The World Cup has been a lot of things this year. It has been the first year that I have actually watched and cared about outcomes. It has been a year of nail-biter victories from the Comeback Kids from the USA, only to lose a heartbreaker against Ghana. A year of bad referee calls, favorites losing (England) and crazy talent (Brazil, Argentina). But for me, something I realized while taking a shower (a great place to think...and sing), is that it is a trip down memory lane.
Let me explain. Do you have those moments in life that are permanently nailed down by some event outside of your life? Perhaps it is a song that was playing on your first date, and everytime you hear that song, it takes you back. Perhaps it is your favorite sports team winning the championship on the week you graduated (San Antonio Spurs, 2003). For me, the World Cup brings me back to four years ago, when I was in the town of Ohrid, Macedonia, watching the final game with my closest Miami and Macedonian friends.
My trip to Ohrid was with a Campus Crusade for Christ Summer Project. It was one of those pivotal moments in my life where I had one idea for my life and that idea slowly got turned on its head. It was one of those trips that they make movies about; beautiful international locale, drama and love found (Joel and Caitlin eventually got married), of crazy adventures, naked cliff jumps, growth, pranks, and friendship. And above all, for me, it was a time where God continued to show me what it means to follow Him.
Ohrid is one of the most beautiful places in the world; at least looking back through my rose-colored glasses it is. And it was one of the most influential places in my life. Yet it is in the past. And sometimes the past is hard to look back on. I have come a long way from then and still have a long way to go. Many of those who went are now married, some with kids. Two of us are getting married in the next 4 months (congrats Kimberly...and me:) and everyone is beyond Miami University, some to staff with CCC and others to jobs elsewhere. The relationships I had during that time in Ohrid I thought would be with me for the rest of my life. And they are in some ways. But it isn't what I had imagined.
Jane Armstrong once gave a talk my freshman year of college about how God brings people into your life for a season and may take them out of your life again. For that season, as a soon to be college senior, I didn't have a whole lot of people in my day to day life who knew me deeply. So God brought people into my life to teach me. To challenge me to step out and be willing to take risks. He brought dear friends into my life to teach me what it means to love so much that it brings me to tears. He showed me a little glimpse of His heart for the world and it broke my heart to see those who need Him. There are so many lessons I learned from that trip, so many things that in my weaker moments, I wish I could go back and live there again, with the same people, and experience it over and over again.
I always swore I would go back to Macedonia, to relive those moments. And I hope one day I do make it back. Not to relive those moments, but to be able to see where this grande adventure has taken me and what God has done in my life. To remember not for the purpose of living in the past, but for the purpose of praising God for how he used the past to shape me. I will always love Macedonia... and the World Cup will always bring me back to that time in my life where I would do anything for a palacinki and peach tea.