My summer was incredible. I was awed by nature, I grew in confidence. Nearly every day I found myself laughing so hard that my abs ached. I made so many new friends who immediately made me feel completely at home in their unique community. These are friendships that I’ll treasure forever.
In many ways, my summer was a breeze – I was being paid to jump in mud puddles with 6-year-olds (could life get any better than that??). But at the end of the day, I often felt alone. I want to be careful how I say this, so as not to offend some of the people that I really care about, but I think that my friends on staff would be quick to agree that we had quite different worldviews. We had vastly different opinions on faith issues and social issues. We drew lines in totally different places. And at the end of the day, I just felt…so different.
For the first few weeks, I didn’t mind being the different one. It felt like a God-sent opportunity to share my convictions. But being the different one 24-7, week after week, with few opportunities to find encouragement from the outside world, it just got exhausting and lonely. I knew I valued my convictions, but as day after day passed interacting with people that did not share them, I began to feel less secure in them. It didn’t help that my two hours of break each day were devoted to showers and naps, and I regret to say that my devotions became shorter and further apart as the summer progressed.
My prayers also became short and demanding. “God. I’m tired. Why did you put me here? I went where I heard you calling me. So why do I feel like I’m being pulled away from you? Sure, I’m having fun, but I feel spiritually empty. I know you want more for me, so why withhold it now? There’s only so much you can ask of me.”
Finally one night after the kids were in bed, I had had it. I excused myself to the bathroom so that for once I could be completely alone and have a break from holding it all together. “God. I cannot do this. Obeying what you have convicted me of day after day is becoming a charade. I’m alone and I don’t even feel you with me. That’s not fair. You need to help me. Please!” Finished with my rant, I pulled myself together so no one would ask any questions back at the dining fly.
Nothing happened the next day. I wasn’t terribly surprised at that; after all, what could happen? Here I was in the middle of nature with my beautiful campers and goofy co-, but not exactly in touch with any other part of the world. No significant change could possibly happen.
Except that something did happen. I just didn’t know it.
That very evening, my co-counselor for that week was quietly in much the same state that I had been in. He too felt alone in his beliefs. He texted a friend asking for prayer. He just wanted to know that there was someone else there at camp with him who shared his convictions.
The following night we found each other. I came out from the cabin after singing a homesick camper to sleep to find my co sitting under the dining fly reading his Bible. This was a first! Excited, I ran to get mine too, and we sat there quietly reading together for a few minutes. Then we began to talk. We quickly realized how similar our religious beliefs and lifestyle convictions were. It was exciting!! Finally there was someone to talk to about the struggles and frustration of being alone. But the most exciting part was realizing that we *weren’t* alone anymore! Even though we wouldn’t be able to spend too much time together after that week, it made the biggest difference to know that there was someone else who believed in the things most important to me, that I wasn’t delusional. And in that moment I felt, not only knew, with absolute certainty, that God was right there with me.
To someone else, this may not sound like a big deal. But to me, it was a miracle. Be encouraged by it – you are not alone. Even when He feels far away, God is with you, so hold fast to Him. Know that He is willing to work miracles in your life, and that He will keep you safe.
And don’t be afraid to be seen reading you Bible..you never know what a difference it might make to someone. 😉