project NYC: transitioning.

Four weeks ago today, I sat in a room filled with strangers and introduced myself and talked about how excited I was to be in New York City. We asked each other the typical questions: “What school do you go to?” “Are you excited to finally be here?” “Have you ever been to the city before?” In those moments, I never knew that I would sit in a room with the same people just four weeks later and see them as some of my closest friends.

We had our project debriefing today, and in it we took the time to discuss our experience these past few weeks. Our group became loud as we all talked over each other, looking at different individuals and saying, “Oh, and remember that time when…?” Somewhere along the way, our conversations evolved from who we were as individuals to what we were able to do as a group, which I think actually made us more ourselves than ever before. And after allowing my true self to be exposed and experiencing a community that saw me for everything I want to be, it was hard to hear the Cru staff prepare us to “transition” out of project and back into the real world. I had heard several people throughout this past week discuss how sad they were that our last days in the city were becoming a reality, and honestly during those times I was just thinking about how excited I was to go home and see my family. But as we sat in the Cru office today and most of the staff had left for the day, all I could hear ringing in the back of my head was that word “transition.” And suddenly it hit me: this is the end.

I only have 2 days left in this city, with these people, on this project. And when I think about that, my mind starts racing because on top of the sadness that comes with departure, I am returning to my real life with real problems, and I’m returning to a group of people who haven’t been radically changed by this project in this city. If you remember one of my first posts from this project, I said that I felt like God was calling me to walk away from situations at home and to let Him work without my unnecessary oversight. It was a challenge then for me to give up control, and it’s a challenge now for me to say, “okay God, now what?” and truly be content with whatever answer He gives me. It’s funny how the Lord works, because He had to remove one of my greatest crutches to get me to come on project — now it is project that has become my crutch, and He’s sending me back home.

But in the midst of a city in which I think a lot of people have come to in hopes of escaping their problems, God has called me to take on a different world view, and it’s because of His will that I’ll go back to North Carolina ready to face whatever challenges are ahead. My original prayer before coming on this project was that God would give me no other option but to depend on Him, and that involves taking away the things that I so easily begin to use as crutches when He has the power to make me walk with strength and dignity.

Knowing all of this doesn’t make the fact that I only have 2 days left any easier to handle, but it reminds me that God is good and He is faithful. My friends and I have packed our day full tomorrow in hopes that it will distract us from the reality of the end of project, but I know that the time for goodbye will eventually come, and in that moment I’ll have to remember that God is greater than comfort, companionship, and even the best of community — those are all gifts from Him, but they were never meant to compete with Him.

Today as we closed our debriefing session, one of the staff prayed for us and he said, “God, remind these students that they’re going back to real life — their life.” These past few weeks have been great and filled with purpose, but it’s time to get back to my life. And whatever the Lord has waiting for me back home, I pray that I approach it just as intentionally.

“God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows.”

-Tim Keller

Lastly, here’s a few pictures to close off this post!

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