Immaturity, selfishness, thoughtlessness and carelessness. These are the fairly universal traits of an American teenager. This all seems to come built into the undeveloped prefrontal cortex and raging hormones of the emerging adult. Now, I will 100% believe you if you tell me your pubescent angel is amazing. And I believe you without sarcasm. But I also know that, at times, the aforementioned character traits come out to play. And they play so hard that it can get easy to focus on those things and the failings of the younger generation. But I’d like to tell you about a lesson learned in my life, and the credit goes to my 18 year old daughter.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:11-12 NIV
A few weeks ago, a staff member at our church asked me to consider a challenging ministry opportunity. For the sake of privacy and the dignity of others, I won’t get much more descriptive than that. I didn’t even have to think about it. With my Allie moving out and moving on to college I needed a new challenge and something to throw my extra emotional energy into. But after dipping my first toe in, I immediately started to regret this commitment.
All the doubts I carry about myself crept back in. Am I strong enough? Do I know enough? Will I be effective? Can I handle it? And to be honest, my selfishness came to the table as well (it’s not just for teenagers!). It felt hard and I didn’t want to be bothered or sacrifice my time. Really Christ-like thoughts. But then I saw more pictures on social media from Camp Blessing.
My daughter Allie served on staff at Camp Blessing, a sleep-away camp for children and adults with special needs, for the first 6 weeks of the summer. She did wheelchair transfers and changed adult diapers and bathed those who couldn’t shower themselves. Allie (camp name Birdie) dealt with severe behavior issues and stayed up countless hours at night tending her flock of campers. She oversaw hygiene routines and feeding challenges of the mildly to severely physically and mentally handicapped. And she pushed wheelchairs all over campground terrain in the 100+ degree Texas heat.
A Lesson Learned From a Joy Observed
I have one at home with severe impairment. And it’s tough. Allie served 100’s during her tenure at camp. And that is how my teen daughter challenged and motivated me. I found myself thinking, if she can do all of that, I can certainly do this thing that won’t be nearly as physically and emotionally draining. I could sacrifice my time and love others well, just as my girl was doing. And do you know what? She did it with such joy.
Birdie radiated a God given joy and Christ-like love in every picture posted. In our weekend conversations she would tell me about some of the issues she faced and times she was pushed to her limit. My response was, “I’m sorry it wasn’t a good week.” Her response, “I didn’t say that. It was hard, but every week is a good week.” And she meant it. This is what it means to have true joy in serving the Lord. Even when the times or tasks are really tough. And I’m so grateful for a lesson learned through this extraordinary girl. God is so good, and when I grow up (spiritually) I want to be just like her.
And now for this week’s featured post from the link up! There was a lesson learned for me here, too!
Grace and Truth’s own Tammy Kennington gave me the scriptural basis to handle a troubling circumstance right now. Maybe you could use it too. How to Find Peace in Troubled Times. Thank you, Tammy.
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