Good-byes are sometimes harder than you think they’ll be. But a simple “Hello” is not as challenging as it appears.
On Wednesday, my parents, brother, and sister all saw me off to my next chapter in life: Calvin College. I didn’t cry – at first. But walking away from the only life I’d ever known… it was a lot tougher than I thought it’d be. I made it about six feet before turning around and running back into my Daddy’s arms again. The moment was priceless.
My mind raced. I kept thinking that “I don’t have to do this, I can go home.”
But I stayed. And I’m glad I did.
I expected my orientation group – Number 39 – to be awkward. My leader, Gerrit, appeared to be like any other orientation leader: full of cheesy games and unrealistic enthusiasm. What I found was quite different. What at first seemed forced and uncomfortable, soon became relaxed and genuine. I learned names, hobbies, majors, and hidden talents… There was a sense of belonging, even on the first day. Everyone participated.
We even became notorious for our obnoxious chanting:
Let’s go, thirty-nine!
While the first day was mostly fun stuff, Thursday brought out a more serious side of the group. When I first heard that part of orientation was completing a Service-Learning project, excitement filled me! I hoped and imagined doing something amazing – teaching underprivileged kids to read, helping young pregnant women, feeding the homeless.
But when Gerrit told us that we’d be helping organize stuff at the Salvation army? I had to battle major disappointment.
Through God’s mercy, the day wasn’t a total disaster… I didn’t feel unhappy or like I was useless there. I didn’t sit in the corner and pout for the rest of the day. I just asked for God to bless our work and our day.
And it didn’t feel like work to me. I didn’t do anything but play a game of Tetris with office furniture. But I was blessed by it. I spent hours talking and goofing around and just bonding with the people in my group. I was blessed with friendship and teamwork and a group whose insight and love could not have been replaced.
On day one, I never could’ve imagined that I would need these people in my life. But I do. I need every single one, because for this time, they are my blessing. Our spirits are marvelously intertwined by a common love, goal, and joy.
I may not understand a lot of things, but I understand this:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7*
“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
*all verses in NLT