I just got back to Eureka from Old Oak Ranch in Sonora, CA, because I spent my weekend at the young adults Speak To Me retreat. I hadn’t been up to OOR for a camp in over a year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, or why I was so excited to go. I love OOR, I love what it has been to me over the years, but seeing a bunch of faces that I should know, but can’t remember the names of was stressful. I wanted to make friends, or spend time with old ones, but this didn’t happen Friday, and Saturday I spent time either alone, or with my brother. The most important thing I wanted out of this camp was to remember how to experience the presence of God. My life has lately been filled to brim with stress and busyness, so hanging out with God was something that I allowed to become like a chore. It was time for this to end.
Every time I go to a camp, even as a child, I find myself wishing that I was the speaker. Not because I think I could do a better job, because all the speakers have enriched my life, but because I have a weird dream of speaking at camps and in schools and wherever my voice will be heard. I want to help other people to tell their stories, and maybe tell mine as well. I sort of do this through my spoken word, but I hope to someday impact some lives the way God has wired me to. I go through fazes of wanting to be recognized, but get taken over by stage fright when opportunity presents itself.
On Saturday I had a meeting with my friend Josh Pinkston for some spiritual guidance. As soon as I sat down I started crying, which is something I do often. I didn’t feel depressed and nothing was necessarily going wrong in my life, I just was suddenly mixed up and lost. We discussed this writing gift that has been recently realized, and how I have fallen in love with that and trying to use it my own way, rather than letting God help me to bring it to its full potential. I realized my need for discipline in my life and my eternal cave of suppressed thoughts that was supposed to be emptied by my year of vulnerability. The problem is that I don’t know how to be vulnerable, and my meeting with Josh was the most vulnerable I’ve been, maybe in years. I need to learn how to give everything to God, because He is the best director.
Saturday night, a random opportunity for late night cereal became apparent. After talking to Josh and spending time with Jesus, I thought maybe hanging out with my new friend Cassie, one of the other interns, was an okay thing to do. It should be well known that I don’t really have best friends, and a big reason for that is because I push them away. Cassie and I had met some OOR interns named Zac and Caleb, so they, my old friend AJ and a girl named Karah had late night cereal, which became so much more. We sat in the victory circle, and I was thinking of leaving, because that many new people can get overwhelming, but I stayed. We began to share our testimonies, and soon midnight had become 4am. We moved to the staff room and continued sharing and praying for each other. I’d never seen a sunrise, so we hiked out to a spot to watch it from. Whilst being attacked by mosquitoes, the sun rose and it was beautiful. My heart was racing and my lungs were tightening, but I refused to cave in and fall into panic mode. I had stayed up all night, and soon realized that walls of safety had come down in an unrealized vulnerable explosion. I had friends. I watched the sunrise with them. We know each other. Six virtual strangers named themselves the Breakfast Club, just to be cheesy, because God brought them together and we still don’t know why.
Last night was more than just meaningful to me. I barely know most of these new people, but I really do know them. They know more about me now than people who I’ve been close to for years. It allowed me to be vulnerable without even realizing it, and if I felt safe enough, I would say these could be best friends. But in truth I am terrified. What if I bared my soul, just as they did, and really it will become nothing? What if this closeness I felt turns into regret after a night of sleep? I can’t be forgotten again. What if they allow the meaning to die after a week? I can feel post camp depression chasing me down, and I haven’t felt this since high school. I refuse to let it have me, but what if that means reconstructing the walls I just knocked down?
All I know is that I need to trust God. He’s leading me down interesting roads, but I know I will be better for it. It’s time to rest in His presence permanently, and let Him restore me. Restoration comes in many ways, sometimes from conversations with old friends, and sometimes with sunrises with new ones. My God is not a God of fear, but one of love and of power. Trust in that. Trust in that. It was not all for nought.