Everything I said in the previous blog stands true. Wow. It was emotional, messy, fun, exciting, wild, tiring, rewarding, challenging, hard…it was a really special trip. Some of those days I did not think positive thoughts because negativity is always easier to fall back on. Takes less emotional strength and so sometimes I fell back on regrets or sadness. But I have to get back up, rearrange my heart and move forward. This trip helped move me forward. Not in all senses but at least in some.
Reuniting with my friends was exactly what I had hoped, and way more. Whether it was hearing Grace scream when she saw me, Amy tackling me, or people on the Cougar walk jumping out of their chairs to greet me. Paul’s expression because he did not realize I would be at his door. To express my gratitude and how special I felt could never, ever be given justice through this blog. But seriously…text after text, calls, voicemails, meeting me on campus, squeezing in time to see me—real and genuine efforts to see me was beyond beautiful and lovely. Especially because most of my time with friends was authentic—sitting outside, staring at each other, pouring and pouring and pouring. No time to be fake—let’s jump to the heart and meat of life. It is not that I had the most ideal friendship situation at all times at apu—clearly not, because my community at jmu is what I need. But what makes my friendships exceedingly special about apu is because they know I was deeply hurt, my shit was out for all to see, and I had to leave. They do not judge me for that, but welcome me and long for a different situation. They craved to know the well-being of my soul. They were selfless and wanted to hear about the success of my experience at jmu. Ugh, really…how did I get so lucky? And I did not even get to spend time with everyone I wanted to see. Breaks my heart. (but only after like twelve hours of non-stop talking do you realize you may be a little burnt out—introverts where ya AT?)
My trip to apu made me feel extremely rich in friendship.
However, I am not going to lie. Spiritually, apu can be a strange place. I had difficult conversations where my friend cried to me in the most honest and vulnerable way explaining how she missed God. I had another friend tell me he wishes he even knew Jesus still. Was I discouraged? Upset? Surprisingly, I was not at all. Because my friends looked me dead in the eye and told me their reality of being at apu. Anyone that can finish four years at apu has more strength than I do. With those two friends I got to stare at them and tell them they do not have to do anything—their Lover will come find them. (He already is).
At the same time I had friends explain victory after victory of what the Lord is doing, how they are maturing in painful and incredible ways, and how Jesus is more real to them than ever. I loved both realities because we are all in this messy, shitty, surreal, lovely life and cannot escape but can only go deeper into humanity and spirituality.
I wish I could explain in detail my heart behind all of my time with my friends (letzgo journal…cannot wait!) but I think sometimes I want and need to keep intimate, personal, complicated experiences for myself. But just know—there is so much more.
Last night I was texting my housemate from jmu. I was explaining how my heart is in a million different places and almost feels shattered because of how deeply I long to be with everyone at the same time. How sometimes I feel like I did not have the strength to finish at apu. She responded, “You were always meant to graduate from jmu. You are just too special for one place.” I can honestly say I do not know if words ever hit me so hard. A simple TEXT made me feel and think thousands of things at once. Maybe it is because she does not realize how ridiculously I reacted to circumstances at apu (and I say this because she is in a harder position than me and is so brave. Ugh, wish I could tell y’all). But either way, that text put my life into perspective a little, for I was able to recognize the sovereignty of my Guide and how I promised Him and myself I would trust Him so I am going to do so.
So what if my heart is all over? That I cry as I take off on the runway for Pennsylvania? That I have to watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because I already miss driving those streets with Nina? That I need selfish prayers? I am going to love until it hurts because guess what? It really does hurt. It hurts to look at certain people and tell them goodbye…again. It hurts because I would rather spend most of my days alongside them. Can you imagine when jesus had to ascend? Like, OK c-y’all, those that I just died for? But he knew greater things were coming because of the active and alive spirit so I must let the spirit work.
I am growing to appreciate the diversity of my life and the boldness of the spirit in me to take care of me. I had anxiety, sadness, tears all being in California. That is extremely true, but that is all extremely okay.
**Now I am in my home in Philadelphia, PA. Completely silent, sitting in my kitchen finishing this blog. Dang, this is not easy.
I was not prepared for how hard it was going to be to leave Nina. The only thing giving me hope is the possibility of us becoming roommates a little over a year from now. Who knows? Maybe? But really...this week was a little taste of what we always have known and what is natural. For sisters to live alongside each other and walk through life. the sometimes annoying and mundane errands such as Ikea, the bank, her old apartment, grocery store. I miss it all (it's been less than 24 hours) and I want it again. I want my sister and her presence and her comfort and love. I am hesitant to even continue writing because it is very emotional for me and this silence is killing me. But I want to be in tune with my emotions. So here it is: I want to be with my best friend. Still. I want to be back. I did not want to leave. But maybe this is just a way for all three of us to be together. More preparation for the day my sisters and I can all live together.
I cannot believe I am sitting on an airplane, drinking “Café Mystique US Airways” coffee (that is seriously what it says on the Styrofoam cup), 43,000 miles up in the air, only an hour away from Los Angeles International Airport. The last day has been a blur—minimal sleep, excess amounts of coffee, and sweat outbreaks because of two midterms I had to take. Afterwards, I quickly did laundry, had three friends visit, and then Colleen and I were off to Washington DC. Laying my head on the pillow at 11:30 and waking up at 3:45 to begin a wild journey.
