Snow Camp and Rule Breakers

This past weekend I headed north with 700+ students, my fellow small group leaders (Aren’t we a good-looking bunch?), coaches and church staff to SpringHill Camp for what is lovingly referred to as “Snow Camp” 2018 edition.

I usually take a lot of flack around this time of year. Everyone loves reminiscing about my very first weekend as a small group leader when I showed up without a sleeping bag, or a pillow, or shampoo or conditioner or body wash or …well okay, the underwear was a bit extreme; that’s fair… but I promise you there are places that provide all of the other things for you. For the record, they’re called hotels and they’re amazing.

Each time I go to one of these weekends, I end up learning a little bit more.

A little bit more about roughing it (with plumbing and heat and electricity, of course). I remembered all of my clothes this trip. I packed a flashlight. A selfie stick (obviously). Wool socks. Heavy duty gloves. Layers. I even packed Poo-Pourri for the cabin which I assure you was indeed worth it. Have you ever spent a weekend with a cabin full of people and camp food? Enough said.

A little bit more about people, most of whom seem to function a little bit better on very little sleep, camp cuisine, and copious amounts of coffee than I.

And a little bit more about myself.

Some years it’s spiritual. Or it’s about my friendships and the joy of being around other people. Sometimes it’s about just how competitive I really am. This year, it was about caring less about rules and what that feels like. It was about fun. About taking a walk on the wild side!

Okay, the moderately untamed side.

Fine, the mostly tamed side.

I’ve been mulling over some thoughts recently about rule following and what that looks like as a child of God. Spoiler alert: I don’t think it means what I thought it meant. 

Growing up, we’re taught rules of obedience. Think 10 Commandments. We have should and should nots to consider and, for a natural born rule follower like myself, it can feel pretty nice to be able to draw lines down the split of right and wrong. I am a great rule follower. That must mean I’m a pretty good follower of Christ, yes?

I’ve been reading more and more of the Bible recently and the people in these stories have one glaring thing in common: They’re rule breakers. Rule followers like me subscribe to certain truths; 99% of them follow rules because they favor security (that statistic has been entirely fabricated based on my own personal truth). Some of these Bible characters are reformed rule followers, I’ll give you that. But these are people who are called to stand out against the rules. Break the norms. Confront leadership. Tell them they’re wrong. Social status? See ya. Respect among your peers? Nope. Let’s be honest, on top of having little concern for security, a lot of them were grade A weirdos (I get that that’s not really relevant here but I needed to get that off my chest).

If we’re made up of a series of strengths and weaknesses rather than good and bad then I’m starting to see my friends with a little bit more of that rule-breaking edge as having a competitive advantage over me in the realm of being a Christ follower. *GASP* They’re less prone to worry and more prone to action. When God calls, are they more inclined to move?

Spontaneity is not one of my strengths. If someone tells me that I need to move across the country and leave my things behind, you know what I would say? No. I have a job. People depend on me. There are loose ends that need to be tied up. What would people think? I like it here. I have food in my fridge that I need to eat first.

There is a pattern of movement to which society subscribes, to which I subscribe. They’re essentially social rules and I’m starting to see that following them doesn’t make me a great Christ follower.

So this weekend, I let my girls fling rubber frogs across the auditorium long after the time to do so had passed. I encouraged them. I joined them. I signed my name on a bunk; it always seemed wrong as a kid but I did it. I ran up to the edge of the tubing hill and went face first over the drop. The tubing hill attendant assured me that doing so wasn’t breaking the rules but it still felt a lot like breaking the rules.

They’re little things. They’re not illegal and they’re not hurting anyone (There may have been a few errant frogs but I promise they were only minor annoyances). The point is, these things aren’t exactly following the rules either. And since I’ve been taking a more honest look at the strengths of those around me, I’ve realized that I need to flex that muscle if I want it to work when God calls on it.

Don't Just Because You Can.

There’s something to be said about living with purpose. This spans several topics of conversation and areas of life. Don’t do something just because you can. It isn’t enough. Don’t act to act or speak to speak. Act to achieve and speak to inform. If you don’t have the desire, don’t play the game. If you do, then make it more than a game.

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.

It’s time to appreciate the sacrifice of others; don’t take it for granted. Don’t mistake it as weakness. It’s not; sacrifice signifies strength. Think of the way things could’ve gone, the way they would’ve gone. It’s different now. When you act, act with purpose.

