Talking the other night with another InterVarsity staff, we came to the topic of leaving college and finding a church. We talked about how InterVarsity alumni leave college longing and searching for a church community that matches the intense community experienced as a student. Many alumni struggle with the fact that Christian community is not the same after college, since churches have a different type of community. (When was the last church you’ve visited that offers a dorm for people to live together?)
What struck me about the conversation was that I feel a similar adjustment occurring in our lives right now. Just like we experienced a change in what community looked like after college and had to adjust to embrace that community, we are experiencing a change in what community (and indeed, life) looks like now that we are back in the US.
One of the difficult facets of our transition to living in Bolivia was the fact that we were still adjusting to living post-college and post-InterVarsity. We were lonely because we moved to a new country, and we were lonely because the community and friendships we had in college were still fresh in our minds. Fast forward three years and we’re in a similar spot. Bolivia is gone and it is sometimes hard be okay with our life here in the US because we still remember vividly what life used to be like.
It’s like we are experiencing Bolivia withdrawals. And for me, they happen at random moments: in church, at the supermarket – really, they can happen anytime, anywhere. Sometimes they hit me for a whole day, other times just for a minute. The most recent was at church when a missionary couple from the Philippines presented a video of their ministry. Instead of seeing images from the Philippines, I saw our church and our friends in Bolivia. It made me sad to think of everyone we left behind.
But already my withdrawal symptoms are getting better. I don’t cry about missing Bolivia anymore. You may see me get sad for a while or become quiet and thoughtful – but the mourning process is progressing and it doesn’t hurt as much to think about the past. I am able to embrace life here without hurting from missing life there. Thinking back to our move to Bolivia, this transition has been much smoother – partially because the world we moved back to was much more familiar than Cochabamba, and partially because we don’t have that deep longing for a community that doesn’t exist in the post-college life we live in.
This doesn’t mean that we will forget Bolivia… that could never happen. But time will dull our memories of Bolivia and the future will give us new memories. I’m looking forward to making those memories.
A little of what I’m missing…