Camp Meeting Pt. 1 // Notes
This was the first camp meeting without my Papa there. So, it was weird. I feel like my emotions are like a faucet and, as of now, everything is shut off. I can acknowledge that my Papa wasn't there the first time in the 13 years I've been going to camp meeting, but I don't feel anything about it. One day something or someone is going to open that faucet, the hot and cold both, to full blast. I'm not going to be ready for that, but I also don't know how to turn them on slowly, gradually by myself.
One message at a night service especially resonated with me. Often Christians talk about being "Christ-like", but now I don't think trying to be like Him is enough. I see people trying to be Christ-like all the time and often I find them not being true to that description. Pastor H. talked about being one with Christ, to be completely absorbed into His being. I think outside of the context of the sermon that sounds a bit scary or creepy. But I promise, it's not creepy. ~Being One~ with Christ means loving other people without reservation and without judgement. It also means being... this is difficult to put into words... being your own version of Christ. I mean, I can't be Jesus. But I can be so much like Him that people can see that. They can see me talking the talk and walking the walk. I can be Shelby: FULFILLED. Like, you may be a really good plumber and that may not seem like a job where being one with Christ is important, but it is. It's not your interaction with the pipes that provides the opportunity, it's when you interact with people. It's when you don't swindle people, you treat them fairly. It's when you offer to do the extra. It's when you actually do-how did this happen-care.
Recently I've been thinking about Christ and His life. And using His life as model for my own. For instance, he loved everyone. Unconditional, true, sincere, unfiltered love for other individuals on the planet can save us all. But it's also scary, it's challenging, it's allowing vulnerability into your life. The more you love, the more chance of pain. The increased chance that you'll screw up royally. The increased chance that you will have to actually devote more than an hour and a half to other people. Also, if you choose to love others so fully, and you tell others that you're doing so, the increased chance that you will on multiple occasions be criticized for not "practicing what you preach". Why would I want to burden myself?
Because people. The second lesson I find most glaringly obvious in Christ's life is people are worth it. They are worth the burden, pain, and criticism. They're worth putting yourself second. Every person you meet knows or understands something you don't. So when you meet that other person, dig for that knowledge, that understanding, that treasure. Not only are other people useful for their knowledge, but generally speaking, they usually have pretty cool stories. Also, it makes you feel nice to be nice. I love to make people laugh, sure, I may exaggerate a scenario here or there, but that smile or laugh is worth it. I may flail and make bug eyes when telling these EPICS, but watching another person follow my actions with their eyes is rewarding, maybe even a little bit fulfilling. AND THEN, when these "other people" return with their own story or their own witty comment, I get to laugh and experience that simple joy. And it's like we've given each other the best gift ever. Other people are worth it. At their best, at their worst; they are worth it.
Unfortunately for me, expressing that love is not easy. I suffer from introvertedness (as does the rest of the internet). This basically means I love to be alone. In my own world. In my own room. ALONE. So I have to come up with other ways to share this love. I mean, I could stand on a street corner with a sign that says I LOVE YOU, but... no thanks. Instead, I write blog posts about it. It's easier for me to write these things down. Also, I write letters to people. Or I make people things. It's easier for me. You just have to find the method that works. And even though you think it may kill you, you have to try new things. I want to work in my community and I'd love to be a part of the Big Sister program and I want to be kind to people and make new friends. All of those things are possible. You get that, right? What you're wanting to do is actually possible. It's just doing it. Doing it is the hardest part. Taking initiative is the hardest part. Stepping out the front door and into the old theatre downtown and asking if you can volunteer there is the hardest part. Being not-awkward or uncomfortable around other people is the hardest part. Wishing life was scripted, and you were always a page ahead, is the hardest part.
THAT BEING SAID, I have this complicated introvert-extrovert dichotomy where I also love human interaction. *sigh* This means that despite all the feelings acknowledged in the previous paragraph, I crave being around other people. Excuse me waiter, I would like to be friends with everyone... to go. Why do people have to be so cool or so interesting or tell good jokes or be creative or make me laugh or be unexpectedly kind? It would be so much easier if people were just like angry trolls that bit your ankles.But they're not.
People are so cool and I want to be with those cool people and bask and interact with their coolness. Everyone has that coolness too. If they don't have it, they used to. Some people really get in a bad place and do bad things. Their lost coolness should either be mourned or salvaged. I vote for the latter. Which, by the way, can actually be salvaged. It takes a couple deep conversations and a little sweet tea, but it can be salvaged. I may be joking slightly, but I do believe in the potential for good in the individual. In you. That's why people are worth it! Their worth seeing that potential fulfilled. I may not have anything to do with that fulfilled potential, but that doesn't make me any less proud! People doing good and being kind gives me hope AND the desire to be good and kind too!
So, what should I say? That it's easy? It's easy to be kind and to love without judgement and to walk out of the front door and into another? That would be a lie. It's hard. I stumble, crash, and fall all the time. And it's not like I've had this understanding of love and being one with Christ and caring since I was born. That's a thing that has developed over time. So there are probably people who I have known that might think I'm being dishonest or a hypocrite. That sucks. Mostly because I have been all of those things. Mostly because the probability of me being those things is greater than me not. I'm not good at perfect love. It takes practice. So does forgiveness, kindness, and not-awkward interactions with other people. The only thing I can promise you is that I will practice. I won't always hit my bat against the ball, bowl a strike, or do a perfect pirouette. Shoot, sometimes I'll show up to batting practice without the bat. I'll fumble the ball. I'll trip. I'll be clumsy like Bambi learning to walk, except I'll be less adorable. I'll face plant in the middle of the cafeteria. I'll criticize, judge, and assume. I'll be off-putting and angry and snarky. I'll be all of those things, plus a ton. But I can promise you this... I'll practice.
Part 1 of 3