I wander forever,
Walking further from You with every passing second
Ignoring Your voice calling me, over and over,
Saying, “Come home, please come home.”
I don’t turn my head to see You on Your knees,
Pleading & asking me to come back.
In the distance, I can hear You say, “Return to Me, and I will return to You.”
On the way, my heart becomes heavy & weary-
My burdens beat me up;
I can’t handle it anymore,
So I lay down for a while and wait for death.
I lay in wait for so long that I become dry;
Suddenly I feel a tug on my heart;
A little whisper in my ear: “I am going to comfort you again.”
I feel persuaded to head home, where I belong;
I hope to be welcomed back, all the while my heart palpitates furiously.
I open the door, and You make Your way to me,
And I am welcomed with the warmth of Your hugs that I’ve missed for so long.
My safety has never been so reassured-
I’m comforted, just like You said You would comfort me.
My head rests on Your chest, I breathe slowly.
My peace is finally found.
Camp is always an incredible experience- to be in an environment that’s surrounded by supportive people & the grace of the Father; I always learn so much from everyone there. I feel an overwhelming feeling of sadness every time I come home, because I’m suddenly nowhere near the people I love so fiercely. I love how we’re all united in His death & how when we worship together, it gives us a glimpse of what heaven will be like. I started writing this by wondering “what could I even say but ‘I miss them, I miss them, I miss them’“. I miss the warmth that every person gives off; all the love, compassion, and openness that they have to offer a child.
They are my home.
I learned so quickly that in order to get to know people deeper, you have to press on. You can’t just stand to the side and wait. You have to go over and introduce yourself; not everyone has the guts to do it before you do. For me, I was terrified to meet new people, because I don’t have a big mouth. I’m gentle, and quiet. But for me to say that it was impossible to get up and start a conversation, would be a lie. It wasn’t always easy, but it certainly wasn’t hard. I might be quiet, but I’m also brave. Everyone was lovely, I couldn’t even believe it. How can people be so welcoming to me even though I’ve been here nearly 3 hours? Oh yeah, that’s how a family works.
I learned over an over with each child I spoke to, that they have stories that matter very much. Some of them are hurting emotionally, and learning these things rips pieces of my heart off. They’re so precious, and seeing everyone who I worked with interact with them made me melt. Sometimes all we need for them to feel loved is to offer them our time, letting them sit on our lap, or getting our knees dirty with mud in order to get to their level. Love is not something to be taken lightly, and sometimes that means we have to get dirty– that’s what Jesus did.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” -Acts 20:28
I learned that there will be days where I will be running on very few hours of sleep. I will feel worn out. My patience will wear thinner with each passing day. But that doesn’t change the fact that they need me. I’m there at the disposal of Jesus, and the children, and because of that, it will be rewarding. It will be rewarding because He will be happy with me, & His happiness is greater than my discomfort.
I learned very fast that it’s okay to break down in public & not have it all together. Camp is a place where there isn’t much privacy, but that’s where everyone comes in. They break down walls, and upon each other lavish encouragement, love, and hugs. It’s truly incredible. Where I felt belittled, I was met with a word of affirmation. I love how we can all be imperfect, yet still uplift one another.
We need to help each other grow into better versions of ourselves. And if that means being vulnerable & confessing “Yes, I watch you worship & yes, I listen to you pray, and you know what? It’s wonderful“. Because it when we are open like that, and speak even if it’s embarrassing for us to say, we still don’t know who would be touched by that loving gesture. I’m learning that love is embarrassing, and that it means shaky voices, or trembling hands.
Love is offering your towel, pinky promises to not throw you off the dock, cleaning someone else’s wounds, singing Taylor Swift in the car, having people offered to be squished in the backseat because they knew you didn’t want to be alone, inviting you to watch a silly movie to make you feel a little happier, not doing something for the sake of someone else, making an extra cup of tea, helping someone who needs you, offering your personal poetry to read, giving someone your shirt because all theirs are wet, sharing your stories, screaming campfire songs at the top of your lungs & laughing so hard that you can’t continue the song, and silly smiles across the table.
I aim to be a walking encouragement to every person who graces my life with their presence. Camp was a continuous reminder for me of how special people are. Taking the time to get to know them & giving them the opportunity for you to love them more is so important. I’m hoping my friends are continuing to be brave in the shadow of Jesus as this week continues on.
