Somewhere along the lines of my adolescence living on a Ywam base, I shut down meeting new people, and took pride that it was easy for me to say goodbyes.
Sure, staying with the same group of friends was a whole lot easier. Few misunderstanding, total comfortability, and all-in-all a lovely social life. When the new quarters rolled around, we would just pat each other on the backs like some old sports spectators saying, “Hah look at those rookies”. In experience, I was an old grump that didn’t think of the individuals, who were in a totally new situation. Though Hawaii sounds wonderful to a student, living in a new community is a whole different story. There is so much relational need. I mean, when I was a staff kid in elementary school there was not much I could offer. No car, no money, no fancy hospitality gifts. What can you offer? Nothing but friendship. Yet to a new student, that is the most valuable thing you could ever give.
But as an adolescent, I wasn’t healed. I couldn’t handle it. My heart had said goodbye one too many times. Therefore. . . somewhere in time, it shut down.
How else do you expect staff kids to survive when we’re living in a place that is very much like an airport? Take airports for instance. There’s people coming in and out constantly, no restricted uniformity, and an amazingly weird form of camaraderie springs forth. Yes, elderly lady, I will help you with your bag. Yes, stranger baby, I will smile at you. Yes, expensive food, I will pay for you. Not that I’m saying that Ywam bases have expensive food (and even if you think so, God always provides). . . but I am saying that there’s air of unreality that can hit with that camaraderie. . . the layover syndrome where students stop by for three months, yet are still on the move. How does an airport employee make friends with a layover refugee?
So there’s us. Those unofficial employees, the staff kids that have been here five years plus. Or in my case, my whole life. We feel at home in this craziness because it is our place of belonging. We are the multicultural children who thrive in this medley, this paradox, this hybrid environment. A missionary training base. So though we are home, we have visitors constantly. And we’re expected to make friends with those visitors. How could I? How could I connect with people so wholly different from me? Well, for starters, I needed to take off my mask of “overly-confident veteran” to reveal my reality inside. . . insecure, broken heart of stone. How did I take pride in the ease of saying goodbye? If you hug without tears, or without any thought of sadness, have you really and truly loved?
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
It wasn’t until I experienced Him, the Constant, the Rock, the one who is the same in all locations. . . that I was able to open up. I don’t even know when I started giving him my pain. I didn’t even know I had pain until my junior year until I read a book about Third Culture Kids. But through living in this remarkable community of a Ywam base, I knew that He loved me and He said… though you go into all the nations I will be with you wherever you go. He is the one I entrusted my heart to. But he showed me something else. Once you open up to love it is not all easy, not all rainbows and smiley faces. Gah. There’s the heart-wrenching, hey-I-just-got-to-know-you, you’re-amazing, goodbyes. But what else does that mean? There are amazing hellos. Hello, hello, my friend, my life is changed forever because of you, though I have known you for a day, I have seen Jesus through you. Hello. Jesus. The Constant, the reason why there’s so many ins and outs. Because once my idea of comfortable home was shattered, I was able to find my home in Him. The most beautiful, the most lovely, the most constant anyone could ask.
He’s the one that molded my heart into playdough. Rather than stone, squishy dough could be smashed but always molded into something new with every person I met. Molded but not destroyed. God was the Master Potter. So throughout high school I gave Him permission mold me, to unfold me, to open me up. Open up open up open up. Though with that came liking a boy I had no business crushing on, getting melted by romantic movies, and making close friends with new students that were going to leave in three months… and dealing with all the repercussions of that. But the beautiful thing is that I dealt with it all with God, and I received the friendship I needed from the Lord. He sustained me.
Therefore I was able to see His hospitality flow through me.
Finally, I could put myself in their shoes, think of how I would want someone to treat me in a new place. Because soon I will be at a new college in a new town in a new country with new people… and yep there will be those veterans that will sit back and say “hey look at that rookie”. That newbie will be me. And no longer will I be able to take pride in knowing where the best bathrooms are, or remember when that building was built, or have memories lingering in every corner of campus. It will be new. And I will be in that emotional state those thousands of new students were in. Broken down.
And He’s been preparing me- He warned me I will be broken down, I have sorta asked for it but with that vulnerability there is beauty. Saying goodbyes now has been hard. All you in Kona, I will miss you tremendously. But with my experiences I hope to help others. There will people around me that can relate to me now, and in the future there will be people that need my hospitality- and I will be able to tell them what it was like, how faithful Jesus was to prepare a place for me, every time. He never gave up on me. And never will give up on me. I want to have that kind of faithfulness.
No, I can’t give the fullness of my heart to every person I meet, but I can be willing to. Waiting and listening to God, who is beautiful and free and wise and has keep of my heart. What more valuable thing can we give than love? And out of love flows service, and through that, great exploits for the Kingdom of Heaven. How He loves me. How He loves me He loves me He loves me and when am I going to get that? Is it when I’ve fallen on my face for the five billionth time and throw out my pride and realize yes He loves me? Maybe. But I know for sure that it’s when the Holy Spirit brings his revelation, when I ask for it. I will receive the revelation of His love when we come together in this glorious symphony of relationship. . . and the only thing that can come out of it is beauty.
Adolescence is behind me, college life is before me, and all in all, God is with me.
What will it look like? I don’t know.
But this I know, God is my Constant, and there is no other.