Tonight we had a farewell ceremony for a World Race team that’s been serving with our ministry contact for the last month. Slideshows were shown and tears were shed and the hugs were never ending. The mood took me back to all the times on my World Race when I said goodbye. At the end of some months I didn’t care too much – those were the months I coasted and didn’t invest myself fully. One month we piled in a van and drove away and almost everyone but me was crying. I remember thinking that maybe I missed out on something great, but hey, at least it wasn’t hard for me to leave. I regret those months now. Other months I was unaware how invested I became – the end would come and suddenly it would hit me like a punch in the gut. I will never forget the farewell ceremony we had in Kenya. My stomach hurts now just thinking about it.
So yeah, I had a few flashbacks tonight. But I also experienced a flash forward – a glimpse into what it will look like when we leave Nicaragua in two months. It was a mixed farewell – some of my heart hurt to say goodbye, but not all of it.
I want all of my heart to hurt.
I feel like I’m in this constant battle of asking the question “how can I push myself more?” and then struggling to follow through with what that actually means. It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting when I push myself and it’s exhausting when I don’t (…because when I don’t the weight of what could be rests on my shoulders.)
It’s easy to tell myself I’ll push harder “tomorrow” because it seems like we’ll be here forever. It’s easy to take people for granted because it seems like they’ll always be around. But really, eight weeks isn’t that long.
Last week we had a midway debrief in another city. For a few days I was able to get away from the small world of Jinotepe and look at my life from an outside perspective. It was refreshing to take a break from our weekly routine, to dream up ideas of how to do things better.
In the mornings I’d slip out of our hostel alone and walk through the bustling market, soaking up every bit of life around me. I’d buy the ripest mango I could find and lick the sweet, sticky juice off my fingers. I’d walk to the central park and people watch – usually someone would approach me and try to sell me a hammock or sunglasses or peanuts. Eventually I’d enter the beautiful, bright yellow cathedral and sit by myself in the pews. I’d end my mornings in a café, scribbling thoughts into my diary and sipping on a cheap chai latte.
One morning as I sat in the café I wondered why life couldn’t always be as lovely as it was right then. I figured if I lived every day like this for the rest of my life I’d be happy forever. But deep down I knew that wasn’t true. I wasn’t made to wander the streets alone, to sit back in park benches and pews, to watch life from a distance. I was made to lead and push and sweat and struggle…while sometimes taking a break to sit down and sip on some tasty chai.
Debrief is over and now I’m back in Jinotepe. I miss my morning mango and the contagious energy that comes with a bigger city. But my eyes are set on a goal and I’m determined to make it there. I want to be an absolute wreck when the end comes – I want to cry big, sloppy tears and feel like my heart is being ripped out from inside of me. Because really, isn’t that what life is all about? Giving every ounce of ourselves to God, to people, to causes and commitments?
Anyway, I’m going to give it a try.