Two years ago I stepped on to the grounds of Piedmont International University a broken shell of a man just looking for a home. Two years later I’m staring at my impending college graduation with fear, joy, and sadness. “Quite the vast array of emotions there, Matty.” I suppose you could say that. Why though? Why so many of the feels?
It’s because I’ve found my home…
And now I have to leave
I’m eight weeks away from my graduation but technically today was the beginning of the end. March 7th, 2016 marked the last day of our Spring Break. That means that we are halfway done with the semester; to put the cherry on top, I play my final college soccer game tomorrow night.
I’m not ready for this.
I’ve wanted to graduate and be on with life for such a long time. I’ve wanted nothing more than to march across the stage, take my diploma, and move on with life. It was the ultimate dream. Ironically, I’m about to get my wish and I want nothing more than to go back to the beginning.
I alluded to my emotional situation when I arrived at Piedmont but I was truly empty. I had recently come crawling out of the darkest year of my life only to find more loneliness. I was a miserable person. I had no friends, I had no visible piece of future, I had no idea of what to do with my life. It was then that my mom told me something I never thought I would hear her say…
“You need to leave”
Geez, thanks mom.
“I hate seeing you like this. I hate seeing you miserable. You have nothing here. Go make a life for yourself.”
I can’t describe to you how difficult it was to make that step. I was complacent in my misery. Sure, I wanted to be free of it all but I didn’t want to make a change. I screwed my life over the first time I left the house, why would I do it again? I knew she was right but oh, how I wished she were wrong.
“Ok, God. If you want me there you’re going to have to get me there ‘cuz I don’t wanna go. If you get me there you’re going to have to keep me there because I’m not going to want to stay.”
That was my prayer. I didn’t know what else to say other than that. I knew something needed to happen but I couldn’t bear the thought of doing it. Needless to say, six months later I was tailing my mom up I-95 towards a new adventure.
We stepped on to the campus, found my room, and unloaded all of my stuff. My mom and her friend left to go to Wal-Mart to grab me a few extra things and as soon as they left I fell into an ocean of tears. “What was I doing here? How am I going to do this? God…” It felt like I was never going to see my mom or family again. She had only gone to Wal-Mart for 10 minutes! It was bad, folks.
I’m sure you can imagine the agony as I watched my mom pull out of the parking lot to head back to Florida. This is the exact reason why I look back now and it has such a profound impact on me. God was (is) faithful to me. He took me out of my pain, out of my hopelessness, and gave me a home full of people to love.
He gave me a home; a family I never deserved.
Now I’m being tasked with doing it all over again.
“Ok, God. Wherever you’re going to take me you’re going to have to get me there ‘cuz I don’t wanna go. Wherever “there” is, you’re going to have to keep me there ‘cuz I’m not gonna wanna stay.”
Man, I’m already an emotional wreck and I still have two months left. My poor girlfriend.
I take the soccer field in less than 18 hours for the final time of my college career. Sure, I may play intramural after this, I don’t know. All I know is that this is the beginning of the end. I’ve poured my sweat, blood, and tears into this game. I’ve broken my body with my brothers for 2 years and here we are. This is the final time that I will step on to that turf with the men who are some of my best friends. This is the final time that I will shed my heart on the field for 40 minutes. This is it.
I don’t know what I’m going to be like tomorrow night. I don’t even know if the other team is going to show up. All I know is that the time will come for me to step on the field and give it my all one more time. I’ll bust every bone in my body to walk away with a win. Even if we don’t happen to capture the W, I’ll walk off of that field with a legacy of pain, growth, and memories with my brothers.
8 weeks later I’ll step on to the stage, accept my diploma, and leave with a legacy of pain, growth, and memories with my brothers and sisters; my family.
God, I’m not ready for this.