Sidenote: Hopefully you care about my less-than-organized posting schedule as of late, but if you don’t, I completely understand. This post was supposed to posted on the 23, but I bumped it up because I’m going to be at camp!! With some of my favorite people & teaching kids about Jesus!! It was a last second organization, but I am SO excited! I have memory of some of last years training. But I’m also a bit anxious; I know a little over 5 people & I’ll be in a new place, with new rules, where I’ve never met the director or half of the other counselors. Though I’m only going to be gone for a few days, I’m excited to see how God stretches me, but I am nervous (what else is new?). I’m excited to show love to these kids who might not get that love at home. I’m excited to help them have fun, to give them a break.
ONTO THE POST!!
I was struggling & I knew I had to open up to someone. “But who do I go to? Who would want to listen to me talk about my problems? They’re so…mediocre. Everyone goes through issues, right?”, I thought to myself. Of course everyone goes through stuff, it’s an unfortunate part of life; I knew this. But what I didn’t know is that just because someone goes through a difficult time, doesn’t mean that they should keep it to themselves- that’s torturous, dangerous. I have many, many people in my life who deeply care about me & my well being, and they want me to be okay. Those people are my family.
I opened up about many difficult thoughts to someone else. It was extremely hard for me. “Would they hate me? What would they think of me? How would they handle it?” Way too many questions were running through my mind as I contemplated opening up. It must have been hours before I decided to talk about it. Of course they wouldn’t hate me. There’s no way they could think less of me. Oh, the things that we think when we’re in need of help. I worry way too much; probably the worst flaw I have.
You see, I know that being open is important if I want to achieve the realest version of myself within my friendships & the rest of my life. But it’s so difficult (yes, even for an “authenticity-chasing” hipster like myself)! When I put myself out there to be judged, no matter how much I believe I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, I still end up wanting to hide in isolation- but that’s not the way to go. Openness is the way to go.
I stress this almost regularly in my posts (I’m noticing a pattern): Have hard conversations. Force yourself to become as raw as you can be. Don’t fear the uncut version of yourself. There is so much to be learned from being shameless in the expression of emotions. I’m learning this. Most of the time, I learn things over and over. But I’m learning this right now. It’s hard. But it’s worth the community & love that comes from it.
I will be going to camp for a short while, and even though I’ll have a short time with those there, I hope to connect with them, gently hear them out in their struggles, and inspire them to be uncut & honest; there’s nothing more beautiful than that. If there’s anything I want to be in my life, I want to be inspiring & genuine.
9:20pm. I have Criminal Minds on play, and junk food in front of me. My empty pages are next to me. I’m wallowing, and discouraged in every area. Today hasn’t been a good day, and I’m trying to drown it out by focusing on anything other than how horrible my day has been. But first I want to tell you about it, whilst being as vague as I can be, because a) things can get personal & I can spare people the details for once, b) I like vague posting.
I’m lonely. I miss my friends at camp. It’s not fair to say exactly, considering the wonderful friends I have who are here with me. Some people are just closer to me than others, I guess. Every day I’m reminded of the people who are not here with me; I see something interesting & desire to share it with them, but I can’t. They might not be around, but their absence serves as a constant reminder that I can’t easily reach them right now.
I’m discouraged, in more ways than one. I can’t help but think about how little skills I possess. I can help children who miss their families. I can help children who live 2 hours away from their parents. I can sing. I can be silly. I can clean toilets and showers. I can sweep floors. I can encourage people from the sidelines. I can hike without breaking my leg, or sliding down a cliff. I can swim. I can organize children and get them out of a cabin in record time during a fire drill. I can help calm children down. But who wants to hire that?
I’m confused. Something wonderful is in front of me, and for some reason, I can’t bring myself to accept it. This thing is incredible, and I don’t know what to do. I’m very afraid, because if I choose to accept this wonderful thing, my life is great. If I choose to not accept this wonderful thing, it won’t just be my heart that breaks. I’m the most indecisive person in the world. I don’t like having the option between two things, especially if both choices have mediocre outcomes. I’ve never been in this much pain, and I don’t know what to do with this much power; I’m really not used to it. I might screw up. Big time.
I’m burdened. So many things going on at once, and it’s really hard for me to process everything at the same time. It’s insanely overwhelming. I’m standing in front of a giant cork board full of multiple different to-do lists, and I’m just standing there because I feel so stuck. I wish I could get moving, that I wasn’t so sluggish all the time. Life is catching up to me, when all I want to do is run away.
My small bible study group has been looking at the early verses in James 1, and the one that’s been sticking with me & popping up everywhere is “Count it all pure joy.” But I don’t want to count anything as pure joy, because that’s the last thing I feel right now. I feel sad, overwhelmed, ashamed even. But not joy. Not today. But tomorrow is a new day, as is always. So maybe tomorrow.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel a little lighter on my toes. Maybe I’ll feel a little happier, a little more chipper or joyful. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel like dancing, rather than shlumping in bed all day. Maybe tomorrow my eyes will be bright with hope for my future rather than filled to the brim with tears. Maybe I’ll feel less fearful of the future for once. Maybe my joy will be restored. We’ll see. 9:59pm.
