At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a blog post about how escaping our comfortable, self-made boundaries is exactly what we need to remind us of God's goodness in all circumstances.
I stand by every word of what I said, but in my reflection of camp, I have come to know a much deeper, fuller, and richer truth about finding God in the midst of discomfort--he provides comfort.
I'm not saying He gives you your ideal circumstances right off the bat, instantly. It takes time, like carving a face in solid rock: strenuous and frustrating and time-consuming. You've got to bear down and ask for strength in those hard months. You've got to ask God to help you find beauty in those little things that you may have never noticed if you were caught up in being seen and being known.
My summer at camp was like a slow unfurling of the innermost layers of my heart, in the sense that I felt real. I felt raw. I felt seen and known not because of how I looked or what I was wearing or who I was dating or what sorority I was in-- I felt known because I was there.
The world tells us we have to do more than just show up in order to receive recognition. We have to do our part. We have to earn it, we have to strive for it. We have to look better, be better, do better than the competition. That's what it takes to earn affection. And it hurts. I know because I've felt the personal burn of rejection to so many different degrees. I've been turned down by guys and passed up as a friend, cut by sororities and waited by mailboxes for letters with a first line that sound a lot like: "We appreciate your interest, but..."
Camp taught me to forget. I forgot how it feels to be burned by the world, for the most part. I forgot what it feels like to chase the glimmering mirage, the effervescent promise of hope that the world provides. I forgot how to give my best, most businesslike handshake. I forgot that feeling of looking down at the test I'd studied so hard for and seeing a C where there should be an A (okay, maybe I didn't entirely forget that one--the feeling was just a bit numbed over the summer). I forgot why I ever worried so much about what so-and-so thinks of me. I forgot what I looked like with makeup on. Oftentimes, I forgot there was a real world out there, a world in which I'd faced high school drama, the stress of applying to college, the bitter sting of bid day, the heartbreaking grief from the death of a grandparent, the fading of friendships and then some. I simply forgot.
But, on the other hand, camp taught me to remember. I remembered what it feels like to be carefree. I remembered that silliness is a language and love is a currency. I remembered peace--and more than just this, it made itself a home in my heart, gracefully tossing out the dusty boxes from the basement where my stress lived. I remembered to say good morning and to speak a good day into existence. I remembered to sing without reason, to dance without music, to give recklessly. I remembered that the best gift you can give someone is a handwritten letter of encouragement. I remembered the art of showing up--that being present is the best thing you can do for someone when they're hurting. I remembered to boldly forge paths of forgiveness, grace, and mercy where the world says there should be traces of resentment, anger, and disgust. I remembered the feeling of being wholly enveloped by a community who loves you and Jesus just a little bit more. I remembered--and realized, maybe I had never truly felt--the feeling of falling backwards into an abyss of the unknown and resurfacing triumphantly, impossibly safe by the grace of a God who loves me more than words can say.
So yes, this summer taught me to forget a lot, but I remembered tenfold more than what I forgot. He gave me unexpected and undeserved comfort in a place where I knew next to no one going in.
The last day of camp, I sat next to the dear friends I'd made over the course of the 10 weeks I'd spent at camp, each one of us crying for more reasons than one-- because of what we'd gained, how much we loved one another, how sad we were to see this season of goodness come to a close, maybe because we were tired. Whatever the reason, we all cried because we knew we were saying goodbye to something rare and important. Something so sweet that cannot and will not be replicated.
In closing, I will leave you with the first few verses of a hymn that, in its fullness, describes the tune of my heart after this summer: Oh how sweet it is to trust in Jesus-- to take Him at His word. I pray that someday, you will find the strength to do the same.
Oh how sweet to trust you Jesus
And to take You at Your word
Just to rest upon Your promise
And to know so says my Lord
Jesus Jesus how I trust You
Proven faithful over and over
Jesus Jesus precious Jesus
Oh for grace to trust You more.