We sat down shortly after the New Year to take an inventory of our core beliefs, and re-evaluate our choices. When we did this, we discovered that we had attended twelve Christmas functions in only eight days, and we were shocked and disgusted by how quickly and easily we had fallen into the military “party-time” trap in a few short months.

Even though we knew there would be repercussions, we took a stance and in our usual non-conformist way said, “No more … this is not the way we want to live.” We more or less thumbed our noses at the social norms of the military establishment in the 70s. We felt no regret or fear –  just freedom to live in our own simple, but comfortable and reliable way. The result? We had no friends anymore—none, period. There was one couple from Scott’s office we established a friendship with later on, which was problematic, because we were enlisted folks fraternizing with an officer and his wife.

We made one noteworthy and significant exception. As Scott worked alongside the Korean men at Yong Dong Po (his office across the Han River from where we lived), at the DMZ (the demilitarized zone between the North and South), and at Taegu (an air force base south of Seoul), he became more than an adviser. He was a close friend, involved in a joint mission, to stabilize their homeland. We enjoyed attending the few social functions that included his Korean counterparts as a sincere showing of friendship and camaraderie.

I resigned as president of the NCO Wives Club. This was abrupt, because it was midterm, and caused slight reverberations throughout the community. The commanding general’s wife got wind of it, and called me to come for afternoon tea so that “we could discuss the situation.” Over tea and petit fours, I explained to her that we had come to the realization that the current lifestyle we had been living, was not conducive to giving our children the best of what we had to offer. Therefore, we had made a lifestyle choice to back off. One of those choices was for me to refrain from attending NCO Wives Club functions, and therefore, resign as president. She was kind and respectful of my decision. She understood that I had simply chosen a different path for my life.

By this time, we had been in Korea over a year. I had tried the prevailing life-style, suffered a certain amount of guilt as a result, and then made a choice to turn away from what I instinctively knew wasn’t a comfortable place for me. To be stuck on a wide and fickle path that meandered back and forth in step with worldliness, instead of on a direct and narrow path, leading straight to Christ was not where I wanted to go. Therefore, I made a conscious decision to revisit the expectations of my conversion experience.


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