“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” – Mark 5:19
It was week 7; the end was near. I had a lot left to do to be able to get the trading post in order, I had my whole cabin to pack up/clean, I had some laundry that needed to be finished, I had staff bills to take care of, etc. I was trying hard not to spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that camp was about to be over. I didn’t want to start the process of saying goodbye. I was anxious about heading back into life in Augusta and jumping right into student teaching. I loved every minute of this summer, as hard as it was at times, and I didn’t want to leave. So, as I’m dealing with all these emotions that I haven’t truly given over to the Lord, I hopped into my car and the verse above was the one sitting on my dash. It was so fitting to me, and it was one of those little moments where I remembered how God cares about it all. I’m “still processing” how much the Lord has done for me, but I do have a few lessons I want to share from this summer.
I learned a lot about relying on the Lord’s strength and not my own this summer. Whether it was to get through the high ropes course or to do one more load of laundry on a late night, I really learned about letting Him be strong while I was weak. For years, I’ve thought that relying on the Lord’s strength meant that He would give me the strength to do it. I thought that I wouldn’t feel weak, and that all of a sudden, these things that scared me wouldn’t scare me anymore. But that wasn’t the case for me! Lots of times He didn’t give me the strength to do it, but He put people in my life who had the strength to do it and could help me. The amount of friends that helped me through the ropes course was so encouraging. God gave me just the right people at just the right times to help me with some incredibly hard tasks. One night, I was so DONE. I was tired and overwhelmed, but I had a ton of laundry to finish. I went into the laundry room and my friend Emily was in there folding clothes. She looked at me and said, “I’ve got this! Go.” How cool was God to put her in my life for the whole summer and for her to be strong when I was incredibly weak? Very cool!
The theme of this past spring semester was that I was living a life that wasn’t the one I’d expected. More than once though, I had the thought that once summer came, I would be living a life that I knew what it was going to look like. I knew what to expect with camp, and I had major expectations for what this summer was going to be like. This summer was nothing like I expected it to be. While my job was different than last year, I’d expected some of the challenges but not nearly all of them. The relationships I formed ended up being different than I’d expected (in good ways for sure). However, there were some aspects of camp this summer that were a lot harder than I’d expected. I learned in the last few weeks that I can’t put my hope in camp or what camp is going to give me. I have to put it in the Lord. He is THE ONLY ONE who is going to always be there, even in the midst of events that are unexpected. And while camp is a pretty “safe” place for me, He’s so much safer.
At the beginning of the summer, we were in a prayer meeting type thing, and one of the other staff members prayed for me, thanking the Lord for my smile and how I’m constantly smiling. I laughed. I looked at my friend Anna, who was also laughing, and she then said, “Ashton said to me the other day that she’s more of a glass half-empty type of person.” The whole idea of me smiling “a lot” was honestly a foreign concept to me. I’m negative, and I’m not really joyful. I definitely had moments of negativity this summer, and I wasn’t the most joyful of people on staff. BUT, I will admit, the Lord taught me a lot about joy and what it means to truly be joyful. This summer was a summer of challenge filled with joy. When I look back on this summer, I’ll remember forever the joy He filled my heart with during the hard times.
This summer was such a blessing to me in more ways than one! While I’m still unsure about next summer and if I’ll get to be back at camp, I’m looking forward to the reunions I’ll have with some of the spicy staff who made my summer so great!