I spent last week back in the prairie town where I went to Bible college. I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law. It was a good chance to reconnect with a couple of friends from my time living there who still live in the area. And it made me reflect on what made me love being in that place.
As I walked around the town and through some of the buildings, there were many memories that came flooding back. The dorm I lived in . . . laughter, fun, tears, conversations with friends, all-nighters to finish that paper that was due in the morning, cramming for exams. The house where my dorm mom lived . . . laughter, chocolate nights, turkey dinners, a "home away from home." The chapel . . . great worship, challenging messages, drama productions, Youth Quake mayhem. The academic building . . . challenging classes, lots of studying. The cafeteria . . . decent food for a cafeteria, a table where there's always room for one more no matter how full it already is, theology debates. So many places that hold these memories that go with even though it has been a few years since I graduated.
Being back this time felt a little different. It was still good to be there. But it also reminded me that there are seasons in life. Times when a certain place has a pull. And where lifelong memories aer created. That school is a place I will always love. But, the memories from when I attended there go with me beyond there. They have shaped who I am today. The dorm-mates, the professors, the admin staff I worked with, the people who spoke in chapel, the classmates I worked on projects with and sat in class with, the friends I made who are still friends of mine today . . . they all shaped who I am today. And that is something that is not tied to that place.
Sometimes I wonder if we have a great experience in a place and we become attached to that place - thinking that we need to go there to feel that all again. But, really what happens is that we carry that experience with us from that point on. We can still love to go to that place. We can still have memories that seem that much more poignant when we are there. But, that event, those people, that message goes with us for the rest of our lives. It becomes a part of who we are. It shapes us.
I have been thinking lately about who has played a role in who I am today. And what experiences in my life have played a role in who I am today. The list that keeps growing is surprising to me. Some of the people or experiences coming to mind I had not thought about in years, but looking back I can see how they did play a role in making me who I am today. Not all of the people or memories are positive, but looking back even many of the negative ones have played a role in making me who I am.
What about your life? Who has played a role in making you who you are? What experiences have played a role in making you who you are?
As I have had some of these names come up, I have realized that many of these people probably have no clue about the impact they had in my life. Then I realized that through the technology of today I have a way to contact many of them. And I have been endeavoring to tell them - to let them know that I appreciate their impact in my life.
How about you? Is there someone on your life who you need to let know the impact they made in your life? To thank them for how they helped to shape you to be who you are today?