It hurts to think about leaving Asbury. I can quite literally feel it in my chest when I think about it. And that’s weird, because I never planned on coming here. It is the most random thing that has happened to me my entire life. I’ve always lived in the same house. With three older brothers, I’ve never had a little sibling upset a family dynamic. Same church, same school district, same group of friends. When I had to start looking for colleges, I was overwhelmed.

I hate making decisions. Anyone who knows me also knows that. I do lots of things to avoid decisions, like wearing only a quarter of the clothes I own, listening to the same songs on repeat for weeks, and always ordering the chicken. All I knew was that I wanted to pursue graphic design, so when I heard about a school where one of the cool kids from my youth group (ahem Bayly Shelley) was a freshman pursuing graphic design, I figured I should at least check it out. My parents and I came to visit Asbury on an awkwardly warm and rainy December day (which I now understand), and while sitting in Hughes Auditorium during what I later heard was the most moving chapel of the semester, I knew Asbury was where I was supposed to be. So I pretty abruptly stopped looking at other schools, applied, got accepted and moved to Kentucky.

I came to question that sudden knowledge when things got hectic my freshman year—whether it really was where God meant me to end up, or if I had created an excuse for myself not to have to make the decision. However, I believe God’s will for us interacts with our free will so deeply that in my choosing Asbury, He made it the place I needed. Asbury became a second home for me and I connected with new friends in such an intense way that I am forced to leave pieces of myself here, scattered all over Lexington.

When I try to imagine going home without those pieces, I feel that sharp pressure in my chest again, a spreading warmth behind my eyes, and I fear disconnectedness. I fear life pulling me and my friends apart, whether we like it or not, physically and emotionally. For four years, it’s been practically effortless to see my friends every day—something I’ve taken for granted. I lived with some of my best friends and got to go home to them every night. (Rachel Blandford, Vada Bennett, Rachel Boles, Anne Haley Pendleton and Melissa Wagner: thank you for still loving me despite the insane amount of alarms it takes to wake me up in the morning.) Brotherhood always sits at the same table at the same time for every meal (and they let me join them—thanks for having me, guys). Every Thursday I get to lock up the library with the one and only Austin Howard (R.I.P. the original Thursday Night Closing Crew). Every Monday I get to collaborate with the incredibly hardworking and hilariously punny Collegian staff. And I look forward to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday because I get to worship in Hughes Auditorium, surrounded by the rest of campus. But we’re getting close to single digits of days until I move back in with my parents, 396 miles away, where I’ll have to settle for text messages, phone calls and social media to stay updated on my friends’ lives, the occasional wedding drawing us back together for a weekend that will end seemingly before it began.

As graduation looms closer than we’d wish, we start seeing our various “lasts.” My last class with that favorite professor, my last chapel in that beloved aisle seat (P13), my last Highbridge, my last Spicy Chicken Thursday (it’s coming up, Doug… please don’t overcook those patties).

If we start thinking about what we wish we’d done, places we haven’t been, people we haven’t gotten to know (my fault, Dr. Strait), we’ll be hindered from full appreciation of what’s next. Confident in the wisdom and peace that God has graciously given us, we must look toward things we still get to do, places we get to see and people we will get to know.

Sorry, guys, getting sappy wasn’t the plan. But for a place I didn’t even know existed in a state I never thought I’d end up in, I found amazing love, exponential personal growth and a relentless God. And for that, I’d give up all the spicy chicken in the world.