Updated: Dec 10, 2021
If you don’t know me, I was a camp counselor for many summers for a week. It was always an amazing time, but I want to share some things about the summer of 2011. Most of what follows was written later that summer. I prefer not to try to write about everything that happened; I almost feel like that would diminish it somehow. However, I do want to share what God showed me through some of the remarkable people with whom I had the privilege to spend a week.
First, I want to share a little about my small group. There were three of us counselors (I was the oldest by an unspeakable number of years) and 10 campers. From the first activity we did as a group, we were totally bonded.
I have been going to camp as a camper or counselor since I was12. In all those years, I have never experienced a group like this. They were so open with each other, trusting, caring, encouraging, honest, etc. I cannot find words sufficient to express my awe of them and their hearts. I told them a little of how God touched me through them, but I’d like to share a little more.
I have always had a VERY strong defense mechanism of not feeling things that I deem too painful, sometimes even just mildly unpleasant. You can imagine how well that’s worked out. I have worked on it with a few therapists and pastors, not to mention much prayer. I’m certainly better than I was, but noted a few years ago that because of this auto-defense, I have trouble having much compassion for others. I’m afraid that if I let myself feel for others too much, I will just be undone 24/7. Think about it: war, famine, torture, rape, any kind of abuse, the troubles my friends/family may be going through, etc.
I feel things very deeply, so the idea of letting myself feel anything for anyone on that list or beyond just seems to be too much for me to uphold, even with God’s help. I’ve just been too scared to allow it. I’ve always felt I would drown in an overwhelming flood of despair.
We’re making an “S” for the name of our group: Supernova.
Having a past with severe depression doesn’t help. If that’s where I was when I was turning off my feelings, what would happen if I allowed myself to feel for others? I’m not saying I’m a frozen, unfeeling robot. I just don’t let myself feel enough to risk that “coming undone” that terrifies me so.
In some of our small group meetings, the campers shared things that they were struggling with. They were willing to be open and raw with us. God absolutely spoke to me through them. I felt so much for them, it could only come out in tears several times throughout the week. I do NOT like to cry in public, but I cried every day that week. And every time (but one I’ll address later) was feeling true compassion for someone else.
God used them to push through that wall and help me to see that feeling compassion will not result in me losing it and ending up in the psych ward. I’m not saying that I’m totally over it, but these wonderful, sweet, transparent campers have shown me so much. I cannot thank them enough.
Lilia and Leo
Another privilege I experienced was talking to Lilia and Leo Morales. Lilia and I were actually campers together years ago, though I’m not certain that we ever really hung out together. I always liked her, but God has done some wonderful things in her since those days. You can see it in her face, as if she glows with His light or something.
She and her husband Leo (who’s from Columbia, where they both live) were there to lead worship, and WOW! They were (and still are) very much walking with the Lord in the Holy Spirit and are very open about what they’ve learned, their struggles, etc. The freedom they have in Him is palpable and incredibly inspiring. I lost count of how many campers wanted to go to Columbia to work with them. Their joy in the Lord is infectious and makes you long for more in your own life.
Finally, the only time I cried over something about myself. On the last day of any week of camp, after the campers are gone, the counselors get together before we all take off in our separate directions. We usually ate at Wendy’s. We were about to drive off when someone stopped me because one of my tires was flat. I didn’t make a lot of money, and I was over 3 hours from home.
I was also ridiculously tired. If you’ve never counseled camp (especially Sr. High Xtreme), you may not know that in the end, you are completely drained spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Anything that happens is too much, so I started to cry and was really at a loss. I just shut down. I started to get my luggage out, so we could get to the spare, which also ended up being flat.
Without the slightest prompt or delay, several folks jumped right in and started caring for me. Laura lent kind words and a shoulder for me to cry on. Logan, Jim, Leo (I may have missed someone since I was busy blubbering) right away assessed the situation and got enough air in my tire to get me to the tire place that Randy suggested. If the tire hadn’t had any air, I have no doubt they would have found a way to get my car to the tire place.
Then Lilia offered to ride with me (I couldn’t stop crying). At first, my tears were about feeling defeated, lost, hopeless. (As things happened to several counselor cars, we began to feel it was Satan trying to ruin our week since he couldn’t touch us during.)
As all those beautiful people reached out to me in love, the tears became those of … I’m not sure how to describe it… a most deeply felt sense of love, caring, feeling cherished, and many other words that are insufficient. Every time I think about this or talk about it, the tears come again, so I know it wasn’t just being tired. [You need to know that I have to repeatedly stop typing as I wipe my tears even now.]
It was God showing His love for me through these incredible people and how much they loved me in that moment. It was God’s desire for me to feel something this overwhelming that lead to my tire and spare both being flat while I was still there.
I am a VERY verbal person (as anyone can tell you) but trying to put this into words that are full enough truly eludes me and may always. Nevertheless, I am left with example after example of God’s love for me. I will never be able to thank Him enough for giving me that, nor my friends for listening to His prompt.