Camp was awesome. I knew it would be. 1. It’s camp. 2. I was with one of the greatest high school ministries in the world. 3. Where only 2 or 3 are gathered in the Name of Jesus, He has to show up…and there were 500 of us. So He was in full effect.
I went to camp to help with games. That’s it. No children. And I made it very clear of that point. But if you know me, you know that I hate seeing people feel left out or just sitting alone when everyone else is having fun. So the first night there, I saw Natalie. Alone. I asked my friend Shanceler about her and was told that she didn’t really open up much to anyone. Bells and whistles went off in my head: NO NO NO! On a Wednesday night, if kids alone, it’s only for 2 hours then they go home to their families. But she was gonna be alone for a WEEK. Shanceler told me that was gonna be my girl. “But Shance. I said no kids,” I told her. Shance, knowing me since birth (literally. ugh.) reiterated what she said before: “That. Is. Your. Girl.” Goodbye, free time.
I introduced myself and asked Natalie why she was sitting alone when everyone else was jumping and having fun. She said she came from and orthodox Christian church and she was very disapproving of Lakewood, including the fact that the pastors were not priests. I immediately knew why God had put her in my sight: I’m somewhat of a “go-hard” when it comes to defending my church and how I worship. As a dancer, and as someone whose body constantly rebels against her, I use every opportunity I can to risk looking undignified to thank and honor Someone who suffered the ultimate humiliation for me. We went back and forth for 3 DAYS on this subject until she finally just said, “It’s just so loud.” I gave her that lol. It’s pretty loud.
The last night of camp she was sitting in the back by herself and I went to talk to her. She immediately started crying and saying she hated being made to come to camp for so many reasons. She opened up about her life and her struggles. Turns out, she lives in Russia most of the time and attends school there. Lakewood Youth was a GIANT culture shock for her. After she finished, she let me pray with her (she didn’t close her eyes haha…and I had to convince her we were praying to the same God LOL). Then, we just walked around the camp and she let me hear some of the music she listens to in Russia. She’s a really cool kid. The next day as we were leaving, she told me she would come to church Wednesday night if I was there. Guess where I’ll be Wednesday night!
This experience was one of the best I’ve had a camp. I’ve had a lot going on lately, but I don’t think I prayed for myself once the entire time. I just couldn’t get her out of my mind. It’s such a tugging feeling to want someone to experience God so much, forgetting completely about yourself in hopes that someone just “gets it.”
I don’t know if Natalie will ever jump up and down during worship or pray out loud in a big room of people. But that’s not the point.
The point that Jesus made on earth was to be completely about people. And people are different. Sometimes, they’re not going to ever agree with you or change to fit what you think is right. Your job is not to make sure people “get it.” Love is love despite differing opinions. And it literally only takes your following the prompting to go up and say, “Hey. What’s your name?” to someone who looks like they need a friend. If you have a mouth and legs, you got this “love” thing covered.
Natalie summed up every camp message for me by being difficult lol. I can definitely say my “make room” experience was allowing God to create space in my head and my heart to realize that my purpose is about OTHER people. It has nothing to do with me. When I go to ask God what he’s going to do in my life, I’m being entirely selfish. My question should be, “Lord, WHO CAN I BE in SOMEONE ELSE’S life?” Serving Jesus is not a “me” thing, it’s an “us” thing.