June 23, 2005
I am free, free, free!!! God is so awesome. I have been broken and mended by His promise. I know I can let go 100% and give my sin to Him. I am not ashamed. This week has been monumental. I came to church camp to guide girls through the spiritual obstacles and questions, and I have come through the week guided by others. The value of friendship with Godly women is so great, and I need it. I am going to go after it! I need to let go. I need to continue to pray for strength, passion, and salvation. God is so incredible. There are no words that are worthy of the love I have for God. Praise Him, thank Him, and Love Him, EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY! Don't forget this week, it has been life changing.
Guess who the author of this letter is. I'll give you a hint...it was me. Writing a letter to myself.
***I am adding this line of text for anyone who might think this is a joke. It isn't. I still have the hand written letter, and transcribed it last night onto this blog.***
Briefly, why: On the last full night of this church camp (where I was a counselor to a group of 14-16 year old girls), we were told to write a letter to ourselves, complete with self addressed envelopes. We were to describe our experience from the week. The youth staff was going to pray over the letters everyone had written, and when they felt moved to mail one, they would. These letters were to serve to remind us to remember the fire that had been put into us at camp, and the staff hoped that their prayers would be answered and that each person would receive their letter in a time of weak faith and need. I received my letter, appropriately, about 3 weeks after camp. I did not open this letter until at least June of 2006. I knew what it said. I was embarrassed to read my own words, even 3 weeks after I wrote them.
Many people who know me were very happy with me then. They saw that spark, and they just knew that it was the real me. Problem was, it wasn't. It was me, experiencing the mass delusional euphoria of organized religion. Perhaps the church staff saw the farce more so than even I did...I did receive the letter, like I said, three weeks later. Do I believe a prayer brought my letter to the top of the pile to receive postage? No.
I sit now and think about what I experienced during that week. I had 6 girls in my group, one of them my youngest sister. I had instructions on what to say and what not to say. I had assigned discussion/prayer times with each girl that was to last 30 minutes, and an interview followup sheet to fill out on each girl after our discussions.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I absolutely adore teenagers. I can identify with them. In some regard, my appearance (tattoos, etc) help with this. Maybe they don't see me as a "mom" type, so they are more open with me. I was even told by someone with school administration that when I have a degree, I would be best suited in the "alternative" school (aka the "bad" kids). Loving teens is not a popular position in this world of emo teenagers, but it's what I've got. It's a gift.
There was one girl in my group that, not surprisingly, stands out in my memory. She was almost 15, and her father was in prison for raping HER. That was one messed up little girl, and somehow I gained her trust, and she opened up to me about most everything. At the time, I thanked God for the gift I had - the gift of empathy and true compassion. Now, I honestly know that had I been in the position to encounter this young lady outside of any church setting, I would be able to have the same conversation with her, and I would have shared the same hugs and tears that I shared with her there. I broke the "followup report" rule, even then, because I felt that what she had confided in me was very personal (far beyond the very generically put issue I've given here). The trust she had put in me was so great, and it wasn't because I was some woman of God. I wasn't. I was an understanding and compassionate human being, just as I am now.
While I was embarrassed to read my own words just three weeks after they were written, I had no regrets about the conversations I had with that girl, or the ones I had with all of "my" girls. Perhaps I was there for a reason. Some would say that God put me there. I think I was there because I knew someone needed me; someone would benefit from the gift I have.
There was one night when I questioned myself for being honest with these girls. At church camp, I used the phrase, "Are you guys fucking kidding me?!" in response to some normal teenage girl banter. What came out of my mouth was what I had been taught to say, that we are to respect one another and practice reciprocity as Jesus commanded. But, I remember thinking, "why can't these girls see that they should just act like humans!?" This is a side of female-ness that I have never understood and rarely subscribed to - gossip. Blech. It was at this point that I saw the un-Christian aspects of otherwise proclaiming-Christianity girls. We are all so human.
I have written before about how people don't really change, rather, they realize who they really are. I still stand by this concept. In the summer of 2005, I was struggling to keep my marriage together (I was cheating, at least emotionally), and I turned to what seemed to be working for everyone else around me: God. Did it feel good to confess sins? Of course; but not because I believed I was forgiven. It was letting go of a huge secret lie that I absolutely needed to tell someone about: where I was was not WHO I was. It didn't take long for the "spirit" to leave me because it wasn't real. It was mass euphoria.
There's nothing wrong with mass euphoria in and of itself; we can experience it in other facets of life than religion (ie. a concert). What IS wrong with this type of euphoria is the tenets it presents: We sin by keeping God out, and we're forgiven if we let Him in. I remember the sermons. I remember the quiet time. I remember the beauty of the nature around us (Keystone, Colorado). All of these things, at the time, were ascribed to the Maker. If I were an atheist on a camping trip in Colorado with people I could talk to, I could appreciate the beauty of nature and humanity just as easily, and probably more deeply. Realizing that you have a gift is one thing; realizing that it is your choice to utilize your gift through the expression of love is another.