My second overseas mission trip was to South Africa with my church in Orange County. There were 22 of us going and every other weekend for a few months leading up the trip I would leave my Sunday morning job early and haul over to the church for training. In an effort to hear story and to get to know each other better we would share “defining moments”: a way to share our heart and apart of story without having to sit there for hours upon hours hearing about each detail of each others lives. Since that summer I’ve always had that in my head. The concept of defining moments; going back through pivotal moments in life and seeing and realizing how those lead you to where you are now. I’ve realized that all of these would be the start of new chapter in my life, of a new lesson I was to learn.
In an effort to share more of how I’ve gotten to where I am now I want to share five specific defining moments (in two parts) . Now, I feel as if I have more than that but these specific four speak volumes into who I am and where I’ve come from. (Mind you; I’m not even touching on 2013 and the world race because that is a defining year and we’re just not going there right now.)
DEFINING MOMENT numero uno. (my attempt to practice my spanish)
Kind of cliché’ but here I would like to talk about high school graduation. Back in June of 2003 I graduated from Kingsburg High school. I wasn’t a valedictorian (all my friends were) I did get to sing at graduation and baccalaureate. But I knew as I walked across the grassy football field that I was finally officially walking into something new. I was going to get a chance to become someone new.
And going into freshman year in college I feel like I did.
My freshman year was a jumble of first time experiences and not always making it to my 8AM music theory class. I spent my freshman year as a music major, singing in a choir, taking way too many one unit classes and hanging out with girls I would have never fit in with in high school. We were the girls who broke many of our contracted rules (I went to a private Christian university), we somehow got the mark of the “mean girls”, we generally got what we wanted and we honestly just had a lot of fun. I think that graduating high school and moving into undergrad was everything it was supposed to be for a small town girl who moved to the ocean. It did what it was supposed too. It awakened me to new experiences, to a bigger world, to a different way to experience God and to a person inside of me who never had anyone allowed herself to show. It will go down as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. It was my first step into a tangible kind of freedom on the inside.
DEFINING MOMENT numero dos,
Freshman year I met a boy. His name was Joe. He was transfer junior; but he was in his first year as well. We had a few music classes together and he was in bible classes with my roommate Melissa. Everybody loved Joe. Including me. Joe made me smile, made me laugh, he called me “han” after he learned I had an H in my name. Joe always showed up to open hours to our dorm room. Joe always found a way to bribe me to get me to go to AM/PM or In and Out at midnight.
When school ended in May and everyone went home for the summer Joe and I still talked a lot. We texted, he’d talk to me on the phone as I walked to my job at the coffee shop. He sometimes text me at midnight and ask me to go to AM/PM even though we lived 3 hours apart, it was mainly a joke but sometimes I wondered if I’d get a text and he’d actually be outside.
Then Joe went MIA in the middle of June.
Needless to say I was pissed. I left scathing voicemails, threatening to never go to in and out with him at midnight, he’d need a new buddy for his Gatorade runs to the gas station. Then on the July 3rd (it was our towns 4th of July celebration day…don’t ask) I got a phone call from “brada joe” (my Hawaiian friend Kaiu had changed multiple names in my phone) I took a deep breath ready to angrily reem him out.
And didn’t get the chance to do any of it. Joe explained how he’d been in the hospital for a couple weeks and all my anger melted away. We talked for awhile about it and made a stupid pact that as soon as I got to campus we’d go to starbucks and not at all before then. And we’d take more pictures, because I informed him, I’d scrolled through pictures and there were hardly any of us.
Joe passed away 3 days later.
That week was hell for me. It was a week filled with tragedy, boating accidents, friends in the hospital and then an instant message from Joe’s brother that brought me to my knees.
The funeral was a week later. My friends from VU sat crammed in a row meant for less people, holding hands and crying. It was the first loss that we had felt without the impact of our family feeling it too.
It was the first time I learned how to be mad at God. How to wrestling with Him, how to yell at Him. My relationship with God became messy after this, more personal. BETTER really.
Going into sophomore year without Joe was rough, really rough. Questions from ignorant people were worse. I got by, learn to walk in God’s strength for the first time.
There are still some days even now though that I miss his voice yelling at me from the 7th floor of Huntington or the times when he’d plead with me to go with him to in and out just one more time. I wrote about that loss in a poem in my creative writing class senior year. It’s thumb tacked in an old poetry blog here.
So there are the first two.
It’s a lot and nothing all at the same time. Just a couple small pieces into the woman I have become and how I got there. Just segments out of two chapters in my life. Themes that still run deep to this day.
Next up will be the moments where I realized I had more to give, that I needed to open my mouth and the moment that made me quit. Look out for it soon.
(my life’s next batch of defining moments will take place for 6 months in Spain starting in July. To learn more about how you can walk with and journey with me through that here)