Step up or step out but there are no lines to ride, no gray area. Above all, live with purpose and respect those with whom you interact. Respect me with the same respect I give to you.

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. Don’t do it just because you can.

Naps Make Me Sleepy.

I never take naps, except today it seemed like a good idea. I got up at 4:30am to volunteer at the Detroit Zoo for the Scleroderma Foundation (scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that effects the growth of skin cells). The Foundation hosted a walk/run to raise money for finding a cure and I was invited to set up and sign in participants by the Live to Give Foundation (L2G) (check out this non-profit if you haven’t yet – started by two U of M graduates who are currently 24/25 years old and doing amazing things!). I’m driving to Grand Rapids later in the evening so a nap seemed appropriate. But now that I’ve napped, I’m feeling more sluggish than before. What is that?

I’m days away from moving back to Grand Rapids and I think that God has been doing a lot of heavy lifting lately. What I mean to say is that I think God wants to be able to watch me use the skills and abilities He has given me to seek out opportunities, to let me take the initiative and be proactive. Lately, however, He’s been the proactive one and I’ve been the recipient of His hard work. I’ve done some amazing things in the past 10 months but I wonder if the majority of it hasn’t resulted from someone else’s action, urging, or initiative. On the plus side, I believe that God sees when we’re struggling to keep our head above water so He sends us people to help us swim. Even so, I feel incredibly blessed by His action through others.

What I have had to do on my own, however, is remember who I am. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but it has taken me quite a while to get back to a positive starting point. Some things, in particular, that I’ve recalled?

  • I’m strong. I’m not some faint flower who can’t do anything on my own and needs the constant support of those around me. In fact, I want to be strong enough that I can hold myself up and share the yolk of my friends and family. I think I unknowingly put a lot of pressure on the people around me by always needing them to hold me up. Like a wet noodle. And we all know…There’s only one thing a wet noodle is good for and that’s spaghetti! What does that mean? Hell if I know.
  • I’m funny. Really funny. I actually think I’m hilarious, which I think is funny in itself. But the truth is when I forget that I’m funny, I wait around for someone else to make me laugh and I stop looking for humor in my own life. Life is much more fun when it’s humorous.
  • I’m smart. It’s easy to overlook my own intelligence when I’m surrounded by people who are “at my level.” Think about it. Above average feels average when everyone around me is above average too, right? But here is what I’ve realized: Someone else’s intelligence does not negate my own.
  • I’m competent and I’m capable. During my internship, I went from furrowing my brow over a Michigan state tax return to completing multiple state returns and filing changes in accounting. I’m able.
  • I can beat my fears. Go back to being strong. My fears don’t own me. And they can’t paralyze me unless I let them. I’ve also come to realize that most of my fears have less to do with the actual challenge at hand and a lot more to do with the fear of being embarrassed (except when it comes to bugs and collar bones *shudder*). Being embarrassed really is a silly fear. Mind over matter. “I’ll be embarrassed if I try this and flop.” No. “If I try this and flop, I’ll be proud of myself for trying and it’ll give me something to laugh about in the future.” It’s easier said than done, but it can be done.
  • I’m adaptable. Put me in a situation (within bounds of reason) and I’ll figure it out. New surroundings or challenges don’t have to derail me. I’ll adjust. I can be okay with changing my plans, whether or not I’d like to.
  • I’m fun! I’d hang out with me. Would you hang out with you? (Hint: The answer should be yes.)
  • I’m a positive person. This is the second to most important thing I’ve remembered about myself. I think (Okay, okay. So I know. But who really wants to acknowledge that?!) that I’ve been a negative Nancy for too long. Arms folded. Bad attitude. Debby Downer. WHAT?!? That’s SO. NOT. ME. I mean, sure, it was me. But it’s not me! At my core, I’m a positive Polly. And I don’t know how I came to take on this negative persona. I think maybe it started as some attempt at being a hard ass and just spiraled downward. Haha, because I’m soo incredibly tough, right? Please.
  • #1 on the list? I have a lot to offer and I am worthy. I can recall multiple situations where I met people and suddenly forgot that. I stood like a wallflower as people passed around exciting stories because I thought I didn’t have anything to add. Seriously? I may only be in my 20’s but I have a lot to offer and I am worthy.
  • I feel like it sounds pompous to list it out like this, but go through the list and tell me if you feel the same about yourself. You should.