As I sat there looking at the orange goo on my finger trying to figure out why anyone would want to eat these things, I started to wonder to myself, “Can I really do this? Will I last here?” Cleaning a crab. This is the point when I started to question if I could make it here in Louisiana. I was sitting at a table with wonderful people but all I could think about was how much I missed my family and friends. I had been here just over two months when it hit me that I wasn’t just on a mission trip but that I had moved to Opelousas for the next year. I wasn’t going home. I wasn’t going back to school. I was here…. and I felt alone. I hadn’t even realized that I was going to get homesick and now I was sitting with a heartache that just wouldn’t go away. You see, I had lived away from my family before but my life was very different then. At that time I was active in my addiction to drugs and alcohol so I could always count on those to erase any feelings that had. I have been clean for almost four years now though, so what has changed so much that I am struggling to be away from family and friends now? Relationships.
I have always loved my family but I can honestly say that the last time I had lived away from them it just wasn’t a struggle because I had pushed them away. I didn’t talk to them about my struggles or joys. Instead, I would just keep things on the surface like I would with an acquaintance from work or something. Now, I can share with them, I can be open and honest with them. I love them for who they are and who they allow me and have helped me to become.
As for my friends, well, I guess you can say that my friends have completely changed. Not just our relationships but the entire physical person. Soon after I got clean I realized that I had drinking and using buddies, not friends. The friends that I have now are true friends, the kind that hold me accountable, pray with me, pray for me, and love me for the person that Christ has made me to be.
Over a month has passed since that first deep pang of homesickness came over me but it wasn’t until last night that I realized how much my relationships with my family and friends has changed for me and how much love we truly have for one another. Love really does change everything and I thank God that I now can recognize that.
As I thought about this and thought about what I am doing here, I now know that God has invited me here to show His love to the kids that come to HFO, to the staff that work here, and to this community. A friend asked me last night what it would be like to invite Christ into my sadness. It was then that I realized I do not have to ask Christ into my sadness but that he has invited me into His sadness. So although I may still get homesick I have been invited into the sadness and brokenness that Christ sees here. Even more important, Christ has invited me to be a part of His kingdom here in Opelousas.