That feeling when you finish watching an intense movie and it ends with you sitting on the edge of your seat.
That feeling when you instantly want to see the next sequel but it hasn’t been made.
Another year of summer camp has passed. It was intense with more kids attending than ever. Counsellors and staff are exhausted having pumped love and joy constantly throughout the week.
We don’t do it for the kudos–
We do it for the kiddos—
We sincerely trust this week gives them hope.
We all have a story. You never know what someone else is living whether it’s in the middle of the city or the burbs. It’s easy to judge when your vantage point is up on a pedestal. But when you get down to hang with these kids you see something totally unique. The hardest part of camp is saying goodbye and wondering how their story will continue. Yeah, we’re exhausted but they go back… To what?
I realize the love of God… How He came to us in the flesh to hang with us for a while. He lived and breathed with us. When it was over He said, “Let me take your place.”
I’m not looking for a pat on the back.
I’m writing these words to convey the emotion.
I get it… I wish I could take their place. I sincerely wish I could somehow swap places with them to give them respite from the struggles they face each day.
Christian faith is what this is. It’s unique to any other religion because of this element, Christ alone. Many have a theory of god. But this God of ours, He is the only God who came to us as a savior, not just a prophet or a teacher… A living, breathing Savior. He said, “Give it to me. I’ve got this.”
While none of us can physically jump in to take the place of someone in crisis, we can come along side of them to lighten their burdens. That is what respite care is.
That is what foster care should be.
This is what Christian Faith should be.
I’m making this synonymous comparison this morning in a two-fold message. As I write out my emotions on the back side of camp, I realize what God wanted me to see and put into words. So before my feet hit the floor on this new day, I’m writing it out to document my emotions so I don’t forget.
I was given the opportunity to be one of the camp photographers this year. To moved about with all of the campers to capture their experience in photos they could take home. So when they are back in the trenches of life, they have tangible evidence they experienced joy, love, happiness, patience, understanding, and faithfulness. I was blessed by this in countless ways. He gave me eyes to see what He sees… The chance to stare into their faces, into their eyes, into their hearts.
It was beautiful!
On the outside they carry scars from neglect and abuse, but inside their hearts they carry hope. Royal Family counsellors and staff see that hope. God gives them vision to see it with His eyes. He gives them the chance to be His hands and feet to nourish that hope. For some kids, the scarring reaches their hearts and they act out their emotions the way they have learned to cope. No one should be expected to learn to deal with abuse, neglect or abondonment. We can equip them to grow beyond where they have been. We can. It is the only way we will see change. It isn’t a monetary solution, it’s an investment of time and patience.
After winter, I love to watch my garden come back to life. Sometimes I think a perennial plant didn’t survive the harsh winter. It makes me sad to lose a living plant that has bloomed in the past. I crouch down to remove the dry leafs from the plant before I dig it out. Quite often, I discover a hint of life in the plant. I nurture it carefully to see if it will flourish. Sometimes I need to move it to a better location. If it is really weak, sometimes I need to pot it. If I didn’t crouch down to see beyond the dead leaves, I might have dug out the plant to remove it not realizing it was still alive. That’s foster care.
You see beyond the emotional and physical scars to the life within. Sometimes they need transplanting to regain strength. Sometimes they can stay where they are to let their roots grow stronger. Roots are family. When you realize this, you understand why the system is complex. Why the kids feel alliance to their family even though it might be a source of pain… They look into the eyes of their caregivers and still see hope.
This post is complex with analogies of both foster care and Christianity. I pray you are able to see my exhausted prose to the heart of the message.
There is hope.
Don’t throw it away.