Every time i go to Prescott Pines God has a way of teaching me a couple of lessons. This past weekend definitely held true to that! The main focus of camp is the kids. Even while we are working behind the scenes taking on seemingly unimportant tasks it is all for the spiritual and physical benefits of the kids. But then there are other times. Times when we have one on one opportunities to get to know the kids and to invest much love into a much deprived child. These are the times that i value most. I work a camp in anticipation of a "God experience" with a camper as i have started calling them. Some of these children go their whole lives without experience what it actually means to be loved. Their father's beat them, their mothers yell, and their adult role models fail them. And then they go to camp where they are promised a break from all those worries and the pain that they experience on a daily bases. As camp staff it is then our job to show them this love. But let me tell you this is not always easy.
The more i work at camp the more i start to realize a simple, fundamental truth: It is easy to love the children who are already abundant in love, but the ones who really need it, the ones who are deprived are the ones that are a challenge. One specific occasion that comes to mind is this summer. It was my first year as a Co-counselor and i was mortified! On this particular week there just happened to be a total of four children diagnosed with severe ADD. From the start i knew i needed God's help to get through that week. As campers started to show up i started to mentally prepare myself. Finally, after the second hay ride came around my first camper showed up. His name was Justin. Immediately i sized him up and made a mental profile on him.
" he seems normal enough" i thought. He had good manners, was respectful and most importantly, had good hygiene! Soon after the campers started pouring in. It wasn't until the very last camper showed up that i knew i was in trouble. With a plain white t-shirt with a giant mustered stain on the collar and glasses that looked like the were 30 years old and had a screw loose Ronnie walked up to me.
"Are you my counselor, Y-y-yos-mity sam?" he asked. " Yosemite," i corrected him and then answered ," yes, i am." I hate it when people cant pronounce my name! but i guess that is my fault for choosing such a difficult name for a 10 year old to spit out. Anyways, that week turned out to be as expected. sheer chaos. And at the root of every problem was none other than Ronnie himself. From overflowing toilets to fights with the other campers, Ronnie was a handful. At one point he wanted to go home and so he developed a plan to run away. In this plan he decided that he would steal the 30 year old camp truck, "the blue ford", and drive it to Tuscon. In order to fully appreciate his genius plan you have to understand somethings about this truck. First of all, it is a manual. Second, the seat is stuck in a position so far back that his legs wouldn't be within three feet of the gas petal. And lastly, my favorite, it has nearly 1,000,000 miles on it and is always in danger of falling apart, literally. Ok, back to my story. It turns out he was serious about this plan. At two am on the dot his little head raised from his pillow. he packed his one, small bag that he brought and headed towards the T.P door. Little did he know that i caught wind of his plan and stayed up to catch him red handed. Oh! how i planned on giving him a piece of my mind especially after the week he had given me. Love was the last thing on my mind.
The moment he stepped out of the tp i whispered ," Ronnie, where are you going?" and in a totally unexpected event he busted into tears. That's when i knew i didn't know half of his story. It turns out that in his house there was no love. He thought that both his parents hated him and that there was no point in living. He said he was better off dead. Keep in mind that this is a ten year old. After a quick prayer asking God for the words i began talking, and investing in him to almost five in the morning. It was the classic definition of " a God moment." All he wanted, and needed was love. The love that he never knew. But the question i was left with is how do i love a person that i seem to hate? The answer came this weekend in my bible study.
In 2nd Corinthians 5 it talks about how are bodies are simply tents to our spirits. Our spirits are who we are, and not our bodies. C.S. Lewis once said
"you do not have a soul. you have a body. You ARE a soul."
This is crucial to understand in order to find the "secret" of how to love someone that is seemingly impossible to do so. We must direct our love not to their earthly nature or their flesh, but to their spirit. We must recognize that their attitude, personality, and even their hygiene is mortal. It will one day go away. It is their souls that we must direct our love to. We have to recognize them as God's creation who has just as much eternal value as we do. If our love is based on their worldly attitudes it will surely fail. This is exactly what Paul meant in 2nd Corinthians 5:16
" So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view..."
This is something i must take to heart. To love the spirit and not the world of a person. Their soul and not their body. Their eternity and not their mortality. To love them not as the people they are in the world, but the people they are in God.