This past weekend, my roommate and I went to my coworker’s house for a scrapbooking day. Call me corny, but I love scrapbooking–it’s a way for me to remember all of the phenomenal experiences I’ve been blessed to have. I’m not a phenomenal scrapbooker and don’t go all out, but there’s something sacred about putting a picture on a page and memorializing it.
My coworker and roommate were looking through my life scrapbook. By the time we flipped to my college years, it was fun to hear my roommate go, “Hey look, it’s me!” We’ve been friends since freshman year of college. “I like seeing where I appear in cross-sections of your life,” she said later.
As I thought about how so many of the people who are important to me reappear in random places, I was reminded again how blessed I am to have sustained relationships with so many people across the globe.
But I also realized that sometime it doesn’t take cool stories to have a meaningful life.
A few weeks ago I got a card in the mail from a friend who’s baby shower I’d attended a couple of weeks previously. She’s a friend I met while I was student teaching, and somehow kept in touch with after I moved to North Carolina and made an effort to see every time I came back up to visit. I was flattered when I read in the card that she felt I’d become one of the closest friends she has.
As a TCK, I tend to measure my life by travel, countries, and cool stories (how many other people can say that they’ve lived in a 700 year old monastery??). These are the stories that make people ooh and ahh around the table, and give you cool points in a social gathering.
But realizing the impact that simply being present in a location for a year can have made me realize that life’s value extends far beyond where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Life’s value also comes from the relationships that are built. When you’re building them, it doesn’t always feel like you’re doing much. They don’t always come with cool stories that start with, “That time I was in Thailand.” But they mean that people matter.
I almost moved abroad again this year. I think I would have had a lovely time in Turkey if I had. But I also think I would have missed out on some meaningful relationships from this year. And for those relationships, I’ll be forever grateful.