What's been holding me back? Guess for one thing, I've been trying to wait patiently on God to show me what He wants of me. I've been striving to trust in Him rather than trust in myself. And it so happens that maybe that patience has begun to pay off, as some considerable opportunity has arisen and the more I think and pray about it, the more I'm feeling led to follow it however far away it might be.
The other thing that's been keeping me here are the people that I love and care about the most.
In spite of how rough the past good many years have been, I can't help but feel like the luckiest guy on this Earth, for all of the people that God has blessed my life with. He has given me the best friends that I can possibly imagine. And I am extremely thankful to have a family that is so... well... unique! And I like to think that wherever I am preparing to go to, that I will be taking with me all the good things that they have shown me.
But it's going to be hard, to be that far away from the people that I love so much. The people who have given me so much more encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom than I could possibly convey how grateful I am for having them in my life.
People like Uncle Wayne...
John Wayne Roberts was one of the first people that I can remember knowing about. Guess it has to do with how close Mom's family has always been, and how she and Wayne pretty much grew up together. And also how Uncle Wayne's daughter and I were the closest in age to each other among everyone in the extended Roberts clan.
But I also think that it has to do with the fact that Uncle Wayne seemed to be everywhere. He was definitely the "go-to guy" in the family, for good reason. His talents ran the gamut from accounting, to managing, to cooking (and I even vaguely remember him working as a meat slicer at a local grocery store). Whenever anyone had a problem, Uncle Wayne was the ever reliable fount of intellect and experience that could be drawn from.
Uncle Wayne was the first person in the entire family to own a personal computer... and a modem! Think it ran at 300 baud blazing speed, or something. Guess you could say that he was a real technophile. Uncle Wayne was also the one who first got my grandmother hooked up with cable television: for all the movies that it brought into her living room that she enjoyed watching, I will always be grateful for his doing that for her.
Uncle Wayne was a man who followed Christ. And he walked the walk as best as anyone has that I've ever known. There was a quality about him that spoke volumes of his grace-filled life. In his younger years Uncle Wayne went on a number of mission trips, including one to build a church in Haiti. He was an active member of his congregation. But it was his day to day demeanor that was his greatest testimony. Uncle Wayne was a kind, gentle and humble man who saw each person as worth loving. Uncle Wayne fought many hard battles over the course of his life... but he never complained about them. I've no doubt that it was because he was too busy praying for those who were fighting even harder battles than he.
We didn't know that he was fighting one last struggle. He kept it quietly to himself. The last time I saw him was a month ago, and if anyone had told me that he was in such ill health, I would never have believed it. Uncle Wayne was doing even then what I had always seen him do most: being there for others.
Two weeks ago, Uncle Wayne passed away.
He leaves behind his wonderful wife Deborah and two daughters, Heather and Meggan. And many people - both family and friends - who loved him so very much.
And I cannot but thank God for putting Uncle Wayne into my life, because I am a far better person for having him as not only an uncle, but a mentor and close friend.
The last time that I saw him, I shared with Uncle Wayne about the opportunity that had been put before me. He counseled me to go for it. I told him that I didn't want to leave behind people like my family. People like him. Uncle Wayne reminded me not to be afraid, because the Lord has directed us and would be with me no matter what.
It's the strangest thing, but as saddened as I've been about losing Uncle Wayne, I've found it hard to shed a tear for his passing. Maybe it's because I know more than ever before that this world isn't all there is. And that the Lord was with Uncle Wayne and that he is in a far better place now.
This isn't goodbye. Not at all. This is just "so long" for now.
And now it's time to remember Uncle Wayne in the best way that I know how: to share the best things that he gave me with others in the scope of the larger world.
When you think about it, there's not many better memorials to those that we love than that!