It’s the end of the second week of the adventure. January is a good time to attempt the new and the slightly scary. For me, this looks like five weeks of study and dorm life, over three hours away from the place I know as home. It was time for change, an escape of sorts, and new perspectives.
Earlier today I video chatted with the little person I care for back in my normal life. She was munching a piece of bread, and it’s a universe away. In some ways, it does feel like a different life. Do I miss her? Of course.
I’m here among strangers, so many strangers. But the crazy thing is, there are quite a few of them that aren’t strangers anymore. It’s actually incredible how comfortable this space is and how many stories are being shared. And for a short span of time this winter, many stories overlap in this one place.
What am I going to take away from here, when I go back to my mountains in February? When I go back to spending my days with a four year old? When I’m back in the bakery with sixty-five loaves of bread on order? When I’m cleaning motel rooms or folding white towels in thirds and thirds again? When I return to my little kitchen, making random cakes that I end up eating way too much of? What pieces of these weeks are going to go with me?
Who am I? Because I’m me at home, and yet, I’m still me here. But then, who is me? Who am I apart from work? Who am I after severed relationships, relationships that helped to define me during so much of my life? Who am I when life is completely not normal? Is it possible to have an ongoing search for identity, an ongoing search for belonging?
There’s the me that painted a picture on Christmas Eve, despite the fact that I am not an artist. There’s the me that drove to Ohio to spend a couple days with my aunt. There’s the me that packed up my coffee mug and some clothes and my stuffed pumpkin spice latte and came to this place for the first time. But then there’s also the me that was sick in bed and missed all of my classes on Wednesday. There’s the me that has taken anxiety medication twice this week to make sure I got some good sleep. There’s the me that doesn’t trust God with my dreams and the me that is cynical, the me that struggles with forgiveness. There’s still the me that can’t sing and the me who refuses to play volleyball.
I want to take home with me: the knowledge, deep in my heart, that I am loved. What does it actually look like, in a practical sense, to live in the love of Jesus? What does it look like to live abundantly, rather than in survival?
I want to take home with me: new friendships. While I will confess to being a little homesick (already!), there’s another part of me that doesn’t like the idea of leaving this fellowship of people. There’s something pretty incredible about being surrounded by an atmosphere of encouragement, education, and yes, a little bit of humor.
I want to take home with me: a determination to continue to grow. I don’t know what this looks like-yet, but this daily intake of intellect is good. Overwhelming? Yes. But good? Also yes. However, my tendency is to not make learning a priority outside the structure of school. There are always excuses- too tired, too busy… you know.
I was hoping for clarity of purpose. But maybe, for the moment, I shouldn’t think too hard about that. Maybe? Maybe for the next three weeks I can just be. Just be and absorb and try to trust. And when God is ready, He’ll show me the next step. Because He is good, and He does love me. As someone told me last week, instead of trying so hard to get out of the valley, I can invite God to walk with me in it. He does, and He will.