The amount of personal growth and just life-changing (or at least "life-shifting" for the time being) things that I experienced at camp was pretty amazing. God really placed a lot of people and situations in my life during that month that made it so clear to me that ministry is where my heart needs to be. And not just where it needs to be, where it really longs to be. I've just been afraid and uncertain about whether or not it was time to make a decision that would change a lot about my life. To make a long story short, I quit soccer. All year I struggled with the fact that I give my whole heart and soul, all my time and energy, to soccer. And I really do love it, and I really love my teammates more than anything, so it was a hard decision to make. But God has made it so clear that it was the right decision to make. Through the people I've crossed paths with and the opportunities to truly be a part of "His mission" He has made it very clear that there is something so much better ahead. We're going to start Young Life in Jonesboro again. When I say "we," I mean that I've been talking with the regional director, and he wants to come up and do some leadership training with some ASU students (which is my job--to find them) and get reconnected with some of the adults in the community that he knows. I've left a lot of little details out of this story that make it all make a lot more sense, because I don't want to write an entire novel tonight. But it's really been cool to see God use so many random people and situations to get me to this point. It was definitely not by chance that any of it happened.
Aside from big, life-changing decisions, God has just been so present all summer. It's been weird being at home in a city where I don't know anyone besides my family. My Dad has been gone a lot because he spent a month at camp right after I did, and this week he is at camp with his kids from Houston. So it's been sort of sad to not get a whole lot of quality time with him, but the little bit of time we have gotten has been really sweet. It's really just been me and my mom most of the time, and it is amazing how much we've gotten along. Not that we don't love each other, we just have always been so different and struggled so much in relating to each other, etc., that it's always been hard to be "good friends" I guess. It has truly been a god-sighting to me this summer to see how enjoyable our time together has been.
I feel like the loneliness has been good, even though it has really sucked. It's made me pray differently, almost more intimately, because my alone time with Jesus has truly been "time to talk with a friend"... and as lame as it sounds, I don't have any of those around here! I've learned a lot about myself, I've been alone with myself enough this summer to really see my strengths and weaknesses come out with nothing or no one to mask them. It's been a growing experience, for sure. I'm starting to reach the point where I might actually go insane soon--I'm glad to be going to Charlotte next week to spend some time with some friends from Summer Staff. I know that the highlight of my summer was definitely my month at Windy Gap. I'm sure it will forever be one of the highlights of my entire life. There was some scripture that we focused on the whole time we were there, and I really think it's been sort of a theme for the summer. If there is one thing I think of forever, every time I look back on this summer, I hope it's this:
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." -Mark 8:34-35
I feel like I really learned what it means to live out that verse this summer. To lose your life for Him in order to save it. To completely deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. As much as it's scary and completely unknown, I can't wait to see where God takes me on this new journey over the next year. It will be fun to continue to look back as I continue to grow. But man, I hope there is never another summer as lonely as this one has been ever since I got home on June 22nd!