We certainly have a lot of questions ahead of us about what the summer will hold. Can we answer questions about what 8, 10, 12 weeks for us will look like? Definitely not. But we can do what’s in front of us today. Even Jesus said there’s enough to worry about today, so let’s just stay here for a moment.
A word that has been on my heart recently is embrace.
I can’t wait until we can embrace again. Till we can hug to say hi, hold a friend when they’re hurting, or let someone know you love them.
But I also think embrace can be a helpful lens through which to see the world right now. Pretend you woke up and rather than writing something in a journal or planner or iCal or Google Calendar, your schedule simply said, embrace.
Often, embracing discomfort, is a characteristic of the most respected leaders in their fields.
Kobe Bryant was known for making himself, and his teammates, ridiculously uncomfortable. He was quoted saying:
“I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable. That’s what leads to introspection and that’s what leads to improvement. You could say I dared people to be their best selves.”
Brene Brown, a leading researcher and writer on authenticity and vulnerability right now said:
“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”
The reality is that discomfort produces character. In the New Testament, Paul alludes to what suffering and discomfort can produce in us when he wrote “...because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4 NIV).
This season could also be a great time for you to double down on the question, “who am I?”
Seriously, take a second and ask yourself that. How would you answer that?
You may just write your name and be done. You may find yourself listing adjectives about what you do. You may find yourself writing down who you belong to or where you come from.
When the world quickly strips away a lot of the ways we define ourselves, or at least makes them temporarily inaccessible, it can be scary but eye opening to understand how we’ve let ourselves answer that question - whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Another one of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is:
“What we know matters, but who we are matters more.”
It definitely feels that a lot of the content right now is tending towards the “What we know…” portion of that quote. There is lots of information, guides, and writing on how to grow by way of learning. I’m certainly not trying to diminish that or say that’s bad as we’ll be trying to guide everyone with some of those same resources.
But I am trying to make the case that it is also a great time to spend time on the “who we are” portion of Brene Brown’s idea.
So I’d encourage you to answer that question by writing it down, and then write down your answer. Often what comes to mind first is your name and that makes sense. Names are unique and reveal who we are. Because of that, it can be incredibly valuable to look at the names that God calls us to help determine who we are, and to lean in to that over what we do as our identity.
Here’s a list of a few names and where to find them:
1. Friend (John 15:15)
2. Masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)
3. Treasure (Deuteronomy 7:6)
4. Son (2Corinthians 6:18)
5. Beloved (Song of Songs 2:16)
6. Child (John 1:12)
7. Accepted (Romans 15:7)
8. His (John 17:24)
A popular proverb says “necessity is the mother of invention.”
That means that new ideas is often, if not solely, born out of new needs, and a changing environment or circumstances produce a lot of new needs.
For Camp 75, this has absolutely been the case.
One recent example is that not long ago community engagement was not a part of our language or what we did. But as we had more and more teams and needed new places to serve, we began our community engagement initiatives to provide new opportunities and outlets to be for our city.
And I don’t think it’s being too much of a “glass half full” optimist to think that in this current season, the circumstances have produced needs that will lead to inventions and ideas that will make us better.
What do I mean by make us better?
I mean make Camp 75:
Better at engaging with the community
Better at creating experiences to connect people to God and each other in a digital world
Better at serving in a digital world
Better at creating a wide open front door where everyone can belong before they believe
And so, from a camp perspective, I want you to know we are absolutely embracing opportunity. Our team is daily thinking about how we can lead students to love our community. That includes thinking through helpful content, community opportunities, and online events until we have enough foresight to begin planning what it will look like to be together again.
But for you, personally, it certainly may feel like the outside circumstances have taken away opportunity, but all closed doors open a new one. What opportunities might this create for you instead? Here’s a few ideas:
Maybe it’s an opportunity to lead in your family.
Maybe it’s an opportunity to start writing.
Maybe it’s an opportunity to get prepared for college in a way that you couldn’t before.
Maybe it’s an opportunity to grow your relationship with God through time with Him.
Love big. Dream big.
For years now that has been the heart behind Camp 75. Empowering you, the students, to love people around you, and dream about the impact you can have on the world around you.
But it’s important to note that one has never gone without the other. Dreaming has always led to loving in new ways, and loving in new ways has always led to dreaming in bigger ways.
The changing times that have us tending towards isolation could also have us tend towards just dreaming. Towards thinking. Towards wondering. And while there’s a time and a season for everything, I think we’d be remiss if on the other side of this current season we looked back and all we had were a lot of good ideas.
And here are some things that you can embrace:
Embrace your identity
Everyday right now, we’re given opportunities to lean in or lean out. To engage or disengage. To embrace or to let go.
And the same joy and comfort that can come from an embrace of someone who loves us, can also come when we lean in to discomfort, whether in our current reality or a future one.
So let’s embrace today as we move forward. Tomorrow, we’ll embrace tomorrow. But today, we can embrace the discomfort of the unknown, the foundation of who we are, and the opportunities that closed doors have created.
We’ve made a few screensavers that you can save and use as your inevitably using your phone more than usual in this season, and each time you look at it, remind yourself to lean in a little more, to engage rather than to give up, and to embrace what today holds.