(sorry, I cry a lot)
When I was little, I remember worrying whenever I went over to a friend’s house that my parents would be lonely without me. I remember crying at my first sleepover because my momma couldn’t get a goodnight kiss from me. I remember when my dad tried to bring my American Girl doll on a trip for me but he accidentally only brought her suitcase and I cried because I wanted her but then I cried because I didn’t want my dad to think I was mad at him for forgetting her.
I remember in elementary school I spilled my snack and I cried because my mom had taken the time to pack it for me and then it was ruined. In third grade my dad painted my room pink and purple for me and in eighth grade I repainted it blue and ever since have regretted painting over what my dad made for me. In high school I chose over and over again to hang out with my parents and my siblings instead of my friends. In high school I chose UMD because my family has such connection to that area.
When they left me at college, I cried because I didn’t have any friends and I cried because I didn’t want my brother to be lonely without me. When my sister got married, everyone said our relationship would change, and I cried thinking that she (nor I) wouldn’t like that very much. Every time I went home my freshman year, I cried when I had to go back to Duluth. Fifty percent of the countless times that I had to go back to Duluth in the years following I still cried to leave them behind. This year I had to miss my dad’s birthday and I cried after I got off the phone with him. This past spring, I made the decision to go to Peru for a year and I cried thinking of what I would miss in my family’s lives and what they would miss in mine. Today, I’m preparing to go to Peru, to leave this family of mine, and the tears still come when I sit down and think about what leaving means.
If you know me and even a little bit about the way I love my family, you’ll have read that and it would have made sense to you that I responded those ways in those situations. You know that I choose my family first, that I went home a lot more than you did in college, and you are probably beyond surprised that I’m leaving these people I love so much for so long.
I’m surprised too.
But I trust a God that loves me a lot more than I love my family and a lot more than my family loves me.
My freshman year, I heard about this kind of internship with Cru – called STINT. They described people giving up a year, leaving what they know and love, and going elsewhere to try to start a Cru ministry. I was baffled and appalled and a little disgusted that people would choose to do that. That they’d leave their families to go. Like why? That’s a little extreme.
My sophomore year, I studied abroad in Chile, and was surrounded by universities that had Cru movements on them. I got to do ministry with the Chilean Cru students and staff for nearly six months, and I loved all of it. At the end of my semester, Cru students from over 30 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean went to a Cru conference in Panama. The conference was translated into three different languages, and it blew my mind to see so many people from so many different backgrounds and places coming together with the same purpose. The same purpose!! I loved it, and tears poured down my face as the Lord opened my eyes to see how he loves and knows the people he created.
The beginning of my junior year, I said in front of a group of more than 100 Cru students: “If God is molding my heart to be more like his, and has opened my eyes to how He loves people, and has shown me a need for the Gospel ALL over, why would I not do anything about that? Why would I sit here and ignore what he’s teaching me?”
The summer after my junior year, I went with Cru to Spain, and went to a very similar conference as to the one mentioned above, but for Cru students from all over Europe. Again, tears poured down my face as God softened my heart even more to loving people all over and giving everyone his message of love, hope, and redemption. It was at this conference (a year ago) that I started asking myself what it would look like for me to do a STINT year.
Fall of my senior year, I heard of Cru desiring to start a new movement in Trujillo, Peru. I started asking myself what it would look like for me to stint there. At the end of December, I then asked Cru what it would like for me to stint there. And they responded, “That is a great idea. Apply, and pray that the Lord would raise up a team of people to go.”
January 1 I started my application.
It sat, untouched, for a month and a half as I cried over thinking about leaving my family.
Mid-February I opened it back up, and spent one of my days off completing it. It was submitted, and I waited. In the two weeks after the application deadline, the applications to stint in Peru went from one to seven. A team came together, and that had been the confirmation I had been asking of the Lord as to whether or not that’s where I should be after graduation.
And so I’m leaving my family. It’s not because it doesn’t make me cry (because obviously it does), but it’s because my God has a unique plan for my life, and right now his desire for me is to be in Peru. He has been softening and molding my heart to go since probably before I’d even heard about STINT. The last four years He’s shown me a lot of love, a lot of Him, a lot of the world, and a lot of grace. He’s shown me that it is worth giving up what/who I think deserves all of my love for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus and for gaining Christ. To lose is to win. To win is to know more of Christ. To know more of Christ is to gain Christ. To gain Christ is to love God more. And to love God more is what I what to spend my life pursuing.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.