Monday, August 15, 2011

One Week Out: Final Thoughts

In the middle of the woods with one building that has Internet, and with the hassle of carrying my laptop with me everywhere, it became very difficult to update my blog this summer. I had lots of time to journal, however, and God has used this summer in huge ways to teach me about Himself. After being at home for a week, I am hoping to give you one last blog post with a summary of the hard things God has taught me. It took me several weeks to sort through everything He was showing me and the ways He was growing me, which is another reason why I have not been updating my blog. My prayer is that in reading this blog, you can learn just a little bit of what I learned this summer from God.

Most of the tough stuff began at the beginning of July. A few of my teammates began to criticize a lot of the things I was doing, and I was not taking it well. In hindsight, I needed to hear most of what they were saying, but at the time I was feeling pretty defensive, even though I didn't say anything out loud. When Tommy and Joellyn began to make suggestions for me to improve my piano playing, I couldn't handle it. It was so humbling to sit and listen to musical advice from a team of non-music majors, and it was even more humbling about a week later to realize that they were right. By the end of the first week of July, I was feeling really worn down emotionally.

The next week was the week Rachel left, and Brandon came up for a visit to help see her off. After that weekend, Brandon bestowed upon the Green Team HeartSong's latest purchase: a new iPad. As a team, we spent the next week discovering all of the new things we could do with the iPad. Dane could use it to mix sound from anywhere in the room, and we could put it onstage to mix our own earbuds, among other sound-mixing things. But the main application we ended up using was GarageBand. Tommy plugged it in and used the drum kit sounds to play a song or two to be goofy, and he also created a musical intro for Rise and Sing with its prerecorded string sounds and drum beats. After taking Music Philosophy with Dr. Mortensen, I have very distinct opinions about GarageBand and about what we were doing with it, and for the next week I was wrestling with those opinions. I knew that I never wanted to touch GarageBand, but I wasn't sure if I was okay with someone else like Tommy using it and being a part of a group that used it like we did. At that point I began to feel separated from my team. I knew exactly what my teammates would say if I shared my struggle with them; I knew just what arguments they would use to justify it, and I understood where they were coming from. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to make them understand my side or the struggle I was going through. When I finally did share this with 2 of my teammates, that's exactly what happened, and I started feeling really alone.

After talking with a couple of Lake Ann counselors about it, I found that one of my assigned accountability partners was going through the same type of struggle at her home church. It was really comforting to know that someone else understood me and there was someone I could talk to and pray with. I am so thankful that God put me on the Lake Ann team so I was able to build relationships with a few of the the full-time counselors that I had more in common with.

Things turned around for me in the middle of July at the end of week 5. During "God and I Time" Saturday morning, I was reading Galatians for some reason. I came across chapter 5, verse 13, a verse that I had read in the middle of May, which says: "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." I meant to make that my theme verse for the summer, but had forgotten about it until that moment. God showed me in that moment that this was the solution to my problems. I had been so full of pride, scared to share my opinion and not willing to give my teammates a chance, and I was letting my struggles rule my attitude. I realized that by having an attitude of love, I could put my teammates first and discover their hearts for worship, no matter what "instruments" we were using. Probably one of the most valuable things Dr. Mortensen ever taught me was to use times like this to put my opinion aside and to serve and love my team, remembering that the desire to glorify Christ is something we all share, and that Christ will be glorified no matter how God decides to do it, iPad or no iPad. God reminded me of this lesson and this verse that morning, and I set out that weekend to put it into practice. Unfortunately I ended up pretty sick week 6, but as I got my strength back and sought accountability with a couple of my teammates and counselors, I was determined to make the last 2 weeks count, to concentrate on serving my team in love, and I was praying hard that I would be able to do that.

But there was another way I wasn't connecting with my team. After Rachel left, my team consisted of 5 boys and a girl who grew up with brothers, so all of them spoke fluent sarcasm and one of their favorite ways to communicate love was through constant teasing. As much as I tried to understand this unique love language, I often ended up angry or hurt after spending too much time with them. If I wasn't feeling angry, I was just feeling disconnected; I felt as though I couldn't fit in with the group unless I was joining in with the teasing and sarcasm. It's easy for me to connect with one person at a time at a serious level; I did that this summer with Kupkakes, Briana, and several other people. But I CAN'T STAND sarcasm! I kept those feelings to myself, however, as I tried to understand how my teammates were showing love to each other. And I always knew that when I was fed up with them, I had a couple of counselor friends I could go to and spend time with.

For the last two weeks of tour, I had three goals. First, I did my best to not take my team's sarcasm seriously and to try and understand my team's way of showing love. Second, I made a point to show love to my team in the way I preferred, in one-on-one conversations and in encouragement cards. The thing I love about encouragement cards is that I can think through exactly what I want to say and pray that my words are what that person needs to hear. Every one of them is personal and heartfelt, and it is energizing to me to give people encouragement in this way because I know that it is sincere, purposeful love. Third, as I said in my last blog, I spent the last week pouring myself into the Lake Ann staff and campers. I left Lake Ann feeling like I was leaving home, the same feeling I felt every summer when I left Camp Carl. That's when I knew that it was God at work, that He had accomplished these goals through me.

Ken Riley asked all of us to sum up our summer in 5 words. I chose my words from Galatians 5:13 – Serve one another in love. When I am being criticized by my team, when my opinion is different from my team’s, when my team is being so sarcastic that I can’t stand it, God calls me to serve them in love, to show them I love them by considering them better than me and seeking out the thing that I can learn from them. And although I will probably never agree with sarcasm, I am praying that God will help me put those unintentionally-hurtful words aside and forgive, and to continue to love in the way God has called me to love.

For the past week I have had Grayson (from Orange Team)’s song “Give Me a Love” running through my head. I’ve decided to close this blog with some of the words to this song. This has been my prayer as the summer has come to a close, and I hope that in sharing this with you I can show you what God is doing in my life right now. I hope you have enjoyed reading all year and that this blog has pointed you to Christ and His amazing work. Soli Deo Gloria!!

Give me a love that can only come from You
Help me to see all these people as You do
Use my words, may they only come from You
Shape my heart so that loving is all I do
It’s not gonna be easy, but I’m ready

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