Monday, September 2, 2013

Move-In Eve: Two Years Later.

‘The new Impact 360 class is moving in tomorrow.’

I had to stand in the middle of my room, letting the thought scroll through my head. Pause long enough to stand still and really think about it. It was so hard to wrap my mind around that I decided to say it out loud, hoping maybe hearing the words would help them make a little bit more sense.

“The new Impact 360 class is moving in tomorrow.”

I cocked my head to the side and rolled the words around in my mouth, the taste strange and a little bit foreign. Maybe a tad slower?

“The new Impact 360 class is moving in. To Impact. tomorrow.”

The words echoed and seemed to grow in volume as they bounced around the very undecorated walls of a stereo-typical, cookie cutter, white walled college dorm room. I sighed and sat down in the roommates chair, head in my hands. None of this was helping. I could hear laughter out in the hall, and out the window two people walked by, hand in hand silhouettes. Life carried on and the minutes ticked by and no one else seemed to realize that I was in the middle of an emotional, mental, spiritual crisis.


One year this same thing had happened…a handful of strangers had walked into the doorway of my Eden, and crushed our memories into the foundational gravel they needed to make their own. They’d stepped hesitatingly into the great unknown, completely unaware that we had already walked there and left our marks on benches and our initials carved into the dark corners of trees that boasted whispered secrets you’d had to crouch to hear. They’d moved through rooms and not noticed the smiles, moments and memories, hands held in secrets that the walls had soaked in and held quiet. They’d put head to pillows, night after night, blissfully ignorant of the year worth of tears that same soft lump had soaked up mere months ago.

And I hadn’t remembered until I saw the Instagram of their first hall meeting late that night.

Call it crazy, call it selfish, because when strangers move into your home shouldn’t you realize it? But I didn’t. I’d kept moving because it was hard enough putting one foot in front of another in this new path in South Carolina, without thinking about the fact that I COULDN’T go back. I’d focused on the promise that the sun would rise in the morning and set at night, and when I got through that day I put my head on the pillow and prayed the same thing would happen the next. By the time I had a whole slew of days behind me, having a new little family to partly call mine seemed almost natural…the fact that they had taken home & made it theirs seemed like something to celebrate, not mourn! Visiting meant open arms and curious smiles, new friends to be made, new stories to hear, new lives to be explored.

But this year it’s a little bit different, and as my head leaned on roommate’s desk I was unable to escape the fact that I’d finally come face to face with the difference. My eyes scanned a college dorm room that was not mine no matter how hard I tried to make it so or how many times I tried to pretend that it was, and at the same time my heart cried deep in my chest that this wasn’t home, and could we please, please go back to what was?

Because after a year and a half of walking through life, I’m tired of not belonging. I’m tired of stretching so far from sanctuary. I’m tired of life continuing with no way for me to slow it down or make it stop, and I’m tired of relationships that stretch to their breaking point only to snap back just in time to make you smile and cry all at the same time. I’m tired of my heart being broken into different pieces and never feeling like they’ll all be in the same place again.

I’m sad that I walked out of Eden, and was too stubborn to even turn around to watch the gates shut behind me.

But how do you explain that to a bouncing, bubbling class of freshmen that have their whole lives ahead of them?

“Um, excuse me, but what you don’t know is this is mine?” “You’ll never be able to appreciate this quite as much as I did?” “Life is moving slowly and things aren’t working out like I planned, so please take your happiness and make memories elsewhere because I’m going to try and crawl my way back to the last time I fully felt at home?”

You can’t.

You can’t tell the littles to hug their families hard, because no matter how many times you refuse to admit it, in about a month Momma’s smile and Daddy’s arms are going to feel like the oasis in the desert you’re too far away from. You can’t tell them not to rush into pretending that they love their roommates when they’re really not sure, because pretending doesn’t help anything and walking through the fire with someone you don’t trust only means more walls when you need less. You can’t tell them not to rush to May, because running means you fall easier and once you cross the finish line there’s no way to take back all the nights you should have walked away from or relive the days you should have been a little more open minded about. You can’t tell them to put down the telephone and pick up the Bible, and no sweetie I know he seems like the best thing but I promise Jesus is better.

And somewhere in the midst of all this crazy heart knot, I find half of me wanting to help them and half of me wanting to be them.

I didn’t want to be the last class….I wanted to run away from memories and pain and hurt and futures that said not right now and whispered maybe not ever. And now in the midst of white walls and open roads, I’m beginning to realize that the future is a lot scarier than I ever thought it would be, and who did I think I was kidding when I said coming back didn’t scare me?

I want to relive it…and I’ve never understood the people who said they would relive it differently. I could stand up and preach change and pretend regret, but the truth is if I went back in one way or another I’d make the same mistakes all over again. Because no matter how much I try to keep it at an arms length, my heart wants community the same way it did 2 years ago. It wants a smiling face and flannel clad arms and late nights when the rest of the world faded and for the first time in my life I belonged to someone and something I could come home to. It wants rest and peace and the quiet of an untouched garden, because no matter how much the garden is temporary, staying is security and leaving is NOT.

And coming boldly before an all gracious yet all powerful Savior is something I have yet to learn how to do.

And I think the balance here is somehow realizing how to set contentment in the God who created Eden, not the people who reflected Him within it. But I haven’t learned how to do that yet, and it’s something He’s teaching that my heart doesn’t want to learn all the time. Because no matter how excited I get thinking about new depths and new heights, I’ve trod the old ones and know all the potholes. I know the stumbling blocks to avoid and the places where the path walks easy. I know when the rocks rip through tender, bare souled feet, and where the grass soothes in a cool breeze. I know the path. I’m comfortable because I know it well enough not to need somebody to walk alongside me and tell me when to duck, when to step over the puddles, and which berries are poisonous and which taste like summer.

And somewhere in the midst of comfort is a God that calls me out of it in His infinite goodness and I’m not ready for that and He knows it. And I think in a lot of ways He laughs just a little bit, because the thought of me realizing I need Him is delightful, and the thought of His growing girl grabbing His hand because she’s still scared of thunder storms is exciting, and the idea of a “big” girl realizing she really DOES always need her Daddy is something He’s been waiting for me to realize for a very, very, very long time. 

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