In the four years that I lived in Alabama my number one complaint was that it got too hot too soon and stayed hot too late (I guess the tornadoes were kind of a downer, too). I always say I prefer cooler weather. I complain about the sticky oppressive heat of the South. Yet for some reason, I really want it now. I want to wear cotton summer dresses and sandals, drink sweet tea with buckets of ice, start sweating when I step outside.
I find it truly wonderful that it's so easy to communicate across the globe. I can Skype my family and literally talk face-to-face! In fact, last Saturday two really dear friends of mine were married in Alabama; even though they're an ocean away, I got to speak to them on their wedding day and even watch them get married because of Skype!
I'm so happy I got to do this, but it had one unfortunate consequence, and that's that I realized how much I terribly miss everyone, all my family and friends in Georgia and Alabama. It's almost easier to have less direct contact, because then I'm not presented with the reality that life is continuing and changing back home and I'm not a part of it. All the little familiar things - the hot weather and sweet tea - are there and I won't experience them. And the people that are dear to me, they're getting married and changing jobs and making life decisions and I'm not there to be a part of it.
This blog post is part of a self-pity party I've been having for nearly a week now. I think this is the most homesick I've been since my first few weeks here. And while I'm having this sudden bout of homesickness, I'm making decisions about possibly staying in Cardiff for another year after I graduate. What am I thinking??? I'm thinking that I really like Cardiff and God may have sent me here for more than just a master's degree.
This past Sunday, the evening sermon was on Mark 8:22-38. Mark 8:34-35 says, "And [Jesus] calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.'"
"Losing his life" in this passage has two meanings. 1) Literal loss of life - dying for the Gospel if necessary - and 2) Giving up everything, really everything to follow Jesus. Truly following Jesus means we have to be willing to drop everything to run after him, just like the fishermen James, John, and Peter did when they first met him (Luke 5:1-11).
Listening to the sermon, I thought, "Ok, God, I get it. I've told you before I'm willing to drop everything to follow you, and now you're giving me the opportunity to put that into practice." If staying in Cardiff is his will, then I have to be separated from my family & friends back home. If going back home is is will, then I have to leave those that are quickly becoming dear to me here in Cardiff. Or maybe his will is for me to go somewhere else entirely.
Regardless, I will never be able to have all the people I love in one place, and they're not mine to hoard anyway. The pastor quoted Jim Elliot - who was killed for preaching the Gospel - "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
As hard as it is to be away from the people I love, I know God is all I need and far more than that.