My Whole Life Changed in One Summer
Have you ever been going through your normal life, doin yo thang, when an experience hits you in the face and changes everything?... yeah that happened to me too.
As long as I can remember, Jesus, God and the Bible have been common words around my household. Prayer was an everyday thing, Bible studies and Church gatherings were weekly if not more, and whenever one of us was having a particular rough or emotional day, even from the age of 7, my Mom would say “did you talk to Jesus about it?”
I never doubted God was real, and therefore that the Bible was the one and only word of God and my life should be built around him and this word. I knew I was a sinner in need of a savior, and my life should be lived as my Savior would want.
I’m sort of a perfectionist. Not that my plate, fork and napkin need to line up exactly, but I need to behave perfectly and believe everyone else should too. Growing up I was the tattle tale of the siblings and cousins. I was the realistic friend always dragging on everyone else’s fun and I was outspoken about everything I believed.
It wasn’t until one summer, that many of my faults were made abundantly clear. My Dad grew up going to this camp, which had a program for High Schoolers. You could go serve the camp for 3 weeks by doing dishes and grounds work, while doing 2 Bible studies a day and communing with 19 other teenage guys and girls as you “seek to follow Jesus better together.”
Yeah friggin right.
Stick 20 high school guys and girls in the same building for 21 days, ask them to display their strength, leadership, go swimming, sleep in the same building, clean dishes with pits full of tempting bubbles, show off their years of Sunday school knowledge and I promise you... Jesus is the last thing on everyone’s mind. It was a pit of drama. Who likes who, who kissed who, who broke who’s heart?? Let’s spy on the boys, let’s go for a night swim (naked), let’s tease each other and play games with everyone’s emotions.
Those 3 weeks made a few things abundantly clear: No one likes a tattle tale, no one likes to play by the rules, no one likes the director’s daughter and the slutty, flirty, rebellious girl always gets the guy. It was a summer I wrestled with my faith. I wrestled with my sense of right and wrong. I wrestled with what everyone else called my “perfect family.” I wrestled with my innocence and I wrestled with my self-worth.
I could probably write a 100 page book on all the events that took place that summer, but the result was: a broken heart, a firm resolve and a baptism. After 3 weeks which felt like 3 years, I decided I didn’t need a guy or the fun rebellious girls to tell me who I was. I realized I didn’t have to have all the answers in order to give my life to Jesus. And I didn’t need to compromise my beliefs to make other people happy.
Now these are all things I continue to struggle with, but I had been through the fire and instead of melting I came out harder, stronger and purified.
Life is full of fires. This wasn’t my only one and I know there are many to come. The question is: What kind of person does Jesus call you to be in the midst of that fire? Are you going to be a petty, hair pulling, fit throwing, attention grabbing baby? Or are you going to wipe those tears away, put your head back, get rid of distractions, turn the other cheek, look that challenge in the eye... and smile? I started off the first girl, and became the second.
If you, like me, had a “typical life” that got rudely interrupted by a learning experience, how did you react? How do you plan to react next time that happens? (Cause trust me, it’ll happen again.) Here are the 5 things I did that transformed me from being a pathetic baby to strong and dignified in this situation:
- I recognized I was in the wrong. In my situation, it was abundantly clear to me the mistakes and faults of the other people involved. My parents even agreed with me! But change didn’t start to happen until I admitted that I had done certain things to bring the situation about and my reaction to the situation was less than gracious.
- I let go of my plans. I took a step back and realized something big was happening and it wasn’t actually about me. I wanted to make it about me but really this was God’s story I was intruding upon. Here I was trying to upstage the main character and my excessive attention grabbing, sobbing and fit throwing was pulling everyone’s attention stage left. I needed to look at every situation as a way for God to display his Glory and I had to realize I might need to get over myself in order for that to happen.
- I killed with kindness. There was a particular girl who I was, and still am, convinced of her absolute resolve to attack me in every malicious way she saw possible. For about the first week and a half I cowarded, I begged for everyone around me to see her crooked heart, I avoided her and I let everything she did get under my skin. Mid the second week something happened to snap me out of it. I prayed for God to give me the strength to be kind to her and a true friend even when I felt like being mean or fake. And guys, it worked! I complimented her, prayed over her and had a few heart to heart conversations. The fruit of my actions isn’t completely known because God could have been doing things inside of her that I’ll never know, but I know that it vastly affected me and my future.
- I worshiped. At my lowest point when I thought I couldn’t possibly feel worse and my heart couldn’t possibly ever heal... All I knew to do was worship. I literally got in my knees and praised God. Don’t ask me how I had the wisdom or strength to do that because it was nothing I did and I haven’t quite felt that way since. I was brought to the absolute end of my rope and had nowhere to go but to him. That whole day I whispered worship songs under my breath and guys... I was overwhelmed by his peace. It felt like a nice warm bucket of water was just pouring over me, enveloping me in his embrace. I knew that he had me and he was taking care of everything.
- I took a nap. I’m serious. It’s a wonder what sleep will do! ;)
Girl you know who’s got your back. Who cares if no one else can see the Shepherd who holds your heart? Don’t be afraid of what they say, what they’ll do or how disappointed they might get. Hold firm to what is true, lean on the Word of God, consult the Holy Spirit and live like Jesus. That’s what’ll bring you through the fire strong and dignified.