Today I leave Dallas.
The three years I lived here weren’t especially fancy. I arrived a 24-year-old, and now I am 27. I graduated from seminary with a Master’s in Biblical Counseling. I traveled to three new states. I got a tattoo.
But the most significant memories are subtler. I lived with six women who taught me, laughed with me, and let me rant about gender roles in the church. I nannied two children who adored my silliness. I learned from professors who deepened my understanding of my identity as person made in the image of God. I attended a church that taught me to depend upon weekly Communion and the grace of God.
I think, though, that the biggest change that has happened in Dallas has been my emotional growth due to my time spent in counseling. I attended 20 individual sessions, and my primary goal was to learn to be vulnerable, especially when it came to showing sadness and anger. I grew a lot during those sessions, but mostly I intellectualized myself away from really sharing how I felt. I never cried in front of my counselor.
I attended 8 group counseling sessions, and my world broke open. I opened up about some really hard feelings, cried (and apologized for crying) in front of my peers, and heard, “Before, I just thought you were ‘nice,’ but I didn’t really know you. Now you’re a real person. I like you more because you let yourself cry.” That was the first time I cried in front of someone since high school, I think.
Yesterday, my church commissioned me for my time in Greece. Our elders laid hands and prayed for me and several other men and women going on mission trips. I hugged my church family goodbye, and immediately teared up. “I didn’t want to cry!” I said. The person I hugged happened to be a counselor. “Why don’t you want to cry?” he asked. “No, don’t do that!” Another friend came up and hugged me. She’s tall, so I got to bury my face in her shoulder and sob a little. And she’s emotionally healthy, so she cried with me. When we made watery eye contact, she told me, “Your tears are precious.”
I cried a lot yesterday. I said goodbye to dear friends that I consider family. I ate, laughed, and hugged. And now I’m leaving. But my tears are precious, because they mean that Dallas mattered. I had so much fun here. I’ll miss this place, and my time here, deeply. And I’ll be back.