August 10, 2010
“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
-Donald Miller (Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road)
It’s finally time for me to go. Most of my stuff is packed into boxes and waiting to be loaded into my car. Most of my goodbyes have been said. Most of my attention is focused forward. Most of my heart is already in Athens.
Packing wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. My debit card would beg to differ and my bank account has lost its will to beg for anything, but I’ve bought everything I need and managed to pick out a reasonably selective wardrobe to take with me. I guess practice really does make perfect and all the packing I’ve done this year has prepared me well for this week. I will certainly miss the sanctuary that my bedroom has become and I will miss the pictures that hang from every available surface and the notes from friends that blanket my wall and the awards and memorabilia that clutter my bookshelves, but I am certain that it won’t take long for my dorm room to feel like home and I’m sure I will be quick to seek out a new safe haven somewhere on campus. I have said goodbye to the adults who have guided me through life and gotten me this far, to my coaches, my directors, my youth leaders, my teachers. I’ve bid farewell to my high school friends and my church friends and my neighbors, promising to keep in touch with each. I have begun the exciting process of filling in my calendar with classes, activities, and social events for the next few months and taken the steps to get involved with several different groups and organizations. I have met my roommate and started forming friendships with other students who will be making their first move this week as well.
That’s most of me. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t parts of me holding on, parts of me longing to stay, parts of me that freeze up in the wake of moving away from everything I’ve ever know, from the life that took 18 years to piece together. I just barely found my role in this place right in time to move out. Better late than never, though.
Some of my stuff is still piled in the corner and hidden under my bed. Some of my goodbyes are still being put off-the most important ones. Some of my attention is still caught in the rearview mirror, lost in memories of the past, both good and bad. Some of my heart will never let go completely because home is where the heart is and this was my first home. And I think that’s okay.
I have one more day to dwell here and enjoy a few precious moments with my best friend and my boyfriend and one more day to drive on these roads that took me years to navigate. One more day to sit on my roof and wrap myself in the comfort of the familiar.
Come Wednesday, it’s time to leave. It’s time to start over in my new town. Get lost on new roads. Venture across my new campus. Make new friends. Audition for new groups. Form new routines. Find a new roof to sit on. Develop a new role in the community.
I know it’s gonna be hard and I know I’m gonna feel lost and small for a while, but I know that I will find my place. And I know the road that leads back home and I know that even though I might change, everything will still be here, waiting for me, when I come back.
And I know that I am never alone.
“If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the furthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me” -Psalm 139:9-10