I slipped up this week. Regressed to a nostalgic, YAGM-like state after seeing pictures of some YAGM friends gathered on Thursday for the interview event this weekend. I let down the barriers I had so carefully constructed to focus on living in the present and started reading blogs, the stories of current YAGM serving, loving, learning, being awesome people.
And this Saturday morning, I continued, reading of the simple things, the hugs, the new foods, the school breaks, the new families that have embraced strangers, the struggle to burst from comfort zones, the slow transition to feeling comfortable and loved in new homes.
And I cried. Sitting alone at my desk, hunched over the technical research articles I’m supposed to be reading, beside my window showcasing the spring sun and the beautiful day. I cried for the life I lived and for the life I’m living, the one that is so different from anything I experienced last year. The one that makes me forget that the world is bigger than choosing a PhD thesis lab, than this grant proposal I need to write for class, than the intricacies of relationships in America, where people don’t instantly shower you with love simply for being present.
I cried because sometimes I feel as if I’ve lost part of myself. The part of myself that could sit on the hard living room floor for three hours and talk with friends, doing absolutely nothing, the part of myself who could receive love gracefully, the part of myself who was thankful for all the tiny love gifts of a day, especially the ones that came initially as frustration and misunderstanding.
And I know my YAGM year was not the end of all good things but the beginning. I know a large part of YAGM is sharing our stories, the stories of countries around the world, of love and grace and being uncomfortable but growing in and through that discomfort. And I know that life doesn’t stop post YAGM. I know that the potential for love and grace and growth is here, now in New Haven. That I have friends, communities here that love and support me in very real ways. That I can still be grateful for the small things that remind me of the presence of an incredible, loving God.
In those tears, I remember the immense joy and blessings I’ve received through so many people in other places. But also the goodness of God that I have been experiencing right here now. They are the tears of experience, of growth and a deep sense of gratitude that continues to sustain me as New Haven becomes my home.