Because it wasn’t as simple coming back this time.
I can’t pretend to be able to explain why it’s so hard to come to a conclusion, to learn something, even with that thing we call hindsight. I’ve thought I’ve learned something profound so many times, only to learn that I hadn’t learned it all. Go figure.
I wrote approximately a year ago about “Home.” Greenville-ish, SC. The Upstate. That county with all the cities that lie along highway 29…and TR. I mentioned how much I loved it, that coming back after graduation was clear to me. I meant that. I really did. But would it surprise you if I said that it is also complicated?
(Sorry Ma) but I never cried when I left home. Not when I left for college, or even for the Marshall Islands, and not one of any times when I left for Texas. As tears ran down my face when I drove away from Dallas last weekend, I listened to the music in my car, didn’t sing along (a rare thing), put on some free black and yellow sunglasses, and asked myself over and over again: “Jessicaaaaaaaa, why are you CRYING?”
And eventually, (I think.) I knew why. I wasn’t coming back (*I think.). Those people I left I was really leaving. Hit me like a train, I say. Quickly and unforgiving. Not to minimize the people who I went to school with and knew for a year and a half, but one person in particular makes me sad, sad, sad. My now ex-roommate is a baller, shot caller. I have always thought that to know someone is to love them, and she did not disappoint. I didn’t know her before I moved in, but I had the privilege of bunking with one of the hardest working, funniest, and somehow very-under-the-radar-caring people I’ve ever met. She’ll probably be too busy saving her corner of the world to even read this, but if not (hey, girl, hey! I’m really gonna miss you.)
So what then? Well I went down the rabbit hole, of course. A fifteen hour drive will do that to anyone, especially to me. Put a couple of sermons on audio in the background and my wheels really start turning. So I thought this: yes, here there is choice! So much choice, too much choice for me to bear. I don’t want to choose. I mean I really don’t want to. I don’t want to choose between my roots and my family back in the Marshall Islands and the dozen or so non-Marshallese volunteers I worked with there…and my people in Texas…and those wonderful people I went to undergrad with in Sparkle City and the people who I still remember from childhood – neighbors, Bob Jones grade school people, that other life in high school at Blue Ridge, my Lazy Goat family, cousins in all places. I don’t want to choose between any of you. But I don’t have a choice, do I? (ha. ha.)
I’m learning something, here. I cannot have it all. I cannot love all, in the 1 Corinthians verb way. I’ve got very limited resources. I can take that and be sad, sad, sad. Or I can recall something oh so much more important. First, that Jesus is home for me. Nowhere else is sufficient. Nowhere else has all that I need. I’m passing through here, anyway, so what else would make sense? I was bound to eventually feel that desperate rending of self when self cannot be in more than one place at once. But I had to feel that, to feel fully that “home” is not here. It can never be. Location is actually almost nothing. People are a whole lot of something. But even they are dust without Jesus.
Let me wrap it up. My best friend is really great. Like other-worldly great – and I am sure that it’s Jesus in her that makes her so. Anyway, I used to be all worried inside over being able to spend proper time with her when I was home to visit, or whatnot. But we’ve been friends for so long and she’s so impossibly understanding that our friendship looks more like sermon-listening, bible-verse-sharing, naps, coffee (decaf sometimes :/), hallmark movies, and errand-running than anything else. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyway, recently it hit me that I’ve got eternity with her to walk those golden streets and laugh like we always have, so in terms of our friendship, we’ve got nothing but time. There’s really not that stress over not being able to fit a conversation in. It’s just not a true concern. I know where she’s going. I know where I’m going.
That is to say: I can’t choose everyone, here. But it’s my deep, deep, deep (!!!!!) hope that I see you there where we aren’t all running like a bunch of goobers, hamsters on a wheel. I hope you’re not doing a lot of that here, but even if you aren’t, you’re probably doing a little of it. It’s just the way of things. There’s much futility here. Just be happy that it won’t always be this way.
There is one way there. Immortality within the pearly gates (that’s a real promise) is obtained by choice, via free gift, that gift being the very sacrifice of life of the Lord Jesus Christ, the reason for your holiday cheer. If we can’t have coffee dates or share food or time or stories or burdens here, let’s not be too sorry – there’s so much time for even better things. If you choose it.