Monday, June 30, 2008

A Little Jumbled, But A Start

Disclaimer: This is a VERY LONG post that contains a lot of my own personal values and beliefs, some of which I am still currently hashing out. Feel free to comment, but please don't get angry with me for expressing them and leave me nasty comments. You may not agree, and that's ok. Please forgive the fact that these thoughts may come out a little's all stuff that has been rattling around in my head for the past couple of weeks and I'm simply trying to get it all into logical, coherent ideas.

I've been thinking a lot about camp in the last week or so. I think I'm getting myself mentally and spiritually ready for my time there (July 5-11)...I'm not sure why, but this year's camp feels like there's a whole lot more riding on it than usual. (Or you can just chalk it up to more pregnancy hormones) A big part of what I've been thinking about is my testimony and my own personal values and beliefs. Planned or not, somehow the leaders' testimonies come out during the nightly cabin time, whether it be all at once or gradually throughout the week. This thought is somehow made all the more potent by the fact that the main speaker for this session is the same man who first introduced me to the idea of a relationship with Jesus...which led to me becoming a Christian. It's like my time in Young Life has come full circle.

Speaking as someone who started in Young Life as a camper, the week you spend at camp can easily become one of the most life-changing weeks of your life. I wish I could adequately describe what happens there, but I could write all day and still not scratch the surface of what camp is. In a nut shell, it's walking out of the pressures of day to day teenage life into a 5 star resort surrounded and protected by the love of God. It's a place that specifically caters to teenagers, in terms of letting them become kids again. These days, kids are asked to grow up way too soon...becoming parents to their younger siblings because their parents are too drunk or high on drugs, having to call 911 because their dad is beating the crap out of their mom in front of them, having sex at age 13 or 14, coming to school drunk or high almost every day...if you think that these things don't happen on a regular basis, even in Baker, you're sadly mistaken. Not with every kid, but definitely with more kids than you would think.

These are the stories that come out during our nightly cabin time; the time after club where we all sit on the floor, talk about the questions from the talk, and often stray into deeper subjects. Subjects that the girls are dying to share with an adult who will listen and understand, who can't ground them for their past mistakes, and who will be honest about having made the same mistakes themselves. I can't count the number of times I cried last year when I heard about the things my girls have gone through. I admit to making some major mistakes and doing things I'm not proud of back in high school, but some of these stories overreach the things I was even aware of back then. Maybe I was naive...or maybe high school has just become a whole different beast in the past 6 years.

Perhaps it's because I have more of an inside view of what is happening to our teenagers (both as a Young Life leader and as a law enforcement dispatcher), but I have very little patience for missionaries who come to our church to guilt us into giving money to struggling churches in far-off countries. It seems like our churches today focus more on helping those who are far removed from us...why can't they see that while they reach out across the distance, their very future is being torn down around them? That their children, while their focus is elsewhere, are finding their "god" in things like drugs and sex. And let me "their children", I don't necessarily mean Christian's flesh and blood children, although that isn't completely uncommon either. I mean those kids who don't have the parents to give them guidance. Maybe if, rather than focusing on people we'll never meet, we focus on loving the kids who will become our future, we'll see a change in our entire world. Focus on your own backyard, people...they're dying for that love.

I recently finished reading a book that talked about the values, or lack there of, that we're passing on. It was a fictional book, but it hit close to home on a lot of ways. One of the most notable ideas that stuck with me is the idea that when we, as a society, decided that the old values no longer applied and got rid of them, we didn't replace them with any new values to guide people with. As a result, anything goes. Want to experiment with a few drugs? Go ahead! Want to have sex with as many partners as you want? Go ahead! Want to have an abortion to get rid of the baby that resulted from one of those many partners (yes I went there)? Go ahead! Never mind that these things tear you apart, body mind and soul.

I think of myself as a fairly liberal person. I even prided myself on being known as the liberal Christian among my college friends. But maybe the fact that I'm going to become a mother soon is making me rethink the ideas that I swallowed hook line and sinker while I was in college. For example, I have many friends who are pro-choice. Yet no matter how liberal I thought myself to be, this was one idea I could never buy into. And now even more than before. I've heard the argument that it's just a blob of tissue, that having it removed is no more scarring that having an insulting appendix removed or a root canal performed. And yet how many people have you heard of needing Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder counseling for a root canal? Or marriages ending? Or the mother (and sometimes father) ending their lives?

I admit that while in college, I became one of the people who railed against "outdated values". So what I'm writing here could possibly be thought of as a little hypocritical. But the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe chucking those values is exactly what led us to where we are now. To the diseases, to the drugs, to the broken families. And perhaps the lack of taught values are directly leading to the broken lives I see in the teenagers I take to camp.

I just pray that I will know the right things to say. That I will know the right comfort to give. That my own changing and developing beliefs and values won't leak out to just further confuse the girls I will be spending this next week with. I hope I can just get of of God's way and let Him work through me to love these girls the way they deserve to be loved.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Amen. I am so glad you have such a heart and passion for those teenagers, and that the values you believe in will be witnessed to them. I pray you had a wonderful experience at camp and that God did amazing things through you to those kids who are hurting from our "brave new world."

I also can't wait to see how great a mom you are going to be to those boys. :-)

P.S. Eliot and I have a plan to get them some tin whistles as soon as they can hold them lol!