Today is January 11th. That marks one year since I left for my DTS. As I reflect on the last year, I can hardly believe how different everything is. God has revolutionized my relationship with Him, my relationships with others, and completely redefined me as a person. I don’t feel like this last year has simply been part of a new season in my life. I feel like it was the beginning. Like everything that happened before prepared me for this year so I could actually start my real life.
One year ago, I woke up before 6 AM on a Tuesday morning in an unfamiliar house. I opened my eyes on an unfamiliar room, got out of my unfamiliar bed, and got in the shower. I complained to myself about the water pressure and temperature. I was unimpressed, but I guess it made me a little bit more ok with getting away from that house. I’m sure I looked at myself in the mirror that morning and just stared for a minute, thinking I must be at least a little crazy. I didn’t even know who was picking me up when I got off this plane. I had no idea what it was like to be away from my family for so long. “Whatever,” I thought to myself, “no turning back now. Today is the day I leave. I can’t change that.” So I got dressed, put on my old darker pair of Quicksilver jeans, threw on my big striped hoodie and new windbreaker so I could fit everything on the plane, grabbed my suitcase, my pillow, and my guitar and walked out. I didn’t have any goodbyes to say to the house. There was no point. I had no affiliation with it anyway. It was my parents home, not mine. My home was anywhere else but there. Moving at 17 for the first time in over ten years, I didn’t know how to deal with it so I ignored it. I got in the car. Everyone was there with me. I think I fell asleep. I was tired because I was up late the night before.
We arrive at LAX and park the car. What an ordeal. 11 people flop out of our 15 passenger van and it starts to become real. I’m about to leave. I won’t see my family for six months. Do I even understand how long that is? My suitcase is heavy. The handle is kind of broken, it doesn’t roll quite right. What am I doing? Who knows? But I can’t turn back now. So we walk to the airport, mom finds someone who works there and tries to see if they can come with me to the gate since I’m a minor traveling alone. The answer is no. Just like we expected. Airport security is severe these days. I wonder if they’ll put me in the crazy cancer inducing scanners. Should I try to stop them? Should I mention the cancer stuff I read about last week? I don’t know. I have too many other things on my mind. We walk and get my bag checked. And then the moment arrives. It’s time to say goodbye. Really? This fast? Where did the time go? Can’t we have a few more minutes. I have so many things to say, but nothing comes. I start hugging people. Starting with the older guys. My older brother, my younger brother, and then going down. Younger and younger, the sadness more severe with each one as we all realize the gravity of the situation. We’re all tearing up now but I don’t want to because I figured I wouldn’t. I don’t cry. Why would I cry for this? I go to hug my dad, it’s a good solid man hug. He says something encouraging that I won’t remember because I’m so frazzled. Then mom. She’s crying. She’s crying a lot. She understands how long six months is. She realizes I’m the first one to leave home. She’s probably wondering if she’s made the right decision to say I could go. The hug is over. Through the tears she tells me she loves me. Then its time for the last one. I go to hug my girlfriend. She’s crying a lot too. I don’t want to cry but I kind of am already. As I hold her for longer than the others, I flash back to all the moments we’ve had together. I have to let go now. I have to walk away.
I walk away. I take my stuff. I fumble through security. I make a bunch of mistakes but I make it through fine. I turn around and I see my family for the last time. I give a weak wave and everything hits me. What am I doing? Who’s picking me up when I land? I don’t know. I don’t know. Let’s do this. “Jesus, help me…”
(This whole narrative ordeal is continued here)
That was a long time ago. At the end of all this, all I can say is that I love Jesus. I really, sincerely do. I’ve had bunches of lectures, learned more than I can explain. I’ve had more worship time, more community outreach and service, and made more friends that I ever thought I would. I finally got out of North America and made it to the land of my heritage. I’ve done so much this year. So much has happened. But none of it matters when its put in perspective with my relationship with Jesus. I know Him. I don’t just know about Him. I love Him. Not some person that other people have told me about. I love the Jesus that He has revealed Himself to be to me personally. Life is good. Life is beyond good. God is beyond good. He’s God.