Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dearest Southern

Dearest Southern,

You have been good to me, almost too good if that’s possible. In fact, you make it hard to return home. We had a rough start and those things I’ve said about you, I take them all back. I don’t know what brought us together. There is no other rational explanation than to give God the credit. He always knows what is best for me, despite how bad things seem to be.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting upon this past year and it is amazing how God has worked in my life especially when I was searching for Him because I didn’t think He was there. I had a really rough start to college. I was essentially friendless because I didn’t come from the network of academies and my heart wanted to be somewhere else. On top of that, I couldn’t find myself. I didn’t know who I was or what I stood for. I essentially hated life my first semester, and I hated God for making me suffer like He did because at the time, I thought it was all pointless. I was miserable and I didn’t see any benefit to any of it. If at some point in the first semester, someone would have told me that I could get up and transfer, I would have been out of here in the blink of an eye. But God didn’t let me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but God was establishing my faith that first semester. I have never had an experience in my life where I strayed away from God but neither had I ever felt a real relationship with Him until now. I began to see Him in every aspect of my life. I saw His guiding hand and I saw His love for me in every part of my day. Sometimes God lets us fall, but He always catches us before we hit the bottom.

Every day of first semester, I had questioned God, “Why am I here? I don’t belong.” But though I feel like I fell a long, long, long way, He has raised me up to be ten times higher, stronger, and happier than where I was before. He has blessed me in too many ways to count; I don’t feel deserving of it.

The biggest blessing in my life is the people He has brought into my life. Making friendships from scratch was really tough. For the longest time, I didn’t feel like myself. I was strangely quiet though there was a lot that I wanted to say and I simply lost all thought processes when I found myself in a conversation. I literally would forget words. It didn’t help that when I did feel comfortable people didn’t seem to understand my jokes, quirkiness, or simply my train of thought. All I wanted was to go home to my friends that I knew would understand me. But again, God had different plans for me and though I was bitter at the time, looking back, you have no idea how thankful I am for that.

My friends here are like none other. I love them so much. They have helped me embrace myself and my “free” spirit and taught me to be comfortable in my skin.
Like friends do, they accepted my weird self. They laugh when I say stupid stuff, understand when I didn’t think anyone else would (especially when I can’t formulate my thoughts into sentences), and act weird with me instead of judging me. Most importantly, they have taught me to embrace myself. It’s those differences, those quirks, that make me, me and those are the things they love me for.

Southern, you have become my home away from home. You have become a place that is my own (even though I have to share you with about 3,000 other students). You make it hard to say goodbye knowing that I may not see some of my friends ever again on this earth, but I know we’ll have the best reunion ever in heaven!

It’s crazy how much one can grow so fond of a place and grow so close to people after just one year. It’s scary to know that I have to leave and I’m not coming back next year. I’m overwhelmed with emotions of excitement for adventures that lie ahead of me in Europe next year, but sad because of the goodbyes left to said before my journey starts and knowing that I will not be here with the rest of my friends next school year while life goes on.

As this year ends, I realize that I still have a lot of room to grow. My faith in God is tested every day. I definitely don’t understand the things that are happening my life, but like I have learned here, I am going to trust God because I know He has it all planned out.

Southern, you have been the best thing that has happened in my life, without a doubt. Here, I have made life-long memories with unforgettable people that I will miss more than words can possibly express. Thank you for everything, the good and the bad. You have brought me to where I’m standing today.


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