That’s not a lot of time, you guys. 3 weeks. 19 days, if we want to be technical.
I’ve been fielding a lot of questions along the lines of, “are you excited?” and/or “are you ready?” along with exclamations of “you’re almost done! can you believe it?!?”
Well, after being a 5th year senior, you’d think I could believe it. But still, I can’t.
This is typical for seniors, as we wait with baited breath for graduation day to arrive. We get used to the questions, the excited repsonses when we say we’re seniors; we smile our way through the “what’s next?” question we get at least 10 times a day, and anxiously wait for the day to actually arrive so the questions stop. (at least that’s me).
I’m excited and ready to be done with school, for sure. If this week was any indication, I was ready to be done with schoolwork in February.
On the outside, I am thrilled. To everyone that asks, I’m pumped and excited to be done, finally, and for whatever is next to be here already. Even though I don’t know what that is. (*deep breaths*)
And that’s true. But it’s not the whole truth.
If I’m being completely honest, the closer we get to the end… I’m realize that no, I’m not that excited. I’m not quite ready. The bigger the lump in my throat gets, the more the tears begin to well.
Because no matter how prepared or ready I am for the future, I am not ready to say goodbye to my present.
I am not ready to leave my right now. At all.
The cliche of how fast college goes by becomes really true when the graduation countdown hits the 30 day mark.
I’m not ready to leave Lipscomb. I’m not excited about saying goodbye to this chapter, or leaving this community I love so much. I’m not ready or excited about leaving these people, this dorm, this location. The buildings and the relationships I’ve built. Sure, they’ll still be here, but they’ll be forever changed.
It’s my safe place. My home, moreso than any home I’ve lived in. I was talking to a dear friend last week, and she commented that Lipscomb was our stability– the most stable thing we’d ever had. I can’t disagree with her on that. It’s my crutch– without it, I’m afraid the world is going to fall from under me.
My favorite memories have surrounded this place and the people here– whether in Mexico or New Orleans, Elam Hall or the student center, my most favorites parts of my life and myself are swept up in this community.
This place has made me who I am. It’s so much more than a school, than a 4 (or 5) years of learning in a classroom and getting a diploma to hang on the wall. Lipscomb is so much more than that. It’s changed my life, and it’s changed me. My faith has changed. My personality has changed. My friend group, my passions, my hobbies, have all been shaped by this place.
I’ve had more fun here, more than any other time of my life. I’ve had hardships and people to love me through them, unlike any other time in my life. I’ve had happy days and sad days, and in-between days. I’ve had friends hold me when I needed, and I’ve held friends. I’ve had countless coffee dates and group meetings and lunches and dinners with people I love. I’ve sat through mission trip or service club meetings and tutored students and held hands of strangers in chapel. I’ve interned and taught students, I’ve danced with and sang worship songs with a mission team in the heat of Mexico. I’ve been baptized by a friend at a church that meets in a bar, and watched others be baptized in the fountain in the square.
I’ve made memories and laughed till I cried or cried till someone made me laugh. I’ve done it all, all the things I wanted to and more. But I still am not ready for this time to end.
I found myself here. I found God here, and finally learned what a relationship with Jesus is supposed to be like. It’s saved my life, and has made me a much better person than I was when I walked on this campus Fall 2011 as a freshman.
I love this place so much, more than I’ve loved anything in my life.
There’s no way I’m ready to say goodbye.
I can’t think about leaving without crying. There’s a lump in my throat just thinking about it, every day, everywhere I go. I’ve cried almost nightly at the thought of having to leave this place, and everytime someone asks me how excited or ready I am, I feel a pang of sadness in my heart.
My present has been the best chapter of my life. I’m scared of it turning into the past.
I was sitting at the bell tower tonight, something I do when I’m overwhelmed and need to journal and pray, with a clear view of the starry sky. And all I could think of while I was there was the fact that in three weeks, I won’t get to do this anymore. And I cried. I won’t be able to waltz out of Elam on a whim’s notice to do this anymore. Or go to Ezell Chapel when I want to have quiet time. Or sit in Starbucks when I want to socialize. Or play banangrams in Elam Lobby.
I was sitting in my swing (yes I have a swing, anyone that knows me on campus knows which one it is), and all I kept thinking about was what I’m going to do without my swing. 3 weeks, then it’ll be a memory. That’s all.
I’m not ready for that.
I haven’t told this to anyone, but last fall, before I quit student teaching and my semester went to hell in a handbasket, I didn’t feel like my time at Lipscomb was over yet. I felt that something was going to keep me here a little while longer… Lord I didn’t know how that was going to be answered at the time (and how I hate that that was what happened), but I’m thankful for it– if only because it gave me the gift of more time.
But this time, that feeling is still here– that lingering feeling that I’m not done here just yet. But this time, there’s nothing able to keep me here any longer. And I hate it.
If you ask me if I’m excited for the future, I’ll say I’m getting there. (This post is helping me breathe and trust the path right now).
If you ask me if I’m ready to be done with school, I’ll say a hearty yes and respond with the days countdown to May 7th.
And yet, thinking about these things right now makes tears well up in my eyes, because the thought of saying goodbye to my present to make way for my future is absolutely breaking my heart ten ways to Sunday.
Know when you ask me these things, that the day May 7th actually rolls around is going to be more bitter than sweet for me. It will be a celebration, for sure, one that I have earned and worked my ass off to overcome a boatload of challenges to earn. But it will still be a hard day. Really hard.
Because once they call my name, I’ll get my diploma, then get into a car and go to a home that’s not Elam Hall–and for the first time in 4 years, I leave knowing that I won’t return in the fall … off to a new chapter that hasn’t been figured out yet. The thought steals my breath.
No more safety net, no more stablity. No more ‘home’.
And I don’t know how I’m going to handle that.
If it’s anything like I’m handling writing these words right now, it’s not going to be pretty.
We see that Winnie the Pooh quote about goodbyes around this time of the year — as cliched as it is at this point, it still rings true:
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
And Jesus, am I ever so lucky.
But that doesn’t make saying the goodbyes any easier.
Be gentle with your senior friends, y’all. (Especially this one). They probably don’t want you to ask them about graduating for the 100th time that day. They could probably just use a hug, a reminder that it’s going to be okay (eventually).