Over the summer, as I’ve written about before, I was involved with a discipleship/leadership project called Elevate. One of the requirements on the project is to get a job and work 30 hours a week (a nice feature for cash-strapped college students). By the grace of God, I secured a position at Staples for the summer as a cashier, which meant a lot of my time was spent standing alone while people perused what we had to offer.
About halfway through the summer, during one of my shifts, a song came on that reminded me of my time spent in Pullman last year. I can’t tell you why, but at that moment it fully hit me that I wasn’t going back there at the end of the summer.
Out of the 72 students who were spending those 10 weeks down in San Diego, all but 3 of them would be returning to the same place together once it was over (Kylie was moving, Austin Carter and myself were going to help plant Resonate Church on CWU’s campus). Again, I don’t know why it hadn’t hit me before, but I was suddenly struck by the fact that I wouldn’t be going back to the place where I’d made so many memories and friends.
I literally felt nauseous all of a sudden, and had to bend over and support myself on my knees. I felt like I’d just been punched in the stomach. At the time, there were no customers in the store, so I took the opportunity to write down what I was processing in my mind. This is what I wrote on the backside of a receipt lying next to the cash register:
“I hold it together pretty well, but every now and then there will be something – a song, a memory, a feeling – that will remind me of my time in Pullman. Honestly, it nearly makes me nauseous to think that I won’t have those moments any more. I know I made the right decision in transferring to Central, but it’s really tough knowing how much I’m gonna miss while in Ellensburg.
I guess that’s life, though. No matter which path you choose, you always give something up. Now I’m realizing why so many people are astounded that there are students transferring schools for the church plant. I know that the relationships I develop in Ellensburg will be even deeper than those in Pullman, but it’s still incredibly hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I won’t be returning to WSU next year.
It’s interesting to think about how I’ll feel about this time of my life 10 years from now. How will I view these next years as I reflect on them?”
I was thinking about that moment of doubt, loss, and fear the other night, and how much has changed since then. Recently, I had two guys, Devon and Alex, hanging out at my apartment. Both are students here at Central, and neither of them knew each other or had any involvement with Resonate last year.
As they sat in my living room while I did (or at least attempted) homework, they spoke with each other about guys who they were currently praying for, trying to hang out with as much as possible, and have gospel conversations with. It struck me then how cool it was that they’d been brought together and were strengthening one another as they lived on mission to pursue the campus of Central Washington University with the love of Christ.
Just last year, there was no way they would be having conversations like that one. Devon had brought one person to the ministry he attended last year, because he didn’t think any of his friends would like it. That one person never came back, and Devon was not surprised. Alex planned on leaving Ellensburg because he didn’t feel the sense of community that he craved, both in college and in Christianity.
Those are the moments that blow my “back of the receipt” thoughts away. If we hadn’t moved here, their lives would have been way different, along with dozens of other stories that are very similar to theirs.
Praise God that He did not allow feelings and emotions to override the call he placed on our lives last year. I’m so glad that I’ve had the chance to be a part of the work He’s doing here, especially as we’re about to have our baptism service this Sunday, where we’ll be celebrating 17 death-to-life or rededication stories! Church planting is not always easy, but it’s always worth it.