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.