I have known loss, and though grief came to me in a different way, it was just as real, just as hurtful. Sophomore year of college: what I deem “the worst year of my life.”
The summer prior, I had gone to India, and it was a dream come true. I developed a deep love for India even before I ever went, without knowing a single Indian person or missionary, without seeing an Indian movie or eating Indian food. So, one can only imagine how I felt after I really experienced it all; I loved India more than even I could understand.
I loved it all…
the people and the culture,
the sights and sounds,
the smells and the tastes
-– every experience filled my teacup heart to the brim before overflowing it with warmth and sweetness. I was finally home.
Then in June, I woke up in my bedroom in Ohio – not in India. I didn’t wake up to the sunrise or sound of monkeys jumping on my roof or boys singing in Hindi; I didn’t wake up to cool morning breezes or sugary, steamy cups of chai; instead, I woke up to to a dark room, a cloudy overcast sky, in a place I didn’t want to be.
My friends understood. I talked to them on the phone, and many shared my same sentiments, saying we’d meet up and talk about everything once we got back to school. They were good plans, probably made with good intentions, but they never took place. Those friends weren’t my friends anymore. I didn’t get to share even a small piece of my heart with them, let alone the whole sum of its passionate, aching self; thus, I talked to no one. I stayed quiet, put on a smile, and meandered my way through my sophomore year feeling friendless and quite honestly depressed.
Many days consisted of me dragging myself out of bed for classes, buying food, and then locking myself in my dorm room in the dark to eat alone and binge watch “Lost” on Netflix. I took unnecessary naps to numb the pain of loneliness and longing for a place thousands of miles away. I cried myself to sleep each night, begging God to let me go back to India, asking Him what I did wrong to lose my friends. He wouldn’t give me back what I had lost, which to me, translated into Him not caring about or loving me. I fell back into old, habitual sin.
I stopped praying, reading my Bible, and serving from a pure heart. I spent a year of my life in deep sadness, bitterness, and confusion. Nothing made sense.
Sometimes we lose a place; we live somewhere we’re convinced we don’t belong, left to try and understand why we couldn’t stay in the one location where we finally felt at home, longing every day to return, and having to come to terms with this word “seasons.” Somehow, people get lost in transitions. Somewhere along the way, in the moving from here to there, people just sort of fall off the edge of life, drift away slowly, or disappear entirely without a hint or warning of any kind.
It took me a while to realize that grief doesn’t have to just be an end; with Jesus, it can be a beginning.
In retrospect, I understand that my pain was NOT WORTHLESS. God didn’t take those friends from me, yet much good came out of it with the new friends He gave, and my faith in God and character have been made stronger because of it.
I have learned how to truly forgive (and to do so on a daily basis).
I have learned:
… that our plans don’t always work out,
… that we may not always be where we want to be,
… that life isn’t perfect.
But more importantly, I have learned that God is still good.
To be frank: He is STILL THERE in the midst of the hurting – when our nights are spent weeping, when friends leave, when we fall away to sin, when we miss a place, when we can’t make sense of anything – He’s there, He loves us, and He cares.
Even in heartache, if we run to Him, if we let Him, He embraces us fully and heals our wounds, one moment at a time.