farewell, fayetteville.

I think most of us that come to this town wonder what we ever did to deserve it. It is fun and funky in all the best ways. The food is great, the coffee is even better, and the people are as sweet as those unforgettable blueberry donuts from Rick’s Bakery. I feel that I’ve said bye to the same people at least 7 times in the past month, but it hasn’t changed how hard it’ll be to get in my car and drive through the Ozarks one last time.

I couldn’t come up with a way to sum up these last four years, so I thought I’d just share with you what’s on my mind as I get ready to leave.

I wasn’t sure what this year would bring, but I prayed for joy. I felt like it had escaped me over the years and it went missing somewhere in my wounded, little heart. I didn’t pray with much confidence that it would be given to me, but I asked for it anyway, earnestly and humbly hoping that maybe something would change in my life.

Months went by and I often wonder if joy meant having nothing to complain about or just the absence of suffering all together. I felt lighter this year, happier in a lot of ways, but whatever turmoil I tried to forget about kept spinning inside me.

As summer turned into fall and fall into winter (kind of), my life really slowed down and I really started feeling like my fake idea of joy was starting to fade away.

Maybe it was the little square of cheesecake I had before I left a Christmas party the other night or the conversation I had with people I wish I became friends with sooner, but as I was driving home it was as if joy had finally taken it’s rightful place in my heart. Only this time, it was anchored by something that couldn’t be removed.

I realized joy comes from the assurance of knowing that we are loved.

I think sometimes we’re quick to believe that joy can be found somewhere else. Like it exists in a different place other than right here. And while I think traveling is a beautiful thing and can be used for unimaginably good ways, no place “out there” has what you’re looking for.

I thought about these things as I packed up the rest of my stuff this past week and reflected on the journey I went on while living in Fayetteville.  It feels too good to be true, but I never expected this time of my life to end with a song of victory–of redeeming love. It just makes it even harder for me to accept that things are going be different again.

In just a short month I’ll be on my way to South America and serving in the Peace Corps for the next two years. Holy freaking cow.

More details about all of that are soon to follow, but until then, I’m going to take my time to say my bittersweet goodbyes and enjoy what time I have left with my loved ones.

Farewell, fayetteville ❤

Love always,

Mel

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