Emotions. They are strange beasts. When I feel pain, they will hide themselves in a little corner of my heart somewhere, so contained and numb. I want to cry, but I can’t, and then I feel guilty or confused for not crying. And then at odd, inconvenient moments they rear up from their hiding places and settle in my bones so that everything just seems grey. I don’t want to talk to anyone and I don’t know why. But then I figure out why, and then I can’t stop thinking about it and someone says one thing to me and all of a sudden the beasts have escaped from their cages and are clawing at my tear ducts and I need to find a room with no one in it so that I can cry without anyone seeing me because I hate crying in public (except at sad movies or funerals and such. Maybe the more accurate statement is that I hate crying when no one else is). I don’t cry when I should, and I cry when I least expect it. It’s like my own body throws me a surprise party where it yells, “Surprise! EVERYTHING SUCKS.”
Confession. I had one of these moments this weekend. I was on vacation up north, sitting outside, getting ready to go on my aunt’s boat with all my extended family. I was talking to my mom. And I was in that grey stage–nameless pain. My mom asked me what I missed about Ocean City. I started to answer, and then all of my sisters came outside and our conversation was brought to a halt. And right then, I felt it–that dreaded heat in my eyes, the wobble of my stomach, the difficulty swallowing. I ran through the cottage past all of my cousins and into the bedroom, curled up on the bed, and proceeded to miss Ocean City with every fiber of my being, tears rolling down my cheeks.
The place. I miss Ocean City Coffee Company. I miss the lobby of the Inn and the mismatched couches that were always mysteriously damp. I miss my messy room. I miss helping out in the kitchen that was like a human oven. I miss the boardwalk and all its classless T-shirt stores. I miss the foyer of Clancy’s that was always too hot or too cold and the giant, dusty tree in the corner. I miss the beach even though I only went there a few times. I miss worshipping and crying and laughing and listening at Ocean City Baptist Church, a.k.a. the Holy Icebox. I miss the giant freezer, a.k.a. the Regular Icebox. I miss the Pennant Room and the stupid lack of Wi-Fi. I miss the Heritage Room and all the old pictures of past projects students with the best-worst haircuts I’ve ever seen. I miss the wraparound porch and all the meals I shared there. I miss the DTR swing and all the totally-platonic conversations I had on it. I miss the Staff Lounge where I had Bible study. I miss Wawa (dear Lord, how I miss Wawa). I miss Philadelphia. I miss New York. I miss singing to Moulin Rouge in the car. I miss the baby snow leopards. I miss the Bashful Banana. I miss the boat where I went crabbing. I miss Atlantic City and all the gospel-sharing, creative dating, and shopping there. I miss people’s cars. I miss the baseball field. I miss the pavilion on the boardwalk where we worshipped at night. I miss the 60th St. beach and all its falling stars. I miss the sunsets, and I miss the sunrises.
The environment. I miss being encouraged constantly. I miss being in a place where it is acceptable and doable to focus totally on the Lord 24/7. I miss being poured into and pouring into others. I miss learning about God and teaching others about Him. I miss worshiping with my friends and being able to raise my voice and clap my hands and dance around in joy without anyone caring. I miss the relative lack of worldly distractions. I miss Date Nights with Jesus. I miss having deep conversations at the drop of a hat. I miss on-fire Christians who are excited about the Gospel and want to share it with others. I miss people hugging me all the time, asking me the right questions, and, yes, asking me “how my heart is.” I miss being admonished and corrected when I sinned. I miss playing Hot Seat. I miss the relative lack of mean sarcasm. I miss laughing with my girlfriends about everything and nothing at all. I miss growing so much in my faith every day that each new journal entry sounded like it was coming from a different person. I miss Jake shouting “Someone lift His Name!” (“Jeee-ZUS!”) and our amazing clap-chant thing. I miss seeing constant victory over sin and having Truth and joy and confidence running through my head far more often than lies and doubts and anxieties and frustrations. I miss being in an environment whose sole purpose is to glorify God. I miss all my quarter students that I grew so close to during my last week. I miss feeling God’s presence and power so utterly that I am left breathless. I miss people laughing at my corny Christian jokes. I miss laughing at other people’s corny Christian jokes. I miss being able to tell inside jokes without having to explain them. Boom. Shotgun. Full circle.
