It sounds like I’m living with a disease, doesn’t it? Kind of like living with myalgia (muscle pain) or neuralgia (nerve pain). And in a way, it is like that.
Nostalgia involves living with heart pain, with an unfulfilled yearning to return to a former time and place in your life, even if it’s only in your memories.
Are you ever nostalgic? Maybe it’s your college days. Or your childhood home. Some happy time in the past tugs at your heart.
I’m often nostalgic. And right now it has intensified. But I’ve found that when I return to the place for which I long, it doesn’t always measure up to the memories. Have you found that?
It can never be the same again. Good or bad, the place is different, sometimes radically so. The people have grown and some have moved on, as people are apt to do. Moreover, you will be changed.
Thomas Wolfe, the man for whom my Asheville writing degree is named, coined the phrase, “You can’t go home again.”
Expatriates, those who live in countries other than their home one, learn that cultural differences are not wrong. They’re just different.
Well, going back is just different than it used to be, too.
I’m pondering this now because I’ve been agonizing over a decision to return to Romania for a 25-year celebration. Last night, I sent my regrets via email. (At least, that’s what I attempted to do. However, I wrote my message in Romanian so they may think I was ordering a pizza.)
I would LOVE to go. I miss that place, those people, my former life. But I had to say “no,” not because I’m afraid it won’t live up to my expectations, but because the timing just kind of stinks. I’d miss Thanksgiving. The end of the semester is my busiest time at work (graduation) and classes (final projects). And I’d prefer to go for a longer visit sometime and go with Steve.
With each former teammate who responded that they’re going, I felt a new and sharper pang. I want to be there, too! But for now, I’ll have to settle for being with them in spirit.
Last night I dug through old photo albums and posted a few pictures for my old team. They will give you a taste of how incredibly talented and funny they are. The photos are from my going-away party, a mock tribunal, when I left at the end of the year for a few months in the States.
After I posted the photos, one of my teammates wrote that I was guilty. Guilty of having an impact in the lives of students by sharing Christ with them.
As a team, we were all guilty of that. Thank God we were! Because we followed Him, there is something to celebrate 25 years later. Some of those students who came to faith in Christ that first year have been the leaders in the Cru movement for years now—in Romania, throughout Eastern Europe, and to the uttermost parts of the world. Others shine for Christ in the marketplace. Many of them have continued to bear fruit for a quarter of a century.
The realization, even from a distance of 5,000 miles and 25 years, that God used my team to bring His light to a dark place, well, that is priceless. This 25-year celebration is possible because we all heeded His call, trusted Him with the difficult and the glorious, and He showed Himself faithful.
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
I Thess. 5:24