Three weeks ago today, I arrived home from the best month of my life. I spent the month of June at Saranac Lake in upstate New York on Summer Staff, working and serving high school students at a Young Life camp.
If you’re sassy like me, you’re probably wondering why it took me three weeks to write about the self-proclaimed “best” month of my life. Valid thought. (Sassy . . . but valid.)
Well, for the first couple weeks back, I was in denial that it was over. I thought that if I placed words to a screen, it would be confirming that I was never going to relive the month exactly how it was (which I am not), and I wasn’t quite ready for that. Maybe it’s because I didn’t think any words or lines construed in my head could possibly even begin to encompass or sum up the month, and I still don’t truly think they can. Then there was also the possibility that I really didn’t have much to say. People would ask me how June was, and I would light up and say, “Great! It was the best, I miss it dearly,” but I did not know how I could describe something that is so much greater than words, something that my mind doesn’t completely wrap around.
While the first couple thoughts may be true, I quickly learned the last wasn’t. In passing, yes, saying great was probably the best response I could give, but the people who sat me down, asked about my month, and wanted to know how I saw Jesus? Yeah, I could talk for days. So yes, it was great. Simply the best. And I do miss it. But I am ecstatic to be home. I wasn’t made to be at camp forever and that’s probably for the better.
So in short, here’s a little of what I experienced. For starters, it was exhausting. I was worked like a horse and have never been so exhausted in my entire life. At times, I felt drained. I felt like it was a matter of steps until I crumbled into pieces or until my muscles ripped off. I popped blood blisters, re-dislocated joints, and constantly was running (or speed-walking). It was not always glamorous, and there were mornings where I felt more unsure than confident. Yet, I still felt rejuvenated, full of purpose, and eager to serve.
I asked more questions than I ever have, and I received answers. I didn’t know why I was there, and at times I felt useless. I constantly was trying to rely on myself–I oftentimes reverted back to good ole, self-sufficient Erica–when I was surrounded by a team. They were strong when I was weak, and positive when I was a drag. I have never had so many people immediately care about me, and go out of their way to make my life easier. I was surrounded by friends who encouraged me, prayed over me, loved me when I was feisty, told me I looked great when I was a mess, and challenged me. These were people I knew for a mere few weeks.
I witnessed lives change. I witnessed future careers, spouses, friends, colleges, majors, and families change. I witnessed hundreds and hundreds of kids hear the best news of their life, and finally feel it. I watched as students stood up and started a new life. I saw slates get wiped clean, as tears poured down faces and leaders embraced sweet kids. Lives didn’t just change, eternities changed. Entire existences were altered permanently. I saw kids that I would see again one day.
And I saw this through pure chaos. I saw this through kids conquering fears on ropes courses, through kids getting flung around clinging desperately to a tube. I saw this as kids piled into a room, to sing (scream) Sweet Caroline at the top of their lungs. I saw this when kids would get so excited over desert, and rave about last night’s dinner.
So somewhere, between Sweet Caroline and warm cookies, people were given purpose. Hope. People were given forgiveness and love. People were given new lives. This didn’t happen because it was “magical.” It didn’t happen because the workers were extra nice and super efficient. It happened because of Jesus. It happened because you saw Him everywhere you turned: in the way the hills caressed the sky, in the way you felt transcending peace. Life change happened because of Jesus, and I got to witness that.
So yes, it was great. Really, the best. And yes, I miss it dearly. But how blessed am I that The Lord I got to serve at camp, is the same Lord that I get to wake up and serve every day here. The same Lord I get to spend time with.
Answer: Really blessed. Really blessed and extremely undeserving.