Summer camps are done for me. I love this part of my life so this is always a sleepy (I may be the oldest camp speaker out there!) and sad time of transition for me.
My camp theme for this summer was received well—very well by some of the faces I saw as I taught and faces I saw as we talked. May these wonderful teens not contort Jesus into something false just to make sense of a temporary situation and may these wonderful teens not contort themselves to find love—often a temporary love.
During a staff meeting at one camp I was given brief overviews of the campers. One cabin staff of young teen boys said that only one of the boys in the cabin mentioned having a girlfriend. The rest of the boys seemed to still be at that awkward yet wonderful boys stage. But it was this same boy who also opened up his suitcase to unpack and to his horror realized he forgot to pack underwear for the week. So we made a new rule for dating: You cannot have a girlfriend if you don’t pack underwear for camp.
This rule could “teach” in so many ways.
Taxes, leather briefcase, slurping coffee grounds out of a faded travel mug. Bitchy bosses and long meetings. Cubicles. A framed picture of the family propped up next to a bowl of peppermints. Working 12-hour days and coming home grumpy. Trying to remember anniversaries. Signing forms, paying bills, waiting for Friday to come around. Armchair with food crumbs and Kool-Aid stains. Listening to screeching violin practicing after an annoying day at the office. Trying to get on the treadmill every once in a while. Weight Watchers frozen dinners. Reluctantly giving up a few minutes of peace and quiet for a neighborhood barbecue.
Minivan with a “I love my honor student” bumper sticker, corny “Parent MVP” tee shirt from the middle daughter’s elementary school band fundraiser. PTA meetings, community bake sales, watching the little one’s painfully terrible soccer games. Helping the oldest settle into his first day of middle school. Getting concerned calls from English teachers–”your son’s poetry was distressing.” Cooking soupy casseroles, staying up late finishing laundry, phone ringing constantly. Homeowner’s association, chit-chat with the neighbors. Mopping up vomit, trips to the doctor, band-aids, tissues, cough syrup.
“It’s a great movie.”
“I thought you wrote about it already.”
“There’s more to say. I’m thinking about writing a tetralogy.”
“A four-part series. Like Shakespeare’s King Henry plays.”
“Don’t do that.”
“So what do I do?”
“Sigh. Okay, what do you want to write about?”
“Did you just say the word ‘sigh’?”
“Tell me about your stupid fish. I have to get to class soon.”
“Well, we talked about the theme of trust already.”
“Marlin thinks that being controlling and overprotective will preserve what he has, but it actually drives his son to rebellion.”
He touched the butt.
“Heh, yeah. The butt scene.”
But then there’s the theme of baptism.”
“Yeah. See, in fiction, when a character gets submerged and comes back up, it’s usually symbolic of them starting a new life.”
Again, I blame this book.
“But it’s a fish movie. They’re all underwater.”
“Right, so the whole thing’s inverted. When Nemo’s taken from the water, his life begins anew in the orthodontist’s office.”
Honey, your dad’s still probably at the pet store.
How much would I give up in order to glorify God?
This is the question I’ve been wondering about. All throughout the summer, I will be destroying my comfort zone. No, not just leaving it–but destroying it. If I am at the bank of a creek, and these next few months are about using stepping stones to get across, the stepping stones are becoming smaller and further apart. I fear I will fall in.
It started with VBS. Working directly with children. That was uncomfortable, but I did it. I got through one week, and I will get through the others. I’m not terrible with kids, as I previously thought. I gave up some of my comfort to help glorify God. Next is camp. I’ll be working at an overnight camp in August. That’s unnerving for me. I won’t have the luxury of my own bed after a long day like I can have after the few hours I work at VBS.
Finally, the mission trip. I’ll be departing on Sunday for five days. I might just bag out on this one. I’ll be so out of my element that I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it. Why:
First off, none of my closest friends were able to come. Even within my own youth group, I’ll be with people I don’t know as well. In addition, we’ll be working with other youth groups. That’s not something I’ve done on the previous four times I’ve been on a mission trip. We’re even going to a completely different place this time–so I’m completely clueless! Even worse, we’ll have to be sharing quarters with other youth groups because of space. There will be no AC. We have to bring bathing suits, because the showers won’t have stalls. All of this combined is terribly overwhelming for me. I feel like I’ll be lost. Less familiarity. Fewer amenities. Less privacy.
Allow me to go on a tangent. My privacy is actually important to me. People closest to me tend to overlook this. Because around my most cherished friends, I’m exuberant. Lively, talkative, full of ideas. I guess they assume I’m always like that. But what they don’t understand is that after being with them, I can go home and sit on the corner of my couch with my computer. What they don’t understand is that being with them is the exception to the rule. I’m not exuberant around those not close to me. I’m not “illumined” by those not close to me. On this trip, I’m going to be surrounded by new people, new places, and new tasks. I’ll need my space to get away from it all, especially in such a scary and exhausting situation, but I don’t think I can get that there. Continue reading
The selfie stick gives us yet another reason to remove ourselves from people-to-people contact. Now we don’t have to ask that stranger to take that photo of us.
We have never before been so socially-exposed without having contact with real people.