PART 3 OF 4:
Okay, so we've covered some ground on what I learned this summer. I could tell you more about camp, but I'll just say this: some of it was hard, some of it was easy, and all of it was good. Ultimately. I can't say it was always comfortable, because it wasn't.
However, one of the counselors sent me a friend request on Facebook, which was waiting for me when I finished my family vacation. Honestly, that felt very good, and I'm very grateful for her. ::understatement:: **Since then, I've become FB friends with many of the counselors. Now that we're more than a month away from camp I'm learning that social media actually can aid in these friendships. After a year of getting to know one another better on Facebook, camp won't be nearly so challenging next year. We'll have gained on the issue of time, and I hope I'll be better about sharing my experience.
**A Facebook Friend Request might seem like this super small thing, but it can be huge to someone else after they've had a fairly tough summer struggling with... well, everything. Another example that small acts of kindness are often the ones that mean the most to others. So, don't be afraid to get out there and perpetuate acts of kindness!!!
I spent the entire three weeks not really wanting the other counselors to know my experience because deep down I thought they'd see me as a Lesser Christian (don't think that actually exists, but there you go). What I actually achieved was just not letting anyone in. If they don't know you, they can't like you. Or hate you. Or even feel "okay" about you. In other words, the law of thirds doesn't work if you don't let anyone know you. The irony is that I should've figured this out week one because I became very close with that group of high school girls. I'll just stop and admit to being a slow learner.
What else did I learn?
At our last fellowship dinner at church our pastor invited the Gideons to come. Frankly, I wasn't looking forward to this presentation. It cuts into our "fellowship" time and usually makes choir practice run late. Let's just say I wasn't their ideal listener.
One man did most of the talking. He began by sharing his testimony. (Does this feel familiar?)
I will do my best to not be overly wordy and get the gist of his testimony. He said that he grew up not knowing Jesus. His family didn't know Jesus. He didn't find Jesus until he was at the rock bottom of his life. He was in a prison cell after just being charged with first degree murder and kidnapping.
You didn't see that coming, right? Me either. I try to imagine what that must've been like and come up empty.
Anyway, he said that another inmate saw his despair and gave him a Gideon Bible. It was the first time he'd ever had his hands on a Bible. He started to read, and in the reading, believed. However, there was a kicker: he didn't believe that God could forgive him specifically. He didn't doubt that Jesus died on the cross to save mankind, but mankind hadn't committed murder and kidnapping... so that salvation was for other people. A pastor came to the prison and spoke with him. When he asked the pastor if Jesus could forgive a murderer, that pastor immediately said, "Yes."
That changed his life. Forever. Of course, it didn't change the consequences. We always get the consequences of our actions. He served thirty plus years of prison time. During that time he got his PhD in Theology.
After he was paroled he joined the Gideon ministry because it saved his life. Through that ministry he talks not only to churches but regularly goes to the prison and visits youth in correctional facilities.
What he says to the youth: "You are only one choice and one person away from prison."
That statement kept my brain working for weeks. One person. One choice. I began to think about my own life. I knew there was meaning in there. I had to figure out how I could apply it.
Here's what I figured out: People and choices are like Pringles. You can't make just one. Each time you're confronted with a person and/or a choice it is taking you one of two ways. Closer to Jesus or further away. There is no middle ground here. So, if you make that choice or bring that person into your life that takes you away from Jesus, chances are it will lead you to more of the same. The reverse is also true. If you bring people into your life who bring you closer to Jesus and make choices that bring you closer, they will lead you to more of the same.
That whole scenario put my Soundtrack posts into a new perspective (which are, essentially, my life). I'd talked about holes and filling them, but finally I could see it all very plainly. When I decided to turn to the world to fill my holes that was one choice away from Jesus (because every choice is closer to or further away). Of course, it led to more choices of the same. Instead of getting fuller, I just got emptier. Until, like the man leading that presentation, I hit my own rock bottom.
And, still, even after hearing this, I was still struggling with my own feelings of being a Lesser Christian. That guy didn't know Christ when he did what he did. I knew Christ when I did what I did... and I did it anyway. No, I didn't kill or kidnap anyone. The person I hurt most was me, but...
Well, I'll save the rest for my last post in this series.
Have you ever thought about how important your choices are? The people you bring into your life? Does the whole "one person, one choice" resonate with you?