Flying standby is stressful and there is no other way to put it. No seats available, no flight for Rebecca. I wish I could explain how many flights I was considering to take to do this story justice, but long story short, at 3:45AM there were 0 seats available for my second flight. 0. Zero. Zehaa-raw. I had intended to try for another flight to make another connection and eventually end up in CA, but when I checked in my luggage, the lady said “Both flights look good so I won’t stamp your bag as standby.” Huh? Both flights look good? Really, because about 40 minutes ago there were no seats left.
I hop off my first flight, RUN to terminal B (seriously, if you ever are on those moving escalator side-walk thingers, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY for people who actually need this speed enhanced machine!) and after the not-so-nice employee @ Special Services says, “can’t do anything to help you,” I sit down feeling extremely defeated. Tears start welling because I cry when I am stressed. Sorry ‘bout it.
I check online and 14 seats show up. Fourteen?? How? What? Okay, I’ll take it! With my dad’s seniority, I then had a boarding pass gratefully stuck in between my palms. God is mysterious and I doubt. I doubt a lot and do not give him credit. “He definitely does not care about my flight drama. People are dying.” Maybe that is the case, because I would like to think he is taking care and performing miracles, but either way this was my mini-miracle. A small celebration. A moment of gratitude.
I am listening to Matt Wertz because he reminds me of Young Life camp, which is probably the safest place my mind can ever wander when I am feeling uneasy, unsure, and a little fearful. Why am I “afraid” to go to California? Well, I am not afraid of spending time with my best friend, my soul mate, my older sister. Wow, what joy will that bring the both of us. Anyone have a sister? Sibling maybe? Do you have a connection with them? Because if so you totally know the feeling I mean when you desperately crave to unite with that person who compliments you, frustrates you, and loves you without doing a single thing. No performance necessary, only genuine enjoyment of each other’s company. I need that a lot in my life (hence why I am always homesick for my sisters). The presence of my sisters is also one of the safest places I can ever go. They are probably the only two places I can go. (oh, and mom). Spending time with Nina is a continual pouring in and out relationship, where we both are energized by each other, yet are honest and our complete selves.
But besides spending time with her, it is the first time I am visiting APU since I have transferred…and I don’t know if this is irrational of me or not, but I am nervous. APU is a place of the highest peaks in my life and the lowest lows. It is where I contracted swine flu on the day my aunt died back east, it is where I was given the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, it is where I entered into my first serious relationship, it is where I first led Young Life, it is where I academically explored the bible in class, it is where I discovered my innate passion for fighting against injustice and inequality by becoming a Sociology major. It is where I freely raised my arms in worship without fear of being judged, it is where I found out Dominic had committed suicide, it is where I had run wild in Disneyland, feeling like a seven year old again. It is where staff and professors recognized me, it is where I first tried counseling, it is where I really explored my passionate soul, and it is where I had my heart broken. APU, you gave me opportunities. LOTS of them. Up and down ones to say the least.
But I salute you, APU, because although at times (most of the time), when I did not know how to fight the battles, you pushed me…you pushed me to wrestle with my Father, with my friends, boyfriend, myself. You pushed me…too hard, I admit. And graciously I was removed and gently put in one of the most fruitful, beautiful seasons in my life. But I would be a fool to say I don’t think about APU everyday or that it wasn’t my reality for the past two years. Without APU, I would not be where I am today, which is exactly where I want to be. Wow I am giddy writing that because I am finally at a place where healing has happened and I can look at APU with tender, forgiving, and admirable eyes. And I am not stuck, immobile, or trapped. I am free as can be in my heart, identity, and even geographical location. I can take APU with the beautiful things it offers and look at those dark moments with the knowledge it is okay. It was not always dark. Run after the light and affectionate moments.
Circumstance does not define me, but only contributes to my growth and experience. APU and JMU do not define me, but brutally and gently throw opportunities, relationships, and experiences at me. I have taken the hard punch, handled it pretty poorly, but also have jumped up and down and danced around with joy. So this break, I will reconnect with the saving graces of my APU experience…I write on this blog to publicly (except it is kind of private by the amount of my readers:) declare I will say sorry to those I have hurt or felt abandoned by me suddenly transferring. And I will rejoice, and explode with giddiness and appreciation for those who know me so well and have seen me too little.
Now I can’t say I won’t be emotional or even have a breakdown. I want the freedom to feel my emotions to the twentieth degree and not be ashamed but acknowledge hard parts but also the sweet parts. I can say, though, that I will walk in full confidence and assurance of where my Love is guiding me, taking me, and has taken me thus far. For that, I am forever thankful.
Wednesday, while I was working at the library, I had bursts of anxiety, confusion, and fear for going to California. “What am I thinking? Why would I want to put myself in a stressful situation (flying), chaotic week of moving around, and emotional situations where memories will flood?”
Then He answered me, very clearly and very gently. He said “Why wouldn’t you? Why would you choose comfort when you so, personally know the value of taking risks? Why would you not trust me?”
Why would I not go to California? Why would I not put myself in the most emotional situations? Is that not what life is about? To feel, to feel to the point of crying in the best and worst sense. To explore, engage, remember, reflect, pray, and praise. I want that at all times. Whether I am flying across the country to California, at Spotswood high school in Virginia, or nuzzled in my cozy room in Pennsylvania. I want to explore, engage, remember, reflect, pray, and praise for all of the days of my life. I am starting now.