As I have finished my last semester of college and my final days of student teaching, I can confidently say that these were some of my most important days yet. Through my 16 weeks of intensive classroom experience, I have learned the ins and outs of what it takes to be a great teacher. I have seen the complications, the struggles, the frustrations, the conflict, the tension…but in the midst there is powerful healing laughter, bountiful unadulterated smiles, excitement of uncharted waters, and deeps sighs of a day well-done.
And this is how I feel now that I have finished my three and a half years at Nyack. As I write this I sigh yet again, rather dumbfounded that I graduated college and experienced the awe and wonder of fresh freedom. I have said goodbye to a firmly and strongly established community of friends, a church of deep belonging, mountains and water that accompany early mornings, and squeaky faces of young students that I’ll never forget. But in this goodbye, I am saying an even greater “hello” to a life of expectancy, of fantastical whimsy, of exploration, of boldness, of fear, and of triumph. I am saying hello to adulthood. Terrified? You wouldn’t even begin to understand (though perhaps you might…)
I am ready and well-prepared for such a time as this.
However, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to say goodbye or hello. This dialogue is one that frequents many college students whether or not your heart is aware of it.
When you step foot onto campus, you say goodbye to your family, your hometown, the safe life you once lived – only to say hello to the exciting, humbling college experience.
You say “goodbye” to sleep during finals as you seep your teeth and fingers into rigorous assignments and “hello” frequently to the librarians and to those sadly uncomfortable chairs in the silent section and nod “hello” to your fellow sufferer next to you. You say hello to sacrifices for success.
You quickly say “goodbye” to a protected and established identity, one you thought was healthy and God-driven, and “hello” to healing and renewal and understanding and truth.
You say “goodbye” to the air of your hometown only to have your lungs awakened as you breathe “hello” to the atmosphere of your new surroundings.
You give a lip-quivering “goodbye” to your trusted, heart-safe, high school best friends so that you can be greeted by people who represent balance, advocacy, comfort, joy, passion, leadership, integrity, ambition, grace, belonging, challenge, light, and humor.
As you can see, every sacrificial “goodbye” is always greeted by a “hello.” The ending of those important comfortable qualities of life are always taken care of by new beginnings. We just have to trust that “goodbyes” aren’t the end. Really, they’re just the start.
And as I have had to sacrifice much to get my degree, I have been faithfully greeted by a life that never disappoints. Every goodbye has an even greater hello awaiting me.
So fellow Nyackers, don’t let this season pass you by. Don’t be scared of saying goodbye to things you once knew and called home. Say hello to the sustained promises of our Abba that he will greet you in every future you make with Him.