From late August to the first week of November, I worked for Novo Ministries, a non-profit, non-denominational group in Oklahoma City that does amazing work for the inner city kids of that city through Bible Clubs during the school year and two weeks of camp in the summer. I graduated from high school in July, and headed down there less than two months later, leaving behind friends, family, school (yes!), and everything I had known. Without knowing it or thinking about it, I was taking the advice of Donald Miller, one of my favorite authors. In one of his books, Through Painted Deserts, he talks about the trip he took across the country, away from everything and everybody he had known. In the preface, this is what he says:
"It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."
This summer, I found God, in a way I had never experienced before. And God wanted me to go to Oklahoma. I went, and saw God some more, and got to know some really amazing people and really needy kids, and made some mistakes, too. Because of those mistakes, I am back here. And it's true, what Donald Miller says, that I am changed, and everything else has stayed mostly the same. Everything is still here. I am different. Nobody really understands what was my life for months, and I can't and shouldn't expect them to, because they weren't there.
I'm thankful for the time I had there, really thankful. I think and hope I left everything with everybody down there on the best terms I could. I'd like to go back, but right now, I am back in Kansas City, and I know that God has plans for me here now too. I think a lot of His plan right now is for me to grow in serving and trusting. I don't have a job, and I'm not in school, so obviously I have a lot of down time. I am necessarily having to stick around my house and my family a lot, and there's not much for me to do other than serve them, so this is good for me.
I left, and ended up leaving what I went when I left.
Here's an amazing song by the Weakerthans of the same name.
My city's still breathing (but barely it's true)
through buildings gone missing like teeth.
The sidewalks are watching me think about you,
sparkled with broken glass.
I'm back with scars to show.
Back with the streets I know
Will never take me anywhere but here.
The stain in the carpet, this drink in my hand,
the strangers whose faces I know.
We meet here for our dress-rehearsal to say " I wanted it this way"
Wait for the year to drown.
Spring forward, fall back down.
I'm trying not to wonder where you are.
All this time lingers, undefined.
Someone choose who's left and who's leaving.
Memory will rust and erode into lists of all that you gave me:
a blanket, some matches, this pain in my chest,
the best parts of Lonely, duct-tape and soldered wires,
new words for old desires,
and every birthday card I threw away.
I wait in 4/4 time.
Count yellow highway lines that your relying on will lead you home.