The summer of a lifetime is thoroughly documented over 151 pages in my journal, recording the successes and the failures, the disappointments and the victories, and through it all the ways I’ve grown. It amazes me to see how God has so beautifully woven all of these themes together and answered every prayer. So here is an abbreviated version of that chapter of my story.
May 24th. Well, the big day is almost here — I leave for camp tomorrow. I’m so nervous and have no idea what to expect, but at the same time I feel like God is giving me a calming peace. I know I won’t come back from camp the same person I was when I left, and it feels weird knowing I’m leaving myself behind. I feel so unprepared, but I fully expect God to overcome my weakness with His glorious strength. Our theme is Superheroes, after all — “That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In my weakest moments, God, showcase Your power through me! Fill me, that I may pour out to others. Be present and active at Deer Run this summer. Change lives that are desperate for You. Reveal Yourself to the staffers, the campers, the parents. Fill this place with Your Spirit, bringing life and health and strength and energy as we seek to make Your name known. And in those moments of stress and exhaustion when I need to get away and refuel…take me back to the dance floor at the foot of the cross. You’re all I need.
May 31st. At tonight’s devotional we washed each other’s feet. It was a really powerful experience, and more than a few of us were in tears by the end of it. We were instructed to come up one by one and wash the feet of whoever God had laid on our heart. So I was completely shocked when Mrs. Sharon, of all people, knelt in front of me and started to take off my Chacos. As she lowered my feet into the basin, tears began to stream down my face. She gently washed my feet and dried them, and then hugged me and prayed for me. I remember what she said pretty much word for word: “My prayer for you this summer is that you will know how long and how wide and how high and how deep is the love of Christ, and that you will let His love fill your life. Be married to Him, forever and ever, and when a young man comes into your life, he’ll just be the icing on the cake. I love you, Lauren, and I want you to be blessed.”
June 1st. One other thing Mom said in devo last night: “Confusion is never from God.” That really spoke to me because I feel like Satan uses my desire for control and my perfectionist tendency of wanting everything laid out to try to confuse me and distract me from the main goal. I mentioned this to Andrea, and she suggested that I write it down and continue to let that thought of control and confusion in any area of my life shape me this summer, and return to the concept every now and then throughout the summer to see what God has taught me and what has changed. Also Colin wrote me a note that had one sentence in it that really spoke to where I am right now: “Seek the things of God intimately and let the rest pan out.”
June 24th. I feel unprepared for this week, but that’s probably right where God wants me, depending on Him.
July 2nd. In a place where I’m very broken right now. I just started feeling overwhelmed last night with a million and one tangled thoughts. I didn’t sleep well last night so now I’m super tired and just trying not to be consumed with all this pointless analyzing. I have to let go and be HERE, in the moment. God…I need You this week.
July 3rd. Still struggling with balancing responsibility with relationship, the way I did the first week. I’m trying to get back in the mindset of capturing every moment. I feel like they’re slipping away, but I’m tired…so tired. Yet I feel like I’m trying to be in control, and I think that’s the problem lately. I haven’t been falling into the arms of Jesus for strength — I’ve been playing a role, going through the motions. I don’t want to be that way, God. I want — I need — to be wholly surrendered and dependent on You. So whatever You have to do, bring it on. Yeah, I prefer when things are “easy.” But if they have to be hard for me to get it, I’m ready to pay the price of my stubborn pride. For the most part, today went smoothly. But here’s the thing: smooth doesn’t mean anything if I don’t accomplish anything. So here’s to tomorrow, and pouring myself out till I’ve got nothing left. I want to make it a day they’ll remember because they experienced God, because they felt His love. So Lord, break me down and work through me when I’ve got nothing to offer.
July 6th. My desire for my life can be reduced to one sentence: My God, to follow Your lead in everything.
July 16th. There’s a battle going on in my mind. Have I poured out enough? Why have none of my kids accepted Christ? Was there something I could, or should, have done differently? Looking back, I’m not sure what I would change, but I still feel like there’s something missing. I’m hoping that the last few weeks will be the transition that I need, that they will be what is vaguely absent, that they will tie up the loose ends and give me the peace I need to move on from Deer Run. It all condenses into the one big, soul-searching question: Have I made a difference here?
July 18th. The last 3 nights I’ve walked back from the staff cabin without a flashlight, in darkness so thick I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, to kind of emphasize the “walking by faith, not by sight” theme. Maybe if I can learn to do it physically, it will be a step in the spiritual growth process as well. Ironic, then, that the moon was slightly more visible tonight, and it’s the first time I’ve ever been afraid. Maybe it’s actually easier in the pitch black. If that’s the case, Lord, take all control and lead me. I want to have faith that doesn’t need to see the path.
July 19th. I need to start expecting God to take these prayers seriously, and be ready for the consequences. Today, for the first time, I’ve truly let this confusion and anxiety over relationships go. I guess this is God leading me into the uncharted territory of contentment in singleness. This week I have been so full that there’s really not room for my drama. After all, no guy will ever complete me. It has to be Him. I also feel like He’s helping me let go of Deer Run — after this week, I feel no regret. I’ve poured out everything and invested so much in these girls emotionally, and it feels incredible.
July 21st. I’m at Pinkerton Park, sitting on the roots of a tree overlooking the river, down a steep muddy trail in a shady secluded spot. It’s so peaceful here. I needed this time. I’ve been with God all week, so it’s not like I don’t feel close to Him, but I really needed some time today to love Him in a different way. It’s been amazing to see how He has filled my deepest needs this week as I am learning to be truly content in Him alone. I’ve felt His presence this week in a different way than ever before, like we’re working together and I haven’t felt alone. It’s a deeper level of intimacy than I’ve ever experienced. It was as soon as I let go of my fear of the future and being single forever, that I reached this new level of relationship with God. I guess He was just waiting on me to trust Him all along before He revealed more of Himself to me. Funny how it took me so long to let go and reach for something better.
July 27th. I feel like God is continuing to wrap things up in my heart. I’m seeing all the change that has happened this summer, and I’m so excited about it. I remember freaking out in the weeks leading up to DR, stressing over every little detail. I remember not being able to go in public without makeup. I remember how self-conscious I used to be. Dang, I really have changed a lot.
August 2nd. Lord, I’ve been asking You to help me let go of Deer Run…but now I want to ask You to help me hold on, too. I want to hold onto the things I’ve learned, the person I’ve become, the amazing friends I’ve made and the community I’ve experienced. I don’t want to be stuck in the past, but I want to move forward to live in the present fully, in the ways this summer has shaped me and changed me. This is so hard to process…but God, You know what I need. And You really do give good gifts.
August 6th. Camp ending was bittersweet. I cried saying goodbye, but as I drove home I honestly felt more joy and excitement than anything else. I was listening to Casting Crowns, and a line from The Well stood out to me: “And now that you’re full of love beyond measure, your joy’s gonna flow like a stream in the desert. Soon all the world will see that living water is found in Me, because you came to the well.” That’s such a beautiful way to express the transition I’m making in going back to school and my “normal” life. I’m just praying that God will continue to use me as powerfully as He has at Deer Run. So instead of wasting the week and a half that I have here at home, I’m going to try to be purposeful in filling up even more and preparing for what God has for me this fall.