I suppose it’s inevitable when you get to the end of a season of life not to look back and notice all the things you wish you’d done differently. We go through life learning, making mistakes, becoming better people because of those mistakes, but that doesn’t help relieve the pain those mistakes caused. Such is life. As I finish this season of living overseas I can’t help but to take a mental catalogue of my two years and see the mistakes I made, choices and attitudes, successes and failures. I wonder how many wasted opportunities to make friends, practice my Spanish, or simply love someone well are part of these two years. Why is it that when we find ourselves in a situation where we can chose the comfortable route or the needed route, we so often chose what is comfortable?
I celebrated my 25th birthday this past Sunday, and since it was also my last day in Tarma, my birthday was paired with my despedida (going-away party). It was a lovely evening of seeing friends and contacts one last time, laughing and enjoying food together. I was humbled by the number of people who showed up to tell me goodbye. People that I’ve spent these past years trying to encourage to read the Bible, learn to love Jesus, and participate in our ministry. People whom I taught English to, and who have taught me Spanish, people with whom I lived my life in Tarma. I was humbled because as all these people took their turn telling me goodbye I realized how I had failed to love them well. I can justify my overall attitude and behavior in Peru by the circumstances that brought me here and the circumstances that divided my attention between my life here and my life at home, but in the end, aren’t the strong of heart expected to go above and beyond their circumstances? I wonder if I just accepted them and managed to live as best I could with them. I said goodbye to Tarma thinking about my list of things I would have done differently. On the top of that list would be to have invested myself and loved these people more. I’m sure I loved them fine, and sufficiently, but I could have loved them better, dying to self and loving them in a way that no one else has loved them.
So what do you do when you end a season of life with a long list of regrets? I suppose you tack that list to your mental bulletin board and vow to learn from your mistakes and make your future better because of them. I suppose at this point, 5 days away from returning to my own home and own culture, that is all that I can do.