The process of telling one the inevitable goodbye almost seems to be a semantic oxymoron — for is there any good in saying bye? Of course, if one is leaving Missouri, there certainly is a glorious feeling in that fateful farewell, but can anything good come from the goodbye to loved ones? I believe there is a bit of good in the act, and I will proceed to give my reasons in light of the pending departure I must take of Emporia, Kansas.
I am twenty-two years old as I pen this and have lived in a total of four states and six cities if we bunch our Kansas City suburbs together. Since my first major move at the age of eleven, I have conquered five cities and moved a total of six times averaging about two years in each city. Thus, I am not new to departing and saying goodbye, and yet it still does not come easy for me. I do confess, however, that being a Christian makes the process much easier — for we shall dine together with the Lord, something I must long for more each day.
But we must move to the thesis of this monologue. I have been lately pondering the effects of my time in Emporia, and this being a literary blog, it is ever so important to apply the concept of characterization to the many phases I have gone through during my time here. I believe it is but too fitting to say man is a character: we are all characters and God is the Playwright. The question we must ask ourselves is what is this Divine Playwright making us into?
Here I believe that I must begin to explain what changes I have experienced during my time in Emporia. When I arrived, I was just as awkward as I am now but far less confident in myself. This confidence came only due to finally understanding God’s role in my life. It is from him that I gain my acceptance: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Looking back on my time in Emporia, it would be a lie to say there have been no regrets. I for one do not comprehend the concept of “having no regrets.” If one has no regrets would he then go on making the same inane decisions over and over again? I would surely hope not. And yet, as a Christian, the conclusion must be made that God’s hand was in everything that occurred and that, though I certainly have regrets, I do not discount the opportunities they have given me to reflect. Indulge me now, if you will, on a personal example of that which is being attempted to be conveyed here.
Upon arriving in Emporia, I had but two main goals: get a degree and find a suitable wife. My idol, in some respects, was a glorified relationship and thus an unrealistic one at that. Now, barring accidents, God will graciously grant me one of the two goals in the coming months (i.e. a degree). I believe that in his infinite wisdom all that was best occurred, granting me something different yet equally as delightful. He gave me a deeper joy and love than I could ever have realized. It is not to say that I would not be joyful, it is to say that this joy is what God intended thus making it a far superior joy for me — one that better equips me to serve and experience him. This joy I speak of is this new found fascination in reading and most recently writing.
Now, the Christian life is not one concerning a denial of joys but one in which our Father exchanges one joy for another each being granted in its specific season at which his joy decides. When I came to Emporia, I had a faint idea of who I wanted to be, now I see clearly — though perhaps not perfectly — the type of person I want to be for Christ.
And thus we turn to the issue at the start: The goodness of our farewells. One can only genuinely and fully reflect on a thing when it is no longer present and thus obstructing his view. The ability to reflect on your time in a place can best happen when you leave that place for good. If we are to never leave, we may never allow ourselves the chance to look back — to assess our growth, to evaluate our time spent, to truly cherish the friendships we have been given. We cannot truly cherish a thing until we recognize that we cannot hold on to it forever.
Very little will be remembered about my current feelings concerning the nice little town of Emporia, but like all other cities I’ve lived in, it will forever be remembered for the good. Most of our nostalgia occurs because we have this uncanny yet natural ability to remember the good in our past experiences. That is exactly what will happen for me, as is already happening.
For Emporia will always be remembered as the town where I met my first true love. I discovered the beauty of written words an the perspective a look back at history gives us. I encroached upon not just beautiful writing and the freedom that it gives, I discovered a far deeper reality. Not only was Chesterton met, but that discovery only uncovered much more. For in Chesterton I found an unending youthful God, in Dickens was the character in each of us and the fascination of a single day’s events, in Mellville was the loquacious philosopher. Like Meriwether and William, my discoveries have only led to a longing for more. They have only begun. This slight insight is but the foot of the mountain that I must continue to scale. I have embraced a bucket, but Niagara Falls is offered. It was in Emporia that I began to view my own life from a much different lens as described. Emporia gave me the freedom that a big city could never offer. Emporia will forever be remembered as the town that changed me and the town that made me.
I am grateful for anyone who took the time to read this little proclamation concerning Emporia. I am not fond of spouting personal humors and thoughts as I am basking in the oddness of the minds of other people. I hope at least you were able to apply this to your own life; that it may give you perspective. As long as we are ignorant of a thing, we cannot fully understand it. I hope I understand Emporia a bit more than when I arrived and may I have the same blessings in my final week.
Soli Deo Gloria!