Saturday, August 8, 2015

Being a Nostalgic

I’m feeling nostalgic right now.  As my summer here at Indian Creek Camp comes to a close, I reflect back over the many experiences I’ve gone through during the past few months.  It’s definitely been a fairly different summer from what I was anticipating, but that’s not a bad thing.  Perspective is nice.  Hindsight is 20/20.  This Spring I had several options I considered for a summer job and yet I chose to do summer camp one last (I’m pretty sure, anyway) time.  Did I impact the kids like I was hoping?  Was I able to share Jesus amongst the hectic schedule and craziness of camp life?  Some answers I may never know.  But I do know that God called me here this summer to grow me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed growth in.  It’s been a wonderful experience over all with lots of time spent out on the lake teaching kids how to ski and wakeboard and many quiet hours at The Point watching sunsets.  Each week this summer was just a little bit different, keeping life interesting and lively.  During the younger kids’ weeks, the energy is ubiquitous and days are nonstop.  With the older teens, the atmosphere is more chill but the drama increases in conjunction with their age.  Family camps were super busy as we catered to the different families and their various needs.  Blind camp was, well, eye opening to say the least.  We would have to lead the campers everywhere and more often than I’d like to admit, I would forget to tell them about the end of the sidewalk or a hand rail sticking into their path.  I’ll never forget one of my campers who would always respond to my apology with a quick, “It’s ok, you didn’t mean to!”  Complete dependence on other people and yet he was so quick and willing to forgive.  The blind campers were genuine and real with their emotions.  Nobody could laugh as hard or cheer as loud as them.  You could take the mic and simply say, “Hay-low folks!” in a deep Southern drawl and they’d start cheering and laughing.  Hispanic camp was amazing.  Just when all our camp staff were dragging at the end of the summer, they brought new energy into our lives.  They live to love and love to live!  Everything we’d been doing all summer was taken to a whole new level with canoe races and blobbing challenges and archery competitions.  And soccer tournaments.  Of course.  The ICC staff had a team and we lost 2-1.  But hey, we were on the scoreboard at least.  After the sun went down, a large group would gather together on the hill and dance under the moonlight.  I somehow got paired up to dance as well, joining in with the laughter and picking up some more Spanish words here and there.  50+ camp was full of about one hundred sassy seniors, as they like to call themselves.  Never have I seen so many elderly people with so much spunk and pizazz in one place before.  They wanted to tube and ski and ride horses and don’t even think of asking them if they are alright or need help!  Comedy night with them was hysterical.  I was driving the pontoon boat during one of our outings and an older gentleman asked me how I could stand to be around such crazy people.  I quickly responded that I couldn’t and that was why I was sitting in the driver’s seat.  This summer has definitely been filled to the brim with memories that I will cherish forever.

Over the years I’ve realized that I’m a Nostalgic.  We look at life just a little bit differently from most people, giving us advantages in some areas and holding us back in others.  We’re focused on the past.  We love new adventures mainly because we want to make new memories.  We enjoy talking about past accomplishments and we LOVE to tell stories.  Our life is one long story.  We don’t open up to just anyone though because our stories make up who we are.  They are precious to us.  If we tell you our past, feel privileged!  We can sometimes become good friends with someone and yet they have no clue about seven-eighths of our life experiences.  This is because we want to guard our past, not revealing our mistakes and protecting our achievements.

We realize that our personal story is just a small piece in the large puzzle of life.  For this reason we have an acute appreciation for history.  We can never recite dates or names very well from sheer memorization, but we will spend hours attempting to understand what was really going on during a certain historical event.  While most people ask what year Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and how many ships he had with him, we ask about what drove him to keep searching for new land.  Did he know it was there from Norse accounts?  Was he just gambling, hoping to find riches in the new land?  Did his past, full of lust and debauchery, push him to compensate by doing something great that people would long remember?  What was going through his mind during those long hours and days filled with nothing but uncertainty and ocean mist?  What about his crew?  We put ourselves into the shoes of a lowly deck hand, not yet fifteen and trying his endurance out on the high seas of adventure.  We see history through our emotions.

In fact, we see life through our emotions.  It doesn’t matter to us whether we are driving a Maserati worth over a hundred thousand dollars or a beat up pickup we got at an auction for 700 bucks.  We simply remember whether we were driving into the sunset while holding hands with someone we loved or whether we were driving home from our best friend’s funeral.  We don’t have to have the fanciest clothes, the coolest phone, or the classiest meals.  As long as it works, we’re happy.  And if it doesn’t?  Sometimes those experiences make the best memories…  What’s more important to us is that we have someone to share memories with.

We don’t mind being alone though.  Emotions can be overwhelming sometimes.  We’re not introverts by any means.  We love people.  We love being with people.  People make things interesting and provide us with a reference point for our feelings.  But we must have our alone time.  It takes us longer to process things because we think of everything from an emotional viewpoint.  We take even the simplest of decisions and begin weighing them by their consequences five years from now.  “Should I go out to eat with my friends tonight?  I just went out a couple nights ago and if I go out again, this may become a habit that eventually takes control of my life.  I’m really tired right now though.  Besides, my secret crush from two years ago said she might come and I don’t want to make things awkward again.  On the other hand, if I don’t go, my best friend may take it personally.  I don’t want him to feel like I don’t care about him and don’t want to accept his invitation.  Maybe he won’t include me next time because he thinks I don’t like eating with the group.”  And the conversation inside our head goes on and on and on.  When it comes to larger decisions in life, we often have to completely stop life and process it for awhile.

We don’t like being vulnerable which makes us afraid to love.  Regrets kill us.  We live and relive our past mistakes as if thinking about them will change what happened.  We want everything to be perfect and beautiful because that’s how we want to remember it.  We attempt to dive fearlessly into the future but somehow get tangled in past mistakes and end up belly flopping.  We’re really good about staying in control of situations, never letting our guard down until we’re sure we can trust those around us.  We have numerous acquaintances; everyone seems to know who we are.  When we first meet people, we are quick to engage them and figure out what they like and dislike.  Because we’re so in tune to emotions, it doesn’t take us long to strike up a lively conversation with just about anyone.  And we love it.  But we have few friends.  Few people are trusted with knowing our fears, our heartaches, our excitement, or our inner thoughts and feelings.  We’re afraid of getting hurt.  We like to keep people at a safe distance because we want to have fun and make beautiful memories without the fear of something going wrong.  We are envious of those who can fearlessly try new things without the fear of messing up.  That fear is one of our biggest crutches.

I’m not sure if you can relate to any of that.  Maybe none of this describes you, or perhaps you’ve resonated with everything.  Being a Nostalgic can sometimes be frustrating.  But the beautiful thing about life is that we honestly don’t have to stay the same.  I often take an introspective look at my life and work on mending the things which keep me from reaching the highest potential God has created me with.  I want to fully live, not being held back by anything.  Strive to thrive, as I like to say.  One of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns talks about fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense, deep water faith in the shallow end, and being caught in the middle.  We want to be bold.  We want to dare, to believe, to reach out and follow God no matter what.  So often though, we’re held back by our timidity, our “common sense”, our fear of failing.  As I wrap up my summer camp adventures, I’m ready for whatever’s next.  Because I know that as I keep following God’s plan for my life, fully embracing life as it comes, I’m going to make memories that will last a lifetime – and beyond.

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