These past two weeks marked the beginning of my summer working as a camp counselor. This was my tenth year working at camp, and my, oh my, has it been much more than I could have ever imagined. This may be a bit of a long blog post, but it is almost like a journal for me to process and reflect on all of God’s goodness the past two weeks.
This term, I had the joy of serving alongside a dear sweet sister in Christ named Leah. Leah is wonderfully compassionate and gracious, and also encourages me to sit at the feet of Jesus as she leads by example. The girls in my cabin were entering into mostly their last year of middle school and first year of high school. Reflecting back, I believe that I let the fear of what people say about middle schoolers define how I felt about and treated them instead of being guided by the love of Jesus who does not see what the world says, but looks at and loves each of their hearts, a way that I can grow in throughout this summer.
These girls bring tears to my eyes and having them leave today broke my heart just a little for the love that the good Lord has placed in my heart for them. I love their silliness and smiles, their vulnerability and compassion, and the time that I was able to spend getting to know their hearts. I miss them so much already.
Furthermore, I developed a little crush. For too long has my heart longed for a relationship, and God has not delighted in me being pursued by another. This hurt and just like a time before, I feel myself growing a heart of jealousy and bitterness for his affections, and for the adoration and attention of others, the way that I see myself as fit to be loved. I see my broken inability to receive and believe that I really am loved. In the way that lies often seem more pleasing to think on that truth and that in my heart, I very quickly harden and try to protect myself from being hurt by others and lack a love for them for fear of embarrassment and being put to shame.
Yet the Lord has beautifully brought to my heart and constantly reminded me to choose to dwell on what is true, on that He loves me fully and the same always; each and every morning His mercies are new and good and true. He has never stopped loving me and wanting me and choosing me as His Daughter.
“I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say ‘You are my God.’” – Hosea 2:23
Hike Trip and Daisies
God has given me the gift of encouragement, and it was a gift to be able to use that to lead the ten mile bike trip. Our two mottos were first, a call and response of let’s hike, I’m hype and ‘get to,’ which I will certainly get to explaining in just a moment. It is amazing to me just how much a joyful attitude of encouragement can change everything! Throughout the trip, I encouraged the girls not to have an attitude of “do we have to?,” but instead one of getting the opportunity to serve and do our best because of the abilities God has so graciously given us, something the girls ended up challenging me in throughout the term and which I am encouraged to do myself each and every day. The girls on my hike trip were absolutely lovely! The hike was wonderful and God helped me to teach something beautiful and made the girls’ hearts receptive to listen.
During a short snack break in the early afternoon, I saw some bunches of daisies and decided to give them to the girls to keep until the nightly campfire, and prayed that the Lord would give me something to teach them later. That night at the camp fire, I read the verse Isaiah 40:8. God truly came through. Here is what God gave me to teach girls through these daisies:
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:8
Daisies are beautiful just as you and the girls are. Just as our daisies wilted after many hours of being disconnected from their stem, so are we. For a few minutes or hours, maybe the daisies remained similarly beautiful, but the moment they were disconnected from their stem, the death process began. Likewise, the moment we are disconnected from our source of life, our stem who is God, we begin to wilt and wither. He is the One who makes us beautiful and whole. Thankfully, God is able to put us back together when we stray as He is love and always and forever.
These sweet girls filled my heart with such joyous laughter and encouragement as they were vulnerable and deeply loving towards me. Oh how I miss them so and treasure those daisies that remain in my Bible, a wilted and beautiful reminder of the source of my beauty and joy.
Loving Discipline and Dance
This term has been difficult in that many times, the girls were not quick to listen. The lack of obedience amongst the kids brought me to my knees, but then again, that is a very beautiful place to be as the Lord graciously showed me a glimpse of His love for me.
Something beautiful happened in the way that the Lord filled my heart with deep love for the girls. I began to understand what loving discipline looks like and that it has a place and a purpose. Discipline is many times the most loving thing that I can do for these girls because I love them too much to miss out on time to share the Word with them. Telling them to be quiet at night is an act of love because I know their weary and tired bodies and want them to have rest. Asking them to clean up is an act of love because I know it will help them to remain organized and less anxious. In the same way, I began to see a glimpse of the heart of my sweet earthly father and the depth of his love, and that of the leadership here. They do not discipline to hurt me or to put me to shame, but out of love. In order to be corrected and refined, I must be disciplined, and in the same way, God my Father disciplines me because He loves me (Hebrews 12:6). And what a joy to understand that better and receive it humbly with joy that He loves me and wants to refine me so that I may be made more like Him.
Boast in my Weakness
One other beautiful thing that the Lord has been graciously teaching me and continues to help me learn is the beauty of and His call to boast in my weaknesses. This term, I have been slowly going through the book of 2 Corinthians and it has been beautiful. From sharing my story of my struggles with my co-counselor to seeing my anxiety and depression cause many restless moments of terror and panic, the Lord reminded me of my weaknesses, but I also learned something very beautiful and new. One morning did I feel the Lord asking me to share my weaknesses with a friend. After sharing them and doing my very best at vulnerability, she met me with such compassion and reminded me that is not who I am. My identity is not in my anxiety and depression, and my brokenness and sins, but as a Daughter of the King.
There are so very many more things I could talk about: the way the Lord truly answered my prayers in refining me and teaching me (1 Peter), helping me to love those who are difficult or irritating to love, the gift of encouragement and the expression of joy in ways beyond simply smiling, and the definition of joy: hope despite circumstances. As I wait here, tears streaming down my eyes and looking out over the beautiful Que, asking the Lord for help to dwell on truth that I am loved when I just don’t feel worth it or able to receive it, a deepset knowledge fills my heart that it will be okay, and even more very good because in the words of my sweet co:
“God loves not because we are loveable, but because He is love.”