As I’ve been thinking about how exciting it is that Christmas break is only a few days away, I’ve also been thinking about how different it will be this year. A new house with new neighbors, a new church’s Christmas Eve service, a new balcony to look over when we wake up.
What is that they say about not realizing what you have until it’s gone? I didn’t really realize Acworth, Georgia was my home until I left for Wheaton. I didn’t realize that I truly loved Acworth, Georgia until we left.
I miss the Starbucks and Waffle House at the crossroads. I miss cramming the whole youth group around one of the tables, whether there was five or twenty-five of us. I miss rainy days of discipleship in Starbucks. I miss picking up my brother from Tae-Kwon-Do in that parking lot. I miss the feeling of knowing I would see someone I knew, probably from dance or our old church (and knowing it would be awkward).
I miss cheap movies at NGC and then trading in our tickets for Chick-Fil-A afterwards. I miss stopping at the best Target in the world beforehand. I miss using my sister’s big purse to sneak sparkling waters into the theater. I miss adventures and people watching in Walmart, Kroger, and the Goodwill on 41.
I miss driving with the windows down (back when they all worked) through familiar backroads. I miss the roads that my dad taught me to drive on when I was fifteen. I miss the highways that I cried when I had to drive on them by myself for the first time. I miss passing the Varsity, knowing I only had a little further to go before I was through the Atlanta traffic.
I miss how close it was to drive to my grandparents or aunt and uncles house. I miss making the drive to Clemson and listening to my parents chant “hold your tiger” on car rides where we had to go to the bathroom. I miss laughing about whether or not the “woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo-hoo” should be in the Clemson fight song. I miss car rides to Chattanooga or Savannah, which weren’t long enough to make my parents resort to 80’s music.
I miss the kids I used to babysit and showing up at familiar houses. I miss taking them to Petland because they would beg me and, let’s be real, I wanted to hold puppies too. I miss driving to friend’s houses because they just lived around the corner. I miss hanging out at the neighborhood pools all summer because it was 8 million degrees and that was all there was to do.
I miss Vintage242 and the family that I left there. I miss letting Harvest lead me in worship and giving Summer, Lane, Melanie, Randel, and Shelley hugs on Sunday mornings. I miss staying later than everyone else because my parents won’t stop talking. I miss laughing about how everyone went to Los Magueys after service, even though they failed the health inspection. I miss teaching in the Village and getting to hang out with the middle schoolers on Sunday nights. I miss my Camp Adventure kids.
I miss going in to our house with the squeaky screen door that was always broken and slammed shut. I miss walking into the kitchen and always seeing my mom in there. I miss my dad yelling at us (nicely) to be quiet when he was working from home. I miss convincing my mom to watch a movie with us in the basement on Friday nights (usually a horse movie that my dad picked out). I miss climbing up on my mom and dad’s bed on weekend mornings and just talking to them about life. I miss the driveway where we learned to ride bikes and the cul-de-sac that we would sled down the few times it got icy. I miss the jack-and-jill bathroom that my siblings and I always forgot to clean. I miss people always walking in the side door because they were never locked and anyone was always welcome.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Illinois. I love Wheaton and exploring River Forest. I wrote a reflection recently for one of my classes about what I’m learning about what home truly means. This post isn’t about that. This post is a reminder for me to celebrate and embrace what I have in the moment.
The thing is, Acworth, Georgia isn’t the greatest place in the world. There really isn’t a whole lot to do and I’ve seen more brokenness there than I ever thought possible for a middle class, southern suburb. I had ample things to complain about in the seventeen years I lived there. We had neighbors that shot off fireworks at 3am and had dogs that barked constantly. There were so many nights of babysitting where I held a screaming child for hours and vowed that I would never have kids. There were days where I felt stuck in my small little town, feeling like no one understood what it meant to love Jesus wholeheartedly and give up everything to love His people. Yet, despite all it’s quirks and flaws and frustrations, there are so many things about Acworth, Georgia that shaped the memories of my childhood. There are so many things about that place and the people there that made me who I am.
I’m reminded today to meet Jesus where I am and to love the place He has planted me.