Japan behind me, Japan before me

It’s been about two months since it all happened. The pain for me has faded, but it’s still there. I’m sure it’s still there for them. I guess one of the most painful parts for me about not being able to go now is that it’s one of the only times in my life that I will be able to go to Japan as a student. I wanted to go and study and spend my whole time learning where they are coming from, and to go doing something besides full time work, where I can invest in relationships with Japanese students and be a part of a Japanese community of people my age and, in a way, to just be young in Japan. I am willing to admit that maybe there’s some selfish desire in there, but it’s true. I wanted the chance to be a kid in Japan. And I fear that that chance may have, quite literally, passed right by me, been ripped out of my hands. Though I am able to find glimmers of Japan at restaurants, classes, and college functions, it still seems so much farther away than I thought it’d be by now. People listen to love songs so they can think about the one they love. When my iPod comes across one on shuffle mode I usually skip it. But lately I find that not only am I listening to them, but I also realize that I am thinking of a people, not a person. I’m in love with a nation. And like star-crossed lovers in the movies and books, we are separated and bound away by so much: a continent, an ocean, 13 timezones, and, it seems, at least a year.

But, it’s been two months. It’s all behind me. I look forward and I see another year at Mason, filled with time with familiar family and friends, as well with as pursuing studies about Japan as well as pursuing my lesser-known creative passion for writing and storytelling. (What am I doing now?) I believe in a God who specializes in bringing good out of the bad; light out of the darkness; hope out of the hopelessness; he taught the phoenix how to rise from the ashes. And it is because of that that I believe he will bring good out of this for me. I have absolutely no idea how, as the sting of what was lost is still present, and I have no clue what could replace a year of studying abroad in Japan. I just don’t. But I know that God is good, and God is here, and God is there. And, like some of the songs I’ve recently added to my iPod, I believe that the best is yet to come, that there is a purpose for those who wait, that these past two months haven’t been my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year, that greater things have yet to come in this city, that, ultimately out of these ashes, beauty will rise. And it is knowing this God who is the father of a phoenix we call Jesus that gives me the strength to lay my past pain to rest, to let go of what could have been, and to pursue the future, knowing that it will be good. I will not forget what has happened, and it may hurt sometimes because mourning is a process, and I will always pray for Japan, but I will not miss what will happen. Someday, somehow, God willing, which I’m sure he is, I’ll find a way to Japan, and I’ll be able to love a people I dream about being with. It is with this resolve, in the spirit of the Phoenix, that I turn from Japan behind me to pursue Japan before me.


About Stephen Gabriel Falke

Stephen Gabriel Falke is passionate about loving Jesus and loving Japanese! He grew up in Virginia, America, and first visited Japan in 2007. He then studied abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo for a year in 2012. He also participated in the JET Program as an ALT from 2015-2017. He currently works as an English teacher at Hirosaki Gakuin Seiai Secondary School in Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan.
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