This summer I worked at a Christian youth camp. I took pictures of people all summer and grew in faith more than I know. God taught me many lessons in grace and joy and how I needed them throughout my time at camp. I struggled with some “people” issues, but God continued to show me that I needed to give and receive His grace as my own grace was far from sufficient. I went into the summer without many expectations for struggle or change, but He made it a beautiful struggle for me to grow in Him.
At the beginning of summer camp, I was hopeful for ease and ability to get along with everyone, but God had different plans for me. He gave me struggles with people right away. I slowly got more and more frustrated with them and began to dislike being at my office. As the struggles got worse and I was praying for a change, I had a heart change. I realized that, instead of asking for someone else to change to work with me, my prayer should be “Lord, give me your grace.” Trying to deal with life’s problems on my own and give out my human grace was not cutting it. I had to depend on Him to supply the grace that is never-ending.
True to His nature, He bestowed on me more grace than I ever needed, helping me deal with the problematic situation I was in. This reminded me of the real reason I was at camp. I was there to serve the kids and families. I was not there to make myself better or to make friends or to have fun myself. I did get all of those things and more just as we are promised in Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.(ESV) when I realized it was not about me but about Him. So in showing and giving me His grace, He pointed me back to Him.
During our last week of kid’s camp at the end of the summer, I was having a tough time being happy. I was pretending to be happy and trying to hide the fact that I was really struggling. This is when a kid did something to make me realize that choosing joy is always better.
This was my worst week of camp. I was super stressed about a project we were working on and the very little time I had left with all my friends and people at camp. During this week there was a camper who sat by the doors to our main building and opened the door for everyone who came in and out. Every day, whenever there was free time, that is what he did. Each time I walked in those doors, he got a smile and a thank-you from me...at least until Friday. By Friday I was done faking being fine and smiling through the frustration and pain I was experiencing. As I was about to enter the building, the camper stopped me before opening the door and said to me, “I have not seen you smile all day. I will not open this door until you smile.”
Each and every time I went in and out those doors that difficult Friday, he did the same thing, and by the end of the day I realized it was not about faking a smile but choosing joy in Christ and letting Him be my reason to smile. And so a camper, who I was supposed to serve, served me.
All these thoughts, though discombobulated and somewhat random are what Christ laid on my heart these last few weeks. I hope that through it all you can see that it is always about Christ and His work not our own. And that we can always depend on Him to be the provider for us, not just in the material but in the emotional things.