A few months ago, my youth group & I went to a campground to unplug from technology (of course, most of us had our phones on us), temporarily forget about all daily distractions (of course, some of us brought schoolwork to study from), and become closer together.
The drive up to where we were staying was filled with anticipation. This was the event of the year for us! Every year it gets better, because we’re even closer with each other! This means more inside jokes, more time together, more memories to be made. It always feels so good to be with my dear family in a place where there’s nothing to distract us from getting to know each other better.
We got settled in & chaos began (it wasn’t that chaotic- a lot of us went to sleep right away). Late to bed, early to rise! The next morning I woke up early to read my bible, and joined a friend who was doing the same thing. As soon as I seated myself, we started the coffee, and thus began the endless caffeinated spiral of death. Jokes aside, that coffee was really good.
Saturday was quite the day, as is always! We went for a walk in the woods. I love looking at all the scenery by the trails, because nature is so gorgeous to look at! Not to mention how it quickly turned into a group photoshoot, because almost everyone had a camera on them. Eventually, we came to a stream & had to cross it. Literally everyone had their rainboots but me. So I did what any other normal version of me would do: I took off my socks, and my shoes, rolled up my jeans, and walked it. The water was freezing, but I am a brave one.
Saturday is usually the day that tires us all out from all the activities: 9 square, hiking, trampoline jumping, games, and just hanging out in the sun. Usually I need a really intense power nap in the middle of the afternoon because I get up so early in the morning to read the stuff God has to say to me (I wouldn’t have the energy to do it early elsewhere). So I went to take a nap in the place where we would have worship & our pastor dude speak. Trying to rest on a makeshift bed of chairs is hard. I heard my friend in the midst of writing a new worship song, and it was wonderful (as per usual).
Later that evening, we held our worship & message. For some reason, it’s always Saturday evening where we expect God to move, but He can move whenever He wants. Regardless, it was truly lovely. Everyone was so in tune with the Spirit of God in their own way. With less musicians than the year before, it was less grandiose, but it remained a humble gathering, as it should always be. We even got a chance to do the song that was written hours prior! It was such a sweet time, so much so that I didn’t want to go to sleep when I got back! So I stayed up with one of my girls & we talked for a while. Then we went to bed.
The next morning we packed up our things & got all ready to head home. But of course, our time together was not fully spent! The was still worship to be had, a message to be heard, and company yet to be shared. I woke up at around 5am to read downstairs. It was good (even if I forgot to close the windows before going to sleep, therefore the whole place with freezing). I was able to share what I had read with a friend & we had great conversation before breakfast.
The rest of the day went by super quickly & soon enough we were all back home. I was exhausted, and I’m sure everyone else was as well! I had so much fun with everybody, and it was such a chill weekend! The memories are with me fondly.
It’s only been a week that most of my friends have gone to camp & elsewhere for their summer endeavors, and I miss them more than I have since they left. This past week has been difficult for me, realizing the lack of communication between my friends & I (camp reception is tops). I’ve noticed that we share the same desires: community. Over this past year, we’ve created this community that is close-knit &full of grace. My community is elsewhere as I type. It’s a weird feeling not being able to see them as often as I’m used to. I miss the communication- the desire for bigger & better things, the desire for growth & helping each other grow. I just miss them.
I remember a conversation that a friend & I had around this time last year. He was afraid that things would change once we all came from camp in August. I reassured him that we’d only get closer (which we eventually did). I’m now in his position, ever fearful that the people I’ve grown to cherish more & more each day would grow closer over the summer, only leaving me to wonder what it would be like if I had gone to camp with them.
However, I was also thinking upon how my group of friends has flourished over the last year. I focused on the fact that we’re always going out of our way to ask about each others’ days, or simply asking if we’re down for a coffee chat. It’s wonderful to have people in your life who genuinely care. I’m extremelyblessed by their presence in my life.
My friends are serving at camp, where they will be telling kids about Jesus. I am here, hoping to meet new kids as they come to youth group this summer. This month is about intention, so intentional I will be; always reaching out, always keeping the lines of communication open.
Therefore I’ll write letter after letter, expressing my worries in hopes that I will get a response filled with reassurance. I will pray & strive for a closeness that is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. I’m hoping this isn’t a test of the friendship we’ve based on mutual respect & grace, but a stronger bond that will form. Hopefully my worries will be put to rest.