The people. In my last post, I described the difficulty I had had in my last few weeks with feeling close to anyone. I had prayed and prayed that I would be blessed with close relationships–people I would miss when I was gone. And of course, God was faithful. I miss my roommates. I miss my Impact group. I miss my coworkers. I miss the friends I made off project. I miss my discipler and my disciples. I miss my campus. I miss the staff. I miss the people I became best friends with last minute. I miss the people who hugged me when I cried as semester students left. I miss the people I wish I got to know better. I miss the people that did crazy things with me and stayed up all night with me. I miss the people who encouraged me toward the Lord always. I miss the people who are as crazy on-fire for God as I am. I miss the people with whom I made grand plans for the future. I miss the people I want to travel the world with to go on mission. I miss the people I’m seeing tonight in our Skype conversations. I miss the people I might never see again, at least this side of Heaven. I miss every beautiful and terrible thing about everyone who was there. I miss you.
But. I am still me. I have changed inextricably in some ways, but undoubtedly I am Erin Elizabeth Donohoe. I am still learning, albeit at a slower pace. I am still in the Word. I am still loving the Lord. I am still journaling. I am still keeping in touch with friends from Project. I am still ready to go where God takes me. And sitting on that bed in the cottage, reading my Bible, writing furiously in my journal, I realized that He is still faithful, still good, still loving, still forgiving, still powerful, still wise. He still takes my burdens, He still provides, He still listens. God is still God, whether I’m at home or in Ocean City. Yes, I will miss it terribly. It made a mark on my heart, and I certainly left traces of myself all over it. I will probably always miss it. But I cannot always grieve for this summer. Any further grief takes me out of the present that He has given me. God wants me where I am, which, right now, is home. And now that I’m there, I realize I missed air conditioning. I missed my dog and my cats. I missed my parents and my sisters. I missed sleeping in. I missed the piano. I missed my giant, ridiculously-comfortable bed. I missed the clean bathroom and its now-seemingly-huge shower. I missed Parmenter’s Cider Mill. I missed the trees. I missed my small town and my backyard and the pear trees and the apple trees. I missed Wi-Fi. I missed my younger sister’s sassy humor. I missed the lake. I missed having a car to drive around. I missed having nothing to do. I missed reading for pleasure. I missed my friends from high school. I missed Parks and Rec. I missed the chill in the air. I missed home.
Now. I’m only ten days away from moving back to campus. New things to miss. Cru. Equip Group. My discipler, Kara. My friends. My roommates. My a cappella group. Writing. Classes. Sweater weather. Evanston. Starbucks. Singing with the worship band at Real Life on Thursday nights. Teaching Children’s Church at Evanston Bible Fellowship. The colors of the trees in autumn. Steak-n-Shake. Laughing with my co-workers at the Center for Talent Development. University Hall. The hidden spot near the library where I like to go because it reminds me of Narnia. And there are new things to look forward to as well. My apartment. New freshman. Leading ministry on campus in a new way. Cooking for myself. Writing stories for the creative writing program. New stories to tell my friends. New perspectives on God. New things to learn from Him.
Forward. This is where I am moving, spiritually, emotionally, academically. And I just want to take a moment to thank anyone and everyone who helped me to get to this point, from those who supported me with prayer or finances to those who answered the phone when I called laughing or crying hysterically. And to those of you on Project–one of the best things about being people who know Jesus is that we never have to say goodbye forever. You are forever in my heart. From this point forward, any tears for you will not be cried in grief, but will be cried in joy seeing you and what God has done in your life. I urge you to follow Him alongside me into what He has for us, on campus, next summer, our whole lives. I love you. Let’s goooooooooooooo.