It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on our blog. It seems to always go that way, but this time the several weeks in between entries had little to do with a lack of inspiration. Usually, it feels like I can’t think of anything interesting to write about or anything meaningful to share. This time, it was different.
I’ve had plenty to write about. We’ve been to six amazing camps already this year and met so many new people – people I feel like I have learned so much from. We saw Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and a couple pass-throughs on the way. One camp we visited is experiencing a huge merger. Another had deep, rich history. One has a solo director as their only staff member. One serves inner-city youth FOR FREE. Another provides programming for folks with autism all year round. One had a BAMBOO FOREST, y’all! Every day is so full of experiences and growth and new relationships and making memories.
You’d think I would have something to say about it all.
But, to be honest (which I’m going to be because this is my blog and you chose to read it), I don’t feel like writing because I don’t really know what I’m writing for. Or maybe, who? Or maybe, why? At risk of sounding too existential or too much like an angsty teen – what’s the point of it all?
Right now we are visiting our families back in Pennsylvania over the Easter holiday. We needed some time to be with all of our people here, but also to try and catch up on the intense backlog we have created for ourselves. I don’t know how to describe the way time has bent and warped on this journey. I often call it a whirlwind, but that phrase doesn’t feel quite right. It seems like every 10 days we start time over again. New camp. New people. New schedule. New experiences. New responsibilities. New footage. New work. New problems. New chaos. At some level, I know that time is passing and that life is happening all around us, but it doesn’t feel like we are connected to it. As though every camp visit was one whole lifetime and we have to be ready to do it all again next week.
I’m learning that it’s possible for something so, so good to be so, so, so hard.
So, we’ve been working diligently, trying to grind out all that we have to do without compromising the quality and purpose of our work. But at the same time, this semi-retreat has given us the time and space to really think instead of just swimming as hard as we can upstream. And as hard as it is to say, when we really clear our minds and think, we’re just not sure if this is where God is really calling us right now. I’ve thought for a long time that these thoughts were self-consciousness or doubt from the enemy. We’ve fought hard against them and called on close friends to pray. But still, we are unsure of our purpose.
Right now, I don’t want to write anymore because I don’t see what difference it makes. Our videos are crawling out because we don’t know what good it does to post them anyway. Every time we post on Instagram, we argue over whether it is “good enough” or “genuine” or “on brand.” In those moments, I feel pretty far away from the heart of this project. Trouble is, I’m not sure I know what the heart of it really is. The why eats away at my joy. The for what distracts me from reality. And the God, is this what you want is the hardest question of all.
It makes me nervous to write this publicly. I don’t want people to doubt us or feel betrayed. I also know how frustrating it can be to hear someone so privileged voice complaints. Friends, and even strangers, tell us all the time, “You’re so lucky! Your life is so amazing. I wish I could do that.” And here I am, writing a blog about how hard it is and how down I have been and how unsure I feel of it all. Boo hoo.
I guess I just decided it was time to be honest. And the truth is, I absolutely love this journey. I would give just about anything to be able to do this forever. I love tiny living. Traveling this country, meeting so many amazing people and seeing new places all the time is insane. I still can’t believe it’s real sometimes. Being able to step into the story of each of these camps… I have tears welling up in my eyes just thinking about what an astounding gift that is. This life rules. But we don’t want a life that is full of all these great things and still doesn’t mean squat. And as much as we love this trip and all that we have gained from it, we didn’t want to be the sole beneficiaries.
Sam and I promised that no matter what God led us to, as long as we really believed it was serving others and bringing Him glory, we would do it. We prayed and prayed for God to show us a way we could use our lives and our marriage for something bigger, and Camp to Camp seemed like our answer. It seemed like such a big adventure, and I felt a bit like Moses, but we went. And here we are.
When we were at Camp Grace (previously mentioned as the camp that serves urban youth), we had so many great conversations, especially with their founder and executive director, Dave Pridemore. One night, over Mexican food, Dave taught us about his steps for following God’s call. Dave built Camp Grace from nothing but a vision, and he wanted to share some of his “pro-tips” for following God in big, radical ways. In the middle of it all, he said something that stuck with me, if only because I’m wrestling with it so deeply. He said that when you get to the point where you have answered YES and launched into whatever the “thing” is, there’s nothing to say that thing will be wildly successful.
“YOU have been successful. You answered. You said yes. You were willing. You went and did the thing. So, if that thing is unsuccessful, it’s okay.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t speak that language. Unsuccessful is a four-letter word in this house. If I can’t do it well, I don’t do it at all. How do I reconcile all the work, sacrifice, determination, and passion with a big fat failure? I haven’t yet figured out how to be okay with this little revelation. I know that God was telling me through Dave that it’s okay for Camp to Camp not be everything I thought it would be. But I’m stubborn. Bullheaded even. And I don’t like to do things that seem pointless.
We aren’t quitting, so there’s that.
We still have a schedule of camps planned out through the summer, including a giant trip out west that we’re not sure we can afford. We’re saying yes, every day. If that’s all we can do, we will keep saying yes. It doesn’t feel solid. It’s definitely a wimpy, wavering yes. But I have to believe that somewhere, in all of this, there is a purpose I just can’t see yet.
I don’t have a great, feel-good ending for this one. I’d ask that if you’re reading this, you take the time to pray for us. We could use some renewed passion, and a heaping helping of clarity. I hope this inspires someone, even in a small way, to be honest about something you’re struggling with today. I’m a bit fed up with our culture of putting on a show, and I’d love to just have some open, honest conversations with folks who need a safe place to share. We’re all in this together.