During this journey, I’ve been reaching my hands out trying to find something to hold onto. I’ve been striving for peace. I’ve been striving for happiness. I’ve been striving for grace. Somewhere between Colombia and Kansas and Ohio I’ve realized I don’t even know what those words really mean. Along the way, I have been more focused on getting the job done and moving through the motions of getting campers to things on time or making sure everything is just right. I lost the fantastical idea of discovery and exploration. It’s not until I’m sitting in the airport at the end of the week, take a deep breath, and drink real coffee that I realize what a privilege it is to serve. These concepts I strive for are already given to me. They are already here, nestled in my bones.
I think us humans do that a lot. We work so hard for things, failing to realize everything was right there, already achieved and happening before our own eyes. That peace I’ve been striving for has been with me since I got the phone call that I was a Peace Intern. There’s a lot of things I’ve been without this summer, but peace isn’t one of them. That happiness is found at every single camp dance, talent show, hoedown, or laughing fit at meals. And then there’s grace, who’s been there since the very beginning of creation. Before God ever created earth, ocean, cosmos, or stars, our Creator was thinking of grace.
As I’ve entered into the wild ride that is my twenties, there’s a list of things that I refuse to stop seeking. They include: good people, good coffee, excellent music, dance parties, chances to pet dogs, sunsets, sunrises, mountains, God, and literature. The more I grow into my relationship with Jesus the more I realize that all of these things that bring me joy are meant to “woo” me. God has beautifully created these things in an attempt to seek me out— to pursue me in love and devotion. On this Peace Interning journey, I’ve found God showing up and seeking me out among the masses. She has sought me out to pray for high schoolers in a concrete gym. She has sought me out to watch people come together after a stressful day and share in communion at the table. She has sought me out in order to show me how my passion can unfold. But, how often do we seek out God? How many times do we pass up the opportunity to pursue Jesus? The answer is a lot.
We’re so used to being chased that we never think to turn around and do the chasing. All the times that I’ve tried to hard to run away from God’s overwhelming love, I never once thought about what would happen if I turned around and began to seek out God. These days I walk outside every morning and say, “Good morning, God.” Because these sunrises and these glistening bodies of water are Her way of saying, “Here’s this piece of art that I painted, just for you, enjoy it. Cherish it. No two paintings look the same.” I grow more grateful for this feat of vulnerability every single day. I have begun to pursue Jesus in the same way He pursues me. I can’t paint a sunset or die for all of humanity, but I can pray for my neighbor. I can dance with a group of high school girls at summer camp. I can encourage kids in small group to share their thoughts. I can foster inclusive communities. Those are the things I will never stop seeking.
Boy, have I found a lot this summer. I have found heartache, uncontrollable laughter, good camp food (yes, it exists), and vulnerability. There’s so much to find. This world is wide and deep. Humanity’s story is a tale that has been scribbled in the margins of the universe. I love this life. I love this job. I love these people. Every week seems to be a new time of discovery and exploration.
In one of my small groups this summer, the question was asked: “What does it mean to be human?” One of my campers answered, “Being human means to overcome.” What a glorious thought. After pain and struggle, the heart longs for peace. The human spirit is one that overcomes, indeed. Everyday millions of people overcome prejudice, hatred, and disregard. Everyday someone is being killed for their human experience. Everyday someone is forgotten in the margins of history books and news stories. Everyday people are falling between the cracks of justice. Within all of that darkness, we find peace. And when we find peace, we realize that it was already there. Because peace meets you where you are. It greets you at your pain threshold and doesn’t let go. The human spirit finds hope, peace, and love in every battle it faces. And that is the most miraculous thing in the world.
“And to Never Yield”
As a workaholic, I never stop. I’m constantly in a state of movement. Working at summer camps is a very good work environment for me. There’s always something to be doing, Always someone to be talking to, playing with, or serving communion to (thanks Disciples). So, “never yielding” is something I am very familiar with. To this day I have been to 2 countries and over 10 states in the last 2 months (including layovers). This life I’m living is wildly inconsistent. I am leaning all the way in. I’m giving in to patience and flexibility. I’m pushing against exhaustion with a force. I’m saying “yes” more than I ever have.
All that being said, I’m writing this from the Columbus airport and my flight begins boarding in 10 minutes. I’m headed back to Tennessee for a week at my home camp with all my great spiritual heroes. Bethany Hills is the place that got me started in this whole ministry thing— before I even realized my life has been one big feat of ministry. I am extremely grateful for this summer. I am changed. I am never-yielding. Most importantly, I am consistently changing the way I see the world and the way I live my life.
(But, I’m also looking forward to a nap in August!)