The Prodigal Daughter
I used to think I related more to the older son in the parable of the lost son: faithful and obedient to the Lord. Now I am beginning to see much more of the lost son in myself, longing for and receiving the gracious embrace of my sweet Father’s abundant love.
This term at summer camp, I grew deeply and wholly weary, and struggled to love my girls well in the beginning. Tired and worn out from the past term of loving and serving, with my heart still aching for the girls from my previous cabin, it was difficult to pour out to this new cabin. Many times I failed to love them well, choosing naps instead of conversations, and being quick to be firm over mourning with these girls in their hurts and showing them the loving compassion that God shows me each and every day.
Yet the Lord used me anyways. Two sweet little girls came to know the Lord, the most precious time and moment as the Spirit reminded me that the angels were celebrating their adoption into the family of God. What a joy that even in my disobedience to the Lord and lack of love in trying to do things in my own strength and my failure to love well in my brokenness, He embraced me in His love and allowed me anyways to be a part of the entering in of these sweet girls into His family.
A Little Boy Named Quinn
The other day at the slab, a group of young boys and girls gathered around to play games. With the mix of boys and girls, and my concerns about the kids excluding someone, I jumped in and played with them a game I like to call the circle game. We ask each other questions and listen to one another’s answers. The boys found it pretty funny, and I delighted in their silliness and laughter.
A little while after, they began playing knockout, and so I faithfully followed. This is where the chaos began. Boys and girls kept hanging on and climbing up the basketball hoops, and my frantic pleas for them to stop and get down only seemed to fuel their disobedience and my exhaustion… yet I still loved them.
A little while later, I spoke with their counselors about how wild they were. They told me the conversation really helped, I had been and am praying for them. I really wanted them to know my forgiveness and love for them.
A coupe of days passed, and I ran into one of the little boys: Quinn. When I saw him, the biggest smile flooded from my heart to my face because I wanted so much for him to know that he was loved, almost like a little brother to me.
Something Quinn said stood out to me a lot: he said he was sorry for the other day. More than anything did I want to embrace him in a hug and for him to know my forgiveness, to laugh and smile with him again, that he would know that he was loved.
I believe that God gave me those feelings for a reason, as a picture to illustrate His love for us; for me. Just like Quinn, many times do I disobey over and over again. But even in the midst of iniquity, repeated sin, the Lord’s steadfast, abounding love remains. He longs for me to repent that times of refreshing may come (Acts 3:19). He yearns for our relationship to be restored to one of fearful obedience that we may faithfully follow, and also one of joyous laughter and beauty.
Quinn never had to apologize for me to continue to show and have God’s love for him in my heart I still love the other boys never apologize for me to continue to show and have God’s love for him in my heart; I still love the other boys who never apologized to me just as much and pray for them, making an effort to help them to know the love of the Father. But Quinn has a special place in my heart for helping me to see just how God loves me and longs for my heart because of His unconditional love. That is the beauty of hesed: the faithful, staying love that lives out its covenant promise to love us each and every day (Lamentations 3:21-23).
Something I learned this summer is to rejoice in the little victories; the few hours without tears of homesickness and the little realizations campers have about the Lord. May I have a grateful heart for the blessings of being here and taken care of, in good health and safety, surrounded by the beauty of the Lord; always reminded to be thankful for the many good gifts the Father has given.
Earning Love: My Dysfunctional Heart
Here is tearing back a layer of my heart. This term truly made me more aware of a side effect of my depression and my broken heart: there is a dysfunction in my heart that makes it most difficult to receive love and believe that they really mean it when they say that I am worth loving. The love that comes from others never seems to ring true in my heart, but oh my dearest Lord may it abound as the fullest source from You that I lack nothing, and pour out from the abundance that You have placed within me.
The other day, my Bible study leader asked me more about my past year and struggles with mental illness; opening up again always reminds me just how broken I am and how much I need Jesus. Let others help you and trust; set your words free to the perception of others are two phrases that come to mind of lessons I learned from my conversation.
First, I need to let others help me in my struggles. I cannot do this on my own: the fresh, hot tears that often arise out of deep anxiety, my fears that I am not enough or loved, and my deepset brokenness. Secondly, I need to not be afraid of what others say, I need to trust that the Lord’s love is enough for me and that when I am following Him, that is all that truly matters. May I trust others with my brokenness and be vulnerable even in the possibility of rejection.
These are many of the wonderful things the Lord has taught me this term, may He continue to teach me and you